How do I find a library book? So I’ve started mentioning the Dewey Decimal system in the end of random posts and I’ve had some questions about what it is and how relevant it is. I thought I’d explain it a bit using some Personal Finance examples.
To start with, the Dewey Decimal system is one of the two major systems used in the States (and beyond…) to organize non-fiction books. The other is the Library of Congress system, which is found more in academic settings. I think it’ll be relevant as long as libraries are in use or until a better, similar system comes along.
Why? Because books have to be organized somehow. What if you want to find books on personal finance? Well, they could organize it by title, but then you’d only be able to find a particular book, not browse. Your PF book might be shelved in a row with one self-help book, one on world religions, on one algebra, one on politics, and the complete works of Aristophenes.
As it is now, you might look up a Suze Orman book and find that the call number is 332.024 O (PF). Then you notice Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover just a few books away as 332.024 R. You glance one shelf over and see a book on index funds in 332.6 (investing). And when you look down you find a 333 book on investing in real estate.
You decide that real estate is too much effort compared to index funds and move on. At least if you’re me.
Here’s a broad overview of the Dewey by hundreds, along with some examples:
000s — General, Reference
004-006 — computer stuff
031 — encyclopedias
100s — Philosophy, Psychology
158 — self help
200s — Religion (very unbalanced in favor of Christianity, which involves 220-280)
270s — Christian history
297 — Islam (all of it, in one number! lots of subdivisions, though)
300s — Social Science
300s — economics
332 — personal finance
395.22 — wedding ettiquette
400s — Language
419 — Sign language
500s — Natural Sciences and Mathematics
540s — chemistry
600s — Technology and Applied Sciences (health, home, family, etc)
615.8527 — depression (I’m not sure why it’s in here, but health counts)
629.287 — auto repair
641 — cookbooks
700s — The Arts
741 — cartoons
791 — film
800s — Literature
820s — British literature
900s — History and Geography/Travel
973 — US history
973.7 — Civil War
Ok, so that’s basically how it works. General ideas by 100s. Classes by 10s. Similar topics by 1s, really crazy breakdowns into .1111 and beyond!
Visit this page to see a greater breakdown of the hundreds and then scroll down for an alphabetized index of where to find certain things. You can search for “personal finance,” “investing,” and “depression” and find them all there.
I mentioned last night that even though I was pretty successful, the day had left me depressed. Today has been better on the whole. I still don’t feel great, but I don’t feel like crap. Point for our team!