Dewey Decimal Day

Happy Dewey Decimal Day! Each year on December 10th we honor the birthday of Melvil Dewey (1851-1931), a respected librarian, educator, and the inventor of the Dewey Decimal System. Dewey first published his groundbreaking library classification system in 1876 as a four page pamphlet. Through the years the Dewey Decimal System (or Dewey Decimal Classification as it is officially named) has been expanded and revised through 23 editions, the most recent iteration, a four volume set, was published in 2011.

The Dewey Decimal System is the most widely utilized library classification system in the world. Over 200,000 libraries in at least 135 countries use it to organize their collections and it has been translated into more than 30 languages. The system is maintained by the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). Learn more about the Dewey Decimal System including licensing options and monthly updates by visiting the OCLS’s Dewey website.

The Dewey Decimal System assigns a three digit number based on the subject of a non-fiction book, with decimal numbers providing further detail. This allows libraries to organize books in a meaningful way so patrons can locate the books they need and easily return them to their proper location. Before the invention of the Dewey Decimal System, libraries often organized their collections by acquisition date, not by subject. Imagine how difficult it would have been to locate the right books that way! To celebrate Dewey Decimal Day visit your local library and look for some books, start the Dewey Decimal Challenge or even stay in a hotel inspired by the Dewey Decimal System!

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