Library Classification System

The Charlotte library uses the Dewey Decimal System.

Here is how the Dewey system works. Let’s take a look at a typical call number for a book: 241.53 B6416C

This is the call number for Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. The first part of the call number, 241.53, is the most important. Once you find this, the second line (B6416C) is easy to find. [By the way, the “B” stands for Bonhoeffer and the “C” for “The Cost of Discipleship.”] The first line may or may not have a decimal. All 241 call numbers without decimals come before all the 241 call numbers with decimals. Our example is a call number with a decimal, so how does the decimal work? Well, like decimals.

The 241 is a whole number, which is why 241 is preceded by all 240 call numbers and followed by all 242 call numbers. If you lost me there, you should abandon all hope of passing seminary! The decimals are slightly trickier because they work as fractions, not whole numbers. So, in our example, .53 is a fraction of a whole number (the number 1). Thus, .53 stands between 0 and 1. Because it is a fraction, 241.53 will come before 241.6. In other words, the “53” and the “6” are not whole numbers. They are a fraction of 1, and .6 is closer to 1 than .53. On a bookshelf, here is how the call numbers would be ordered:

240.83 — 241.244 — 241.36 — 241.56 — 241.6 — 241.923 — 242.001 and so on.