Dewey Decimal Day takes place annually on 10 December and commemorates the occasion that the Dewey Decimal System was created by American librarian and self-declared reformer Melvil Dewey. The Dewey Decimal Classification/Dewey Decimal System, is a proprietary library classification system first published in the United States by Melvil Dewey in 1876 it has been expanded to multiple volumes and revised through 23 major editions, the latest printed in 2011. It is also available in an abridged version suitable for smaller libraries. OCLC, a non-profit cooperative that serves libraries, currently maintains the system and licenses online access to WebDewey, a continuously updated version for catalogers.
The Decimal Classification enables new books to be added to a library in their appropriate location based on subject. Libraries previously had given books permanent shelf locations that were related to the order of acquisition rather than topic. The classification’s notation makes use of three-digit Arabic numerals for main classes, with fractional decimals allowing expansion for further detail. Using Arabic numerals for symbols, it is flexible to the degree that numbers can be expanded in linear fashion to cover special aspects of general subjects. A library assigns a classification number that unambiguously locates a particular volume in a position relative to other books in the library, on the basis of its subject. The number makes it possible to find any book and to return it to its proper place on the library shelves. The classification system is used in 200,000 libraries in at least 135 countries
Melvil Dewey was a founding member of the American Library Association and developed the ideas for his library classification system in 1873 while working at Amherst College library. He applied the classification to the books in that library, until in 1876 he had a first version of the classification. In 1876, he published the classification in pamphlet form with the title A Classification and Subject Index for Cataloguing and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library. He used the pamphlet, published in more than one version during the year, to solicit comments from other librarians. He Obtained copyright for the idea in 1876
A second edition of the Dewey Decimal system, was published in 1885 with the title Decimal Classification and Relativ Index for arranging, cataloging, and indexing public and private libraries and for pamflets, clippings, notes, scrap books, index rerums, etc. This comprised 314 pages, with 10,000 index entries. Five hundred copies were produced. Editions 3–14, were published between 1888 and 1942 and Dewey modified and expanded his system considerably for the second edition.
One of the innovations of the Dewey Decimal system was that of positioning books on the shelves in relation to other books on similar topics. When the system was first introduced, most libraries in the US used fixed positioning: each book was assigned a permanent shelf position based on the book’s height and date of acquisition. Library stacks were generally closed to all but the most privileged patrons, so shelf browsing was not commonplace. The use of the Dewey Decimal system increased during the early 20th century as librarians became convinced of the advantages of relative positioning and of open shelf access for patron. New editions were readied as supplies of previously published editions were exhausted, even though some editions provided little change from the previous, as they were primarily needed to fulfill demand the 3rd edition was published in 1888, the 4th in1891 and the 5th in1894. Editions 6 to 11 were published between 1899 and 1922. 7,600 copies of the 6th edition were published. Gradually the size of the volumes grew, and edition 12 swelled to 1243 pages. The first abridged edition of the Dewey Decimal system was produced in 1894, In response to the needs of smaller libraries which were finding the expanded classification schedules cumbersome. By popular request, the Library of Congress began to print Dewey Classification numbers on nearly all of its cards in 1930, making the system immediately available to all libraries making use of the Library of Congress card sets. Dewey’s was not the only library classification available, although it was the most complete. Charles Ammi Cutter published the Expansive Classification in 1882, with initial encouragement from Melvil Dewey. Although Cutter’s system was not adopted by many libraries it became the basis for the Library of Congress Classification system.
In 1895, the International Institute of Bibliography, located in Belgium and led by Paul Otlet, contacted Dewey about the possibility of translating the classification into French, and using the classification system for bibliographies (as opposed to its use for books in libraries). This would have required some changes to the classification, which was under copyright. Dewey gave permission for the creation of a version intended for bibliographies, and also for its translation into French. Dewey did not agree, however, to allow the International Institute of Bibliography to later create an English version of the resulting classification, considering that a violation of their agreement, as well as a violation of Dewey’s copyright. Shortly after Dewey’s death in 1931, however, an agreement was reached between the committee overseeing the development of the Decimal Classification and the developers of the French Classification Decimal. The English version was published as the Universal Decimal Classification and is still in use today.
Following the death of Melvil Dewey in 1931, administration of the classification was under the Decimal Classification Committee of the Lake Placid Club Education Foundation, and the editorial body was the Decimal Classification Editorial Policy Committee with participation of the American Library Association (ALA), Library of Congress, and Forest Press. By the 14th edition in 1942, the Dewey Decimal Classification index was over 1,900 pages in length and was published in two volumes.
The growth of the classification to date had led to significant criticism from medium and large libraries which were too large to use the abridged edition but found the full classification overwhelming. Dewey had intended issuing the classification in three editions: the library edition, which would be the fullest edition; the bibliographic edition, in English and French, which was to be used for the organization of bibliographies rather than of books on the shelf; and the abridged edition. In 1933, the bibliographic edition became the Universal Decimal Classification, which left the library and abridged versions as the formal Dewey Decimal Classification editions. The 15th edition, edited by Milton Ferguson, implemented the growing concept of the “standard edition”, designed for the majority of general libraries. This radical revision reduced the size of the Dewey system by over half, from 1,900 to 700 pages. The 16th and 17th editions, under the editorship of the Library of Congress, grew again to two volumes. However, by now, the Dewey Decimal system had established itself as a classification for general libraries, with the Library of Congress Classification having gained acceptance for large research libraries. The first electronic version of “Dewey” was created in 1993. Hard-copy editions continue to be issued at intervals; the online WebDewey and Abridged WebDewey are updated quarterly.
More Events and holidays occurring on 10 December
Human Rights Day
Festival for the Souls of Dead Whales Day
National Lager Day
Nobel Prize Day