100 Health

200 Education / Employment

300 Law / Religion

400 Tradition/ History
           / Technology

500 Language

600 Nature / Environment

700 Arts / Literature

800 Recreation / Sports

900 Biographies/ Genealogies

Geography/ Locations

Subject Orientation

American librarian Melvil Dewey invented the Dewey Decimal System of Classification which is used in most local and school libraries to catalogue books.


The system is based on ten classes of subject (000-999), which are then further subdivided. Dewey also promoted the use of the metric system, helped found the American Library Association in 1876, and edited Library Journal (1876-81) and Library Notes (1886-98). When Dewey created Columbia University's School of Library Economy in 1887 he began the field of library science in the United States.


Dewey Decimal Classification


The Dewey Decimal system coordinates materials on the same subject and on related subjects to make items easier to find on the shelves by using a combination of letters and numbers.


The Dewey system has ten main classes.

  1.   000 Generalities 
  2.   100 Philosophy and Psychology
  3.   200 Religion
  4.   300 Social Science
  5.   400 Language
  6.   500 Natural Science and Mathematics
  7.   600 Technology (Applied Sciences)
  8.   700 Arts
  9.   800 Literature
  10. 900 Geography and History


Each of the above classes each has ten divisions. These divisions are further divided--and then further divided. Each division becomes more specific. The more numbers, the more specific the subject.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Dewey Decimal

The Dewey Decimal system is brilliant, but is a slight problem when dealing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander publications. 

This is due to the history of this system with the history of rights for these people  Librarians of old would place all material under what they deemed the classification of material. This has caused major problems for the Indigenous races of Australia, as we search differently for information then Europeans.  We search by Aboriginal clan names and locations.  AIATSIS has registered this and most State and Territorial libraries have started to add the longitude and latitude to their catalogs.

It is important to understand that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have had a short time of accessing material in libraries, under thirty years and our researching skills are minimum. 




Australia Aborigines have been trying to get their head around this system...  It is inappropriate for us to have multitude of points to view material of a Indigenous nature.  The  "Indigenous Australian Studies Guide" to the Edith Gowan Library shows our dilemma


Librarians need to re-visit material to find the relevant information for Indigenous Australia.  This tasks time, but would take less time if started instead of ignored.

On the right is the listing of Indigenous Australian topics.  To make the material more user-freindlly all should be added into the 991.

Dewey Decimal Solution

990 General history of other areas
     991 Indigenous history
Indigenous history would be placed in accordance to arrival of the Indigenous person to the land. This would also sort out the confusion of classifying Aborigines with Torres Strait Islanders

000 Generalities / Organisations/ Collections
100 Health
200 Education / Employment
300 Law / Religion
400 Tradition/ History / Technology
500 Language
600 Nature / Environment
700 Arts / Literature
800 Recreation Sports
900 Biographies/ Genealogies

This just an idea, more qualified people with knowledge of the Dewey Decimal could provided better insight..

All books would be re-visited and placed on open access in the library reading room of all countries.

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