Just what do all those numbers on the spines of library books actually mean?
Are they just randomly assigned?
Is it a running number or do they indicate when the library purchased that item? Why are there letters at the end of the number? What does that mean?
How come some books only have letters and no number?
Well be confused no longer!!!
Over the series of Call Number Confusion posts, I will attempt to unravel the mystery that is the library collection and call numbers.
Where do the numbers come from?
Call numbers are not randomly assigned. They are created using something called the Dewey Decimal Classification System.
Developed by Melvil Dewey in 1876, the Dewey System organized all of the world’s knowledge into Ten basic classes, called Hundreds. Each of these Hundreds are then broken into ten more areas, the Tens, and those are broken down into ten more areas, the Units, then down to the decimal places.
What this means is that every part of the call number actually means something!The numbers that make up a book’s Call Number actually tell us something about the content of that book and ensures that similar material is shelved around it.
For example, the 900s deal with Geography and History and 94 is the number for Australia, therefore 994 would be the location for Australian History!
- Australian history books – 994.4
But what about those letters?
They are taken from the Author’s surname or the titles and are used as a way to distinguish one book from another that shares the same Dewey Number. After all, there are going to be a lot of books on gardening or computing.
The next post in this series will begin our in-depth look at the call numbers used here at the Tea Tree Gully Library, starting a the beginning of the collection: 001-099!
… the Library welcomed 399,176 people through the door …
… including 5,154 new borrowers.
We checked out 1,168,694 items …
… and checked-in (and reshelved) 1,171,228 items.
Patrons placed 108,702 reservations/holds.
Our cataloguers added 27,892 new items to the collection …
… and we deleted 26,118 old, warn out and damaged ones.
We ordered approx 2,500 InterLibrary Loans from other libraries …
… and 23,835 people attended Library Programs.
Yep, that felt like a really busy year … take a deep breath though, because its all about to start once again.
I was watching an episode of Doctor Who last weekend, ‘Tooth and Claw’ from Season 2, starring David Tennant.
The story involved the Doctor and Rose trying to defeat a werewolf and protect Queen Victoria. At one point in the chase they are hiding in the Library of Torchwood Estate, and the werewolf is unable to enter, as the walls of the library have been protected.
The captives look around the library for a weapon to fight the wolf but despair of finding something to save themselves. Then the Doctor declares, “We are in a library, what other weapon do you need?” and they begin to search through the books for clues to the wolf’s origins and vulnerabilities.
“Hurrah!” said I, there on the couch. What other weapon do you need, indeed! Knowledge is Power!
Continuing to answer the library trivia questions, I was also asked what is the most famous book or author in history.
Defining the most famous book in history has got to be an impossible task, as it is totally subjective. Is the most famous book the biggest bestseller? The one that most people have read? The one that had the most impact on society?
I can hardly discuss them all in a blog post but if we narrow it down to the most widely published and highest selling book ever, the Bible takes first place. Over 4 billion copies have been printed since the invention of the printing press (and incidentally it was the first book printed on a press) in more than a thousand different languages.
If this is the case would the authors of the Bible be the most famous? Actually no, the most widely read author in history is of course William Shakespeare, but if we’re talking within the last fifteen years, J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame takes the prize.
However, I’m sure if we were to say within the last year, Stephenie Meyer would have to be at the top!
My recent posts regarding the oldest and largest libraries resulted in some questions from blog readers so I thought I’d try to answer a few of them. Lisa asked “who was the first librarian in recorded history?” The earliest recorded names of librarians come from the superintendents of the Library of Alexandria, the largest and most famous library of the Egyptian era, the first of which was Zenodotus of Ephesus. Zenodotus served from 284BC until 260BC and was also an avid and skilled writer. He is credited with the first critical volumes of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, editing Homer’s works from various manuscripts. He was replaced as super of the Library of Alexandria in 260BC by Callimachus of Cyrene.