How to Classify Poetry in the Dewey Decimal System

The Dewey Decimal System is an international coding system used by libraries to arrange the large number of library materials. The system classifies the materials into 10 major disciplines. Each major discipline is further divided into 100 subtopics. Materials are classified by a call number which is used to find a book or other material within the library. The call number consists of four components: the size designation, a Dewey number, cutter number and a work mark. Poetry is assigned to the topic literature. Materials classified as literature are in Dewey decimal class 800.

Review an expanded list of the Dewey classes for the 800 series. Identify which class applies to the book of poetry you are classifying. Use decimals to further distinguish the book. Is it a book of English poetry? Use Dewey number 821. Is the book French poetry? Use Dewey number 841. If the book is Classic Greek poetry, use Dewey number 881. Dewey classes also exist for German, Spanish and Latin and other poetry.

Determine the cutter number. The cutter number helps to further distinguish the book and usually begins with the first letter of the author's last name followed by a series of numbers. Use the cutter table or a software program available at your library to assign the cutter number to the book. Place the cutter number directly below the Dewey decimal number.

Append a work mark to the cutter number. If you are classifying the book within a large library and have several works by the author in the same class, add a work mark. The work mark usually begins with the first letter of the title of the book.

Include additional information for the book if applicable. A size designation of Q or F is included directly before the Dewey decimal number to indicate the book is over-sized. For books with multiple editions, the year of the edition goes below the work number. For volumes, include the number below the year as v.X, with X being the number in the volume. If there are additional copies, list this after the year as cop.X , with X being the copy number.

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