Teaching your students to use the library independently is one of the best educational gifts you can give them. Most public libraries in the United States arrange their books according to the Dewey Decimal Classification, so teaching the basics of the “DDC” is one of the first things you’ll want to do.
If you start in September at the beginning of the traditional school year and run until June, you can “adopt” one of the major DDC classes each month and cover the whole of knowledge (!) in a year. Begin the month by just browsing through that class with your students. You don’t have to have a specific purpose in mind: just explore and enlarge your reading horizons and discover topics you might never have looked into before.
- Class 000 – Computer science, information & general works
- Class 100 – Philosophy & psychology
- Class 200 – Religion
- Class 300 – Social sciences
- Class 400 – Language
- Class 500 – Science
- Class 600 – Technology
- Class 700 – Arts & recreation
- Class 800 – Literature
- Class 900 – History & geography
If you started in September, then the class for this month (May) is the 800s: books about literature. Have your students find the 800s in your local library, and then see how the books are grouped within that class — and pick one or two titles that might make for interesting reading:
- 800 – Literature, rhetoric & criticism
- 810 – American literature in English
- 820 – English & Old English literatures
- 830 – German & related literatures
- 840 – French & related literatures
- 850 – Italian, Romanian, & related literatures
- 860 – Spanish, Portuguese, Galician literatures
- 870 – Latin & Italic literatures
- 880 – Classical & modern Greek literatures
- 890 – Other literatures
Be sure your students understand that any library that uses the Dewey Decimal Classification will be arranged the same way: if you’re interested in, say, French literature, it will be in the 840s in a small-town library near you and in a big-city library across the country.
Learning these library basics will help your students become life-long learners and will ensure that they’ll feel right at home in any library they visit.
What educational discoveries have you made at your library lately? 😊
❡ Explore more: Have you found all the local libraries in your area? The WorldCat Library Finder (worldcat.org/libraries) will help you find all the libraries in your local area — there may be more than you realize — and the WorldCat catalog itself (worldcat.org) will help you locate the nearest copy of almost any book in the world. 😊