Tuesday is our usual Homeschool Books & Libraries Day in the River Houses, and on the first Tuesday of each month we invite you and your young scholars to explore one of the major Dewey Decimal classes at your local library. If you start at the beginning of the River Houses year in September and run until July, you can adopt one major class each month and survey the whole of knowledge (!) in a year.
The class for October is the 000s — “the zero-hundreds” — which covers General Works. The Dewey system is grouped into hundreds, so “the 000s” means the numbers running from 000 to 099. Interestingly, because the Dewey system was developed long before computers were invented, the major subject of computer science originally had no Dewey home, so it was eventually put into the 000s also, along with other works of general scope. An argument could be made that computer science should have been put into either the 500s (Science) or the 600s (Technology), but the 000s is where it landed.
Here’s what you’ll find at your local library in the General 000s:
- CLASS 000 – COMPUTER SCIENCE, INFORMATION, & GENERAL WORKS
- 000 – Computer Science, Knowledge, & Systems (General)
- 010 – Bibliography
- 020 – Library & Information Sciences
- 030 – Encyclopedias & Books of Facts
- 040 – Unassigned (formerly Biographies)
- 050 – Magazines, Journals, & Serials
- 060 – Associations, Organizations, & Museums
- 070 – News Media, Journalism, & Publishing
- 080 – Quotations & General Collections (Interviews, Lectures, etc.)
- 090 – Manuscripts & Rare Books
Each of these “tens” divisions is subdivided further of course. For example, in the 090s (Manuscripts & Rare Books) you’ll find works on Incunabula (093), Books Notable for Bindings (095), Books Notable for Illustrations (096), Prohibited Works, Forgeries, & Hoaxes (098), and so on.
When I was a kid myself I would have zoomed right in on the 030s — Books of Facts! As an adult I’m more likely to head for the 080s (“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library“) and the 090s (Aristotle’s Treatise on Comedy). You and your students can explore and find favorite numbers of your very own. 😊
When you’re learning the library with your students, be sure they understand that any library collection that uses the Dewey Decimal Classification will be arranged in the same way: the numbers run from 000 to 999 in every Dewey-based library, so if you’re interested in, say, Astronomy, you’ll find it in the 520s in both the small-town library near you and in the big-city library across the country. If you have an opportunity to take field trips to multiple libraries over the course of the year you’ll be able to demonstrate that in practice and get your students accustomed to orienting themselves by reading the numbers aloud as you walk together down the ranges: “500 … 510 … 515 … here it is, 520.”
Mastering these library basics will help your students become independent life-long learners and will ensure that they’ll feel right at home in any library they visit.
What delightful decimals and textual treasures will you be searching for in your library this Cygnus Term? 📚
❡ Make it a tradition: Why not spend a few minutes during your first library visit each month and devise a little Dewey tradition of your own. Read the title page of one book in the 000s, one in the 010s, one in the 020s, one in the 030s, and so on. Find the very first book in the class (the lowest 000) and the very last book in the class (the highest 099). Find the thinnest book and the thickest book in each class. Make a list of your three favorite numbers in each class. If you follow a simple pattern like this month-by-month, over the course of the year you’ll be surprised how much information your students will absorb and how many academic skills they will develop without even realizing it. 🔍
❡ Dukedoms large enough: Have you found all the local libraries in your area? There may be more than you realize, and there’s no better homeschool field trip than a field trip to a new library! The WorldCat Library Finder will help you find all the library collections near you — public and private, large and small — and the WorldCat catalog itself will help you locate the closest copy of almost any book in the world. 🏛
❡ Dewey Detectives at home: Did you know there are secret Dewey Decimal numbers hiding in the books on your very own shelves? It’s true! Here are some tips on how you can send your students on a treasure hunt to find them. 🕵️♀️
❡ When in doubt, go to the library: This is one of our regular Homeschool Books & Libraries posts. Add your name to our weekly mailing list and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🗞
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