4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

Librarian Melvil Dewey Invents Dewey Decimal Classification (1876 – 1885)


In 1876 librarian of Amherst College Melvil Dewey published anonymously from Amherst, Massachusetts Classification and Subject Index for Cataloguing and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library. The work was issued as a 42-page pamphlet. On the top of the upper printed wrapper and on the top of the title page there was an unusual statement in small type:

"PROOF.—Please examine this as soon as practicable, mark any corrections or suggestions, and return to the Librarian, Amherst College. The matter is held in type for a few days, to allow any desirable change before the edition is printed. It is earnestly requested that you criticize freely and fully. Please note specially mistakes which have crept into the Index in the hurried proof-reading. Aslo suggest headings for the places left blank, and any alteration to names or arrangement. May we hear from you within a week?" 

This became known as the Dewey Decimal Classification. In 1885 Dewey published the second edition of his classification system, identifying himself as author for the first time. The Dewey Decimal Classification became the world's most widely used library classification system.