What Was Used Before the Dewey Decimal System?

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what was used before the dewey decimal systemHave you ever wondered what was used before the Dewey Decimal system? I mean, there had to be something to organize the books at the library. Well, there was, but it wasn’t exactly organized.

The Dewey Decimal system is the most widely used system to organize books in a library. It allows for new books to be placed and located in a library in its correct and appropriate location based on its subject. For many it can be confusing, but with only a little training most people can pick up how it works. The librarian organizes its location, and it is then stored in a file that anyone can look up in alphabetical order. It really is the best, and most practical way to organize physical library books. But it hasn’t always been around.

So now the question, what was used before the Dewey Decimal system?

Clearly libraries have been around for generations, but the Dewey Decimal system was only adopted in 1885, so there must have been a method in which books were sorted and shelved before that. There indeed was a way, and it wasn’t all that complicated. In fact, you may store your own books in a similar fashion.

Prior to the adoption of the Dewey Decimal system books were given a permanent shelf location, with books stored in the order of acquisition, not by subject, or even alphabetical order. This would be helpful if you wanted to find your favorite book, or you were the librarian, but not much good for anyone or anything else. Quite frankly, it would have been frustrating trying to find a book, even when the number of books were considerably less than today. So clearly a better method was needed, and the Dewey Decimal system was born. It revolutionized the library for ever, and is still in use 130 years later.



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