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Call me a nerd, but I’ve always liked science. I was always super-excited to get my hands on a new science textbook for school (especially if it had a section on astronomy) and I was even part of the Physics Club in college (despite never having taken a single Physics class–too much math!) Whether you’re an armchair scientist or you need to practice your math facts, the 500s has you covered!

500 (Natural Sciences and Mathematics)

If you want to get a quick (or perhaps a more detailed) introduction to science, but don’t know where to start, try 500. This class has introductions and overviews of the topic and should give you a great place to start in your search. You’ll find scientific dictionaries, serials, education and research, natural history, and the seasons!

510 (Mathematics)

All branches of mathematics are covered here, including algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics.

520 (Astronomy)

I’ve always loved learning about the planets! In 520, readers can learn about celestial mechanics (such as gravity), observatories, the various aspects of our universe (solar systems, quasars, galaxies, dark matter, moons, and planets, stars, comets, the Oort Cloud, etc.). And since time is technically dictated by the movement of the Earth on its axis and also around the sun, chronology is included in class 529. This covers topics like intervals of time (days, years, etc.) and calendars.

530 (Physics)

Whether you’re learning about states of matter, mechanics, light, heat, electricity, or magnetism, 530 has you covered. Physics is literally a study of matter and how it moves through time and space. Really cool stuff!

540 (Chemistry)

This was my worst subject in high school! So, perhaps its time I came back for a refresher? Chemistry is a study of chemical reactions and among the many interesting facets found here, perhaps the most iconic is the Periodic Table!

550 (Earth Science)

I loved studying Earth Science! Learning about rocks and minerals, volcanoes, and weather was always a ton of fun. This section of the collection covers Geology (plate tectonics, the earth’s crust, volcanoes, earthquakes, etc.), Meteorology (clouds, weather, climate, forecasting); water, metal, minerals, and gems.

560 (Paleontology)

If you’re interested in prehistoric animals, such as dinosaurs, look no further. Every kind of fossilized life form, from plants to animals is covered here.

570 (Biology)

This is the study of living things. Living creatures (plants, animals, bacteria, fungi) and their functions (biochemistry) are included here. You can also learn about genetics, evolution, and ecology. However, if you’re looking for books about specific plants or animals, you’ll have to look further into the 500s to find them. However, if you’re looking for information on microorganisms, fungi (like mold or mushrooms), bacteria, viruses, and algae, you’ll find it here. You can even find books on taxidermy (579.4).

580 (Plants)

The heading is pretty self-explanatory. But I’ll add this note. This section is about plants themselves, not about their uses in other projects. For example, gardening is in 635 (Domestic Gardening); flower arranging would be classed in (Decorative Arts), and vegetarian cooking would be under 641 (Food and Drink).

590 (Animals)

Every type of animal, from millipedes to water birds can be found here. And even people are included (physical anthropology is classed in 599.9). However, you’ll find some of your furry friends are not included. Animals like cats and dogs are actually classed in 636, because they’re domestic animals (and that classification covers animal husbandry). Again, as I’ve mentioned before, Dewey often spreads topics across the collection!


I'm the Reader's Advisory Librarian at WPPL. My interests include old horror films, classic novels, manga and anime, paper-crafting, and plants. If you like my suggestions, you can request personalized recommendations from me on My Librarian page.