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We’ve reached the end of the Dewey Decimal system, but not the end of our Dewey journey. Today, let’s talk about the 900s, that extremely popular section of the catalog–aaaaall the way in the back of the library. Whether you want to learn about WWII, your family history, or even create your travel plans, this is the section to do it!

900 (History)

The base classification of 900 will be your general history books. Here are titles on general world history (without focusing too much on any one geographic location). If you want a book about the rise of civilization, for example, you’ll probably find it here.

910 (Geography and Travel)

In addition to atlases of all kinds, you’ll find all your favorite travel books here, including Moon, Rick Steves, Fodor, and Lonely Planet. Whether you’re planning a road trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or are heading to Europe for a week-long tour across the continent, you’ll want to make a quick stop at the 910s first.

920 (Biography, Genealogy, and Insignia)

I’ve always been partial to the 920s. These books are all about people. If you want to learn about a famous historical person, family, or group, you’ll have a great time in this section. Many libraries have a Biography section for titles like this, but if we’re going strictly by Dewey, you can find all of those titles in 920. The class is broken down by profession, with political figures, for example, being shelved in 923.2 and scientists in 925. 929 to people like you, that is to say, most people. This is the genealogy section, where you can come to learn all about your family history. And if you’re the kind of person who really enjoys baby name books, you’ll find them here: 929.44.

930 (The Ancient World)

Ancient history is a fascinating topic and you can find it all in the 930s. This section breaks down the classifications by location, from Ancient China (931) to Ancient Greece (938). As always, the last part of this class, 939, is dedicated to less prominent areas of ancient history, such as Syria (939.4) and “Minor African Countries” (939.7).

940 (Europe)

The next few sections are going to be pretty self-explanatory. Each focuses on the history of a particular place, so there’s really not much to say about them. 940, for example, covers the history of Europe, including the British Isles, Italy, Spain, Germany, Russia, and Scandinavia.

950 (Asia)

Likewise, 950 covers the history of Asia, including China, Japan, India, Iran, and Siberia. The grouping always is interesting to me. For example, Korea (951.9) is classed under China (951). Iran has 955 all to itself, but Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka all have to share 954.9. I’m not super up to date on my geographic history, so perhaps if I was, these classifications would make more sense. Let’s use this as an excuse to read heavily from the 950s this year!

960 (Africa)

As above, 960 covers all of African history, from Egypt and Sudan (962) to South Africa and Southern Africa (968). 969 covers neighboring island nations in the Indian Ocean, from Madagascar (969.1) to Seychelles (969.6).

970 (North America)

North American history covers the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America, although starting with 973, the rest of the classification is almost exclusively dedicated to the USA, with subcategories for Northeastern (974), Southeastern (975), South Central (976), Midwestern (977), Western (978), and West Coast (979) United States. Books on the Caribbean, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, etc. are shelved in 972, with Mexico and Central America, while Native American history is in 970 proper.

980 (South America)

This classification includes the history of South American countries, including Brazil (981), Argentina (982), Peru (985), and Paraguay (989). As before, Central American countries like Mexico are included in the previous classification (970).

990 (Oceania and Elsewhere)

As I’ve said many times before, these little “catch all” sections at the end of each classification are always the most interesting to me. There are so many topics that that are overflowing with books, but I love to find these dark, quiet corners that have (I like to imagine) tons of titles that no one has heard of before. Here, we have titles on Australia, New Zealand, the Polar Regions, and Extraterrestrial Regions. Don’t confuse this with books on space (that’s in 520). This will be for books on space history once we’ve moved into extraterrestrial worlds. So, Martian history, or the history of the moon colonies, etc. Think of all the cool events that happen in your favorite science fiction titles. If and when we get to that point, those books will be shelved here.


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.