Quiz: How Well Do You Know the Dewey Decimal System?

Abby Hargreaves

Staff Writer

Abby Hargreaves is a New Hampshire native living and working as a Children’s Librarian in Washington, D.C. She fulfills the gamut of the librarian stereotype with a love of cats, coffee, and crocheting (and likes a good run of alliteration). Her MLIS degree enjoys the company of a BA in English from Hollins University, making Abby an advocate of women's universities. Her favorite color is yellow.

If you went to grade school in the United States, you might have spent some time in the school library learning about how it works and enjoying the company of hundreds or thousands of books. My own elementary school had our library elective and the library itself in a portable building, and I still recall the school librarians teaching us the Dewey Decimal System by way of “Ode to Joy,” putting the names of each classification to the melody in order. My classmates and I sang the words, filling the tiny trailer to the brim with our droning voices as we dove into Dewey’s famed organization system. Later, we would take quizzes on paper, some of us humming the tune to ourselves to be sure we marked the correct sets of numbers to each printed category. Today, I work in a public library and can usually direct folks easily to the general area they’ll need for their topic of interest without consulting Beethoven.

“Travel?” the customers ask me.

“900s,” I tell them.

They follow the direction of my pointing finger and head off to the corner where we keep our travel books.

And within such a fleeting moment, our interaction is through.

Of course, it’s worth noting that while the Dewey Decimal System has contributed a significant amount to libraries, it’s far from perfect and so was its creator.

Now, it’s your turn. Do you know your way around the Dewey Decimal System? Show us your chops in this quiz and then be sure to brag about your accomplishment to all your bookish friends!

How Well Do You Know the Dewey Decimal System?

How did you do? Give us a shout on Twitter to let us know and challenge your friends to take the quiz.

Find out more about the Dewey Decimal System and its many curiosities here and pick out some DDS-inspired jewelry to celebrate libraries.