Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Dewey Decimal Classification

We shelve our non-fiction books according to the Dewey Decimal Classification system. The number on the spine of a book is its 'Dewey' number. We add the first three letters of the author's surname or book's title (if there is no author) to help distinguish between items with the same number.

There are Dewey numbers for everything from dinosaurs (567.91) to dessert recipes (641.86), from World War II (940.54) to wedding etiquette (395.22). The numbers are the same in the adult, young adult and children's collections - for example, you will find fairytales at 398 in each of these areas.

Dewey number

Subject examples*

000-099 GeneralitiesComputing (004-006), general encyclopedias (030) and journalism (070)
100-199 Philosophy & psychologyParanormal phenomena (130), psychology and self-help (150)
200-299 ReligionThe Bible (220), Greek & Roman mythology (292) and Buddhism (294.3)
300-399 Social SciencesRelationships and family (306.7-8), politics (320), economics (330), law (340) and education (370)
400-499 LanguageEnglish dictionaries (423), ESOL (420.7 & 428.24), Asian languages (495) and Maori (499)
500-599 ScienceMaths (510), astronomy (520), physics (530), chemistry (540), earth sciences (550), botany (580) and zoology (590)
600-699 Technology & applied sciencesHealth & medicine (610), gardening (635), pets (636), cooking (641.5) and business (650)
700-799 ArtsArchitecture (720), painting (750), photography (770), music (780) and sport (796)
800-899 LiteratureNZ & British poetry (821), drama (822), Shakespeare (822.33) and books about novelists (823)
900-999 Geography & historyTravel guides (914-919), genealogy (929), European history (940) and New Zealand history (993.1)

* There are many other subjects under these numbers, this is just a general guide.

Dewey at Branch Libraries

Most branch libraries have one Dewey sequence with large and normal sized books shelved together. Miramar and Newtown have separate sections for large books. There are children's non-fiction sections at all branches, great for homework and fun reading. You can explore the different subjects via our special Kid's Catalogue.

More about Dewey

You can browse Whekenui (our catalogue) by Dewey number. If you have found a useful book and want to know what else we hold on that subject, type in the Dewey number and select 'Call Number browse' from the drop-down menu. You can also use the quick-search term "//c". For example, type "//c636.8" to search for cat books, or "//c629.2275" for motorcycles.

Use of Dewey numbers varies between libraries. We try to avoid confusing long numbers, particularly in the children's section. We also deviate from Dewey in the music section for improved access to sheet music. Dewey Decimal Classification has changed over the years and many NZ libraries, including WCL, use an older number for NZ history (993.1) so that we don't have to re-catalogue and re-label thousands of books!

You may also be familiar with the Library of Congress classification system (LC), where 'call numbers' contain both letters and numbers. For example, James Belich's Making Peoples is shelved at 993.1 BEL at WCL and at DU420 B431 M at Victoria University. Witi Ihimaera's Whale Rider has the call number PR9699 I25 W5 at Victoria, whereas WCL and other public libraries shelve fiction alphabetically under author surname. LC is primarily used by academic libraries because it provides access to highly specialised topics.

Popular Topics I Library Catalogues