General Knowledge and Computer Science Books: Home Library Arrangement

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April 2, 2021

If you have a lot of books, it can be frustrating trying to track down a specific title.

In my last post, I outlined the basics of using the Dewey Decimal Classification system for organizing your nonfiction books.

Libraries that use Dewey begin with section 000-099 which is where the general knowledge and computer science books are shelved. This post will give you more instructions on how to subdivide these books.

The subdivisions

Below is a brief discussion of each subcategory of general knowledge and computer science books. Each of these can be further subdivided into ten subcategories. But for most home libraries, just grouping the books under the divisions I provide here is plenty specific.

000-009     Computer science, knowledge, systems

The computer science books contain books on hardware, data processing, software, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, computer graphics, and multimedia systems. That’s not all that goes here, but you get the idea.

The knowledge books are books about interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge. These are the books that talk about intellectual life, scholarship, and learning as subjects of their own. Oddly enough, it’s also where books about controversial knowledge like UFOs, monsters, and mysterious places belong.

Finally, books on systems cover forecasting, different kinds of systems, systems theory, analysis, design, optimization, and models.

Recommended books in generalities and computer science:

  • The Thinking Person’s UFO Book by Gordon Chism
  • Extraordinary Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles Mackay
  • The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan
  • Visualization Made Simple: Insights Into Becoming Visual by Kristen Sosulski
  • Geek Sublime: The Beauty of Code, the Code of Beauty by Vikram Chandra
  •  Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil


010-019     Bibliographies

Bibliographies are books that contain lists of books or works. If you were born before 1990, you have probably used them to find sources for papers in school.

Not every bibliography a library has will be shelved here. That’s because if a bibliography is subject-specific (say all of the books on it relate to Edgar Alan Poe, for example), it would belong in the 800s with the Literature books. Likewise, if another book had short biographies of scientists with bibliographies of their works, it would likely be shelved in the 500s with the science books.

So which books do go here? Books about how to make bibliographies, bibliographies that cover more than one specific topic, and bibliographies about people that are not clearly associated with a specific subject belong here.

Recommended books in bibliographies:

  • Mixed Heritage: Your Source for Books for Children and Teens about Persons and Families of Mixed Racial, Ethnic, and/or Religious Heritage by Catherine Balckenmore
  • A Bibliography of American County Histories by P. William Filby
  • Index to Children’s Songs: A Title, First Line, and Subject Index compiled by Carolyn S. Peterson and Ann D. Fenton

020-029     Library and information science

This is pretty self-explanatory. If it has to do with running a library in terms of human resources, serving patrons, collecting items, or putting on programs, it belongs here. But books about the study of information itself like metadata on books would belong in this section too.

Recommended books in library and information science:

  • The InformationA History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick
  • Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper by Nicholson Baker
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  • 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List by James Mustich
  • The World is Just a Book Away edited by James J. Owens

030-039     Encyclopedias and books of facts

Encyclopedias of general information go in the 030s. This is not the place for encyclopedias on specific subjects, like inventions. They would go in the 600s, the Applied Sciences. Here we put print copies of The World Book Encyclopedia or The Encyclopedia Britannica. The last print edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica was­­­ published in 2010.  General encyclopedias written in any language in the world are shelved in this section.

Recommended books in general encyclopedic works:

  • Famous First Facts: A Record of First Happenings, Discoveries, and Inventions in the United States by Joseph Nathan Kane
  • Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things by Charles Panati

040-049     Unassigned

Occasionally numbers in the DDC are left open for subjects that fit in the general category but may not be specifically provided for elsewhere. When new technology or historical changes make new sections necessary, they can also be reassigned to new topics. In the original 1876 edition of the Dewey Decimal Classification, 040-049 was where polygraphy books were shelved.

050-059     Magazines, journals, and serials

This section is for books about periodicals, like About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made by Ben Yagoda. Copies of the serials themselves are shelved separately in most public libraries.

Indexes of magazines and journals, like the H. W. Wilson Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature may have been shelved here in some libraries. Before digital databases, these were the only way to locate articles in serials.  It’s doubtful you have these in your home collection but be aware that your local library can help you track down magazine and journal articles if you need them to.

General almanacs like The World Almanac and Book of Facts that you may remember from school are shelved here because they are published on a regular schedule.

060-069     Associations, organizations, and museums

Books about associations and organizations whose activity is not restricted to specific fields are shelved here, but works on a psychological society would be shelved in the 100s with the philosophy and psychology books.

All works on museum services, management, and exhibits belong in this section as well. Once again, works on a specific type of museum would likely be housed under the subject area. So information on the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City would likely be in the 700s, the Arts.

Recommended books in general organizations and museology:

  • Professional Ethics and Insignia by Jane Clapp
  • Lost in the Museum: Buried Treasures and the Stories They Tell by Nancy Moses
  • Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology by Lawrence Weschler

070-079     News media, journalism, and publishing

Print media, motion pictures, broadcast media go here. Books on all aspects of journalism and the publishing industry do too.

Recommended books in news media, journalism, and publishing:

  • Max Perkins: Editor of Genius  by A. Scott Berg
  • The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century  by Alan Brinkley
  • The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide: Every Indie Author’s Essential Directory to Help Your Prepare, Publish, and Promote Professional Looking Books  by Joel Friedlander and Betty Kelly Sargent
  • Audition: A Memoir by Barbara Walters
  • The Trust: The Private and Powerful Family Behind the New York Times by Susan E. Tifft
  • Hack Attack: The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch by Nick Davies

080-089     General collections

Included here are abstracts, addresses, lectures, essays, interviews, graffiti, and quotations books from the entire globe.

Recommended books in general collections:

  • Great Treasury of Western Thought: Statements on Man and His Institutions by the Great Thinkers of Western History edited by Mortimer Adler and Charles Lincoln Van Doren
  • Ideas and Opinions  by Albert Einstein
  • Quotations in Black edited by Anita King
  • Allusions–Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary edited by Laurence Urdang and Frederick G. Ruffner Jr.
  • International Thesaurus of Quotations edited by Rhoda T. Tripp

090-099     Manuscripts and rare books

Illustrated manuscripts, block books, incunabula (books printed before 1501), early printed books, books known for their illustrations, or what they’re made of are all shelved here, as are forgeries and hoaxes.

Sit back and admire your organized shelves

Once you have further subdivided your general knowledge and computer science books, be sure to update any spreadsheets or card catalogs you may have made for them. I cover that here. Part of the joy of having a system is that you will never need to worry about misplacing a beloved book again.

Now pour yourself a favorite beverage and enjoy your organized book collection.

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