You may find it confusing, awkward, or just plain curious, but the Dewey Decimal Classification system is the way most public libraries arrange the books on their shelves. Developed by a young Melvil Dewey in 1873, the system revolutionized the way library books were shelved.
Previously, books might be shelved in the order it which they were received. Or, they might be shelved together regardless of the topic just because they “looked nice” together on the shelves. With his radical ten-category classification system for ALL of human knowledge as of 1873 (you can see the potential for problems already!), Dewey brought order to the chaos.
Dewey’s ten major categories are:
000: General Works (Miscellaneous)
300: Social Sciences
500: Pure Sciences
600: Technology (Practical Arts) including medicine, engineering, business accounting, agriculture, salesmanship, etc.
700: Fine Arts (including architecture, painting, photography, music, amusements, etc.)
900: History, Geography, Biography
The folks at The Straight Dope website have put together a nice history of the Dewey system.
Look for reading recommendations from each category coming soon!