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L. P. (Lester Paige) Breckenridge.

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UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS BU,LLETIN

Vol. X NOVEMBER 11, 1012 No. 11

[Satered Peb.l4,1902,at Urbafla,Ill.,as second-class matter under Act of Congress of Jnly 16,1894]



BULLETIN No. 9

(Eeyised Edition)

AN EXTENSION OF

THE DEWEY DECIMAL

SYSTEM OF CLASSIFICATION

APPLIED TO THE

ENGINEERING INDUSTRIES

BY

I^. P. BRECKENRIDGE

AND

G. A. GOODEJNOUGH




UNIVEESITY OF ILLINOIS
ENGINEERING EXPERIMENT STATION



URBANA, IL,L,INOIS, '
PUBI,ISHED BY THE UNIVERfel^if

Pricb: Fifty Cents
European Agent
Chapman and Hall, Ltd., London



THE Engineering Experiment Station was established by act of
the Board of Trustees, December 8, 1903. It is the purpose of
the Station to carry on investigations along various lines of en-
gineering and to study problems of importance to professional engi-
neers and to the manufacturing, railway, mining, constructional and
industrial interests of the State,

The control of the Engineering Experiment Station is vested in the
heads of the several departments of the College of Engineering. These
constitute the Station Staff, and with the Director, determine the char-
acter of the investigations to be undertaken. The work is carried on
under the supervision of the Staff, sometimes by research fellows as
graduate work, sometimes by members of the instructional staff of the
College of Engineering, but more frequently by investigators belonging
to the Station corps.

The results of these investigations are published in the form of
bulletins, which record mostly the experiments of the Station's own
staff of investigators. There will also be issued from time to time in
the form of circulars, compilations giving the results of the experiments
of engineers, industrial works, technical institutions, and governmental
testing departments.

The volume and number at the top of the title page of the cover
are merely arbitrary numbers and refer to the general publicatiohs of the
University of Illinois; above the title is given the number of tJte Engi-
neering Experiment Station bulletin or circular, which should be \Lsed
in referring to these publications.

For copies of bulletins, circulars or other information address the
Engineering Experiment Station, Urbana, Illinois.



UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
ENGINEERING EXPERIMENT STATION

Bui^tETiN No. 9 Revised Edition November, 1912

AN EXTENSION OF THE

DEWEY DECIMAL SYSTEM OF CLASSIFICATION

APPLIED TO THE

ENGINEERING INDUSTRIES

by
L,. P. Breckenridge*, Professor of Mechanicai. Engineering

and
G. A. GooDENOUGHt, Associate Professor of Mechanicai, Engineering

I INTRODUCTION

PAGE,

1 . Preliminar}' 2

2. Explanation of the Decimal System 2

3. Relative Index. 3

4. Uses and Advantages of the Classification and

Index 4

5. Variations and Modification 5

6. Acknowledg-ments 7

7. Illustrations 8

II TABLE OF CLASS NUMBERS 9

III RELATIVE INDEX 81



*University of Illinois, 1894-1909: Yale University, 1909-date.
iRecently appointed Professor of Thermodynamics.



257874



2 IIvUNOIS ENGINEERING EXPERIMENT STATION

I. Introduction.

1. Preliminary. — The decimal system of classification was
devised and elaborated by Mr. Melvil Dewey, formerly director
of the New York State Library. This system was intended pri-
marily for the use of librarians in the classification and arrange-
ment of books and pamphlets, but it was soon found that the system
furnished also a simple and effective means of classifying, index-
ing and filing literary matter of all kinds. Engineers have found
it useful for indexing technical data and information, catalogs,
reports, card systems, drawings, etc., and it has been found equally
useful by manufacturing and business concerns.

Recognizing the value of the decimal system as a means of
classifying and indexing technical literature, the department of
mechanical engineering of the University of Illinois prepared sev-
eral years ago an extension of that part of the Dewey classifica-
tion which relates to mechanical engineering. The first edition
was a small pamphlet of six pages. The demand for the extension
was so great that within a year a second edition was printed, and
this has been followed by the third and fourth editions. In each
successive edition the extension has been carried somewhat fur-
ther, and such slight changes and modifications have been made
as would add to the clearness and consistency of the system as a
whole. In the third edition was incorporated with slight modifi-
cations the extensions for railroads and railroad engineering
adopted by the International Railway Congress.

In the fourth edition are included the extensions to mechanical
and railway engineering already worked out; an extension for
electrical engineering made by Mr. J. M. Bryant of the electrical
engineering department ; and more or less complete extensions
for other branches of engineering. The whole will be, it is hoped,
a self-contained classification which will cover with fair com-
pleteness the entire ground of engineering industry.

2. Bxplanation of the Decimal System. — The essential charac-
teristic of the Dewey system is its method of division and sub-
division. The entire field of knowledge is divided into nine chief
classes numbered by the digits from i to 9. Matter of too gen-
eral a nature to be included in any of these classes is put into a
tenth class and indicated by o. The following are the primary
classes of the Dewey system :

General Works

1 Philosophy

2 Religion



EXTENSION DECIMAL SYSTEM OF CLASSIFICATION i>

3 Sociology

4 Philology

5 Natural Science

6 Useful Arts

7 Fine Arts

8 Literature

9 History

Each of these classes is again divided into nine divisions, with
a tenth division for general matter, and each division is separated
into nine sections. The sections are again sub-divided and the
process may be carried as far as desired.

To show clearly the working of the system the divisions of
class 6 (useful arts) and the sections of division 2 of this class
(engineering) are given.



6oo


Useful Arts


620


Engineering


6io


Medicine


621


Mechanical


620


Engineering-


622


Mining


630


Agriculture


623


Military


640


Domestic Economy


624


Bridge and Roof


650


Communication and
Commerce


625


Road and Railroad


660


Chemical Technology


626


Canal


670


Manufactures


627


River and Harbor


680


Mechanic Trades


628


Sanitary: Water Works


690


Building


629


Other Branches



It will be seen that the first digit gives the class; the second,
the division; and the third, the section. Thus 625 indicates
section 5 (railroad engineering) of division 2 (engineering) of
class 6 (useful arts). For convenience a decimal point is in-
serted after the section digit. Further sub-division is indicated
by digits following the decimal point. For example 625.2 is the
number indicating rolling stock; 625.23 passenger cars; 625.24
freight cars, etc.

3. Relative Index. — Following the classification is the relative
index, in which the items of the classification are arranged alpha-
betically, each with its proper class number. The index is neces-
sarily incomplete, as it is manifestly impossible to include every
subject that might arise in engineering practice.

In a highly specialized industry, as for example, the electri-
cal industry, there are thousands of technical terms indicative of
materials and processes and to include these would alone require



4 ILLINOIS ENGINEERING EXPERIMENT STATION

a volume. It is believed that the index is sufficiently complete
that the user may without difficulty assign the proper number
to almost any topic that may arise.

In some cases, the same item has two numbers. For example,
"Telephones" has the numbers 537.82 and 654.6. Reference to
the classification shows that the former number is used when the
telephone is considered as an application of the electric current,
while the latter is used when the telephone is looked upon as a
means of communication. In any case, reference to the classifi-
cation will show which number is appropriate to the item under
consideration,

4. Uses and Advantages of the Classification and Index. — The
decimal classification may be used to advantage in the indexing
and filing of notes and memoranda, clippings, general information,
articles in technical journals, drawings, catalogs or books. For
this purpose, the decimal system possesses certain important ad-
vantages over the alphabetical system.

(i) It groups allied subjects. For example, suppose the
alphabetical arrangement to be applied to a case of catalogs.
The catalogs of the various machine tools, as planers, lathes,
drills, hammers, etc., would be scattered throughout the case.
With the decimal system, on the other hand all these catalogs
would be grouped together under the class number 621.9.

(2) Unless an elaborate system of cross reference is used,
the alphabetical scheme is ambiguous ; in many cases there is
doubt as to what letter should be given a subject. For example,
take the item "Automatic pneumatic block signals." This might
almost equally well be indexed under A, P, B or S. With the
decimal system this item has its one number 656.256.4.

(3) The decimal system has the advantage of flexibility and
an indefinite capacity for extension. For the indexing of books and
catalogs only the main division and sections will, in general, be
found necessary; but for card indexes of technical literature the
most minute subdivisions must ordinarily be used. In individual
cases, the user may find that still further division is required.
An extension may tlien be made by adding another decimal place,
and if still further sul)division is required still another digit may
be used.

The average engineer, for example, can easily index all
matter relating to traveling cranes under the single class number
621.872. The designer or builder of cranes may, however, have
so much matter relating to this special subject that further sub-
division is needed. By the addition of a digit, this matter may



EXTENSION DECIMAL SYSTEM OF CLASSIFICATION 5

be divided into nine groups designated by 621. 872.1, 621.872.2,
etc. ; and, if necessary, each of these may be divided into nine
new groups.

The effectiveness of the Dewey system has been severely
tested in the Engineering College of the University. The
mechanical engineering department has a card index of current
periodical literature which now contain 20,000 cards. These are
indexed by the Dewey system. The classification is first made
by. students, and is then revised by one competent person. It
seldom occurs that there is any doubt as to the proper class num-
ber for a given card. For the guidance of those who may wish to
use the classification in connection with a card index a sample
card is shown on page 8. The class number 621.63 serves to
locate the card in the case and the remaining notes in the margin
indicate the periodical, volume, page and date. Thus the article
in question appeared in the Proceedings of the Institution of
Civil Engineers, Vol. 123, page 272, December, 1895; it occupies
55 pages and has 31 illustrations.

Blue prints received from manufacturers; all catalogs, of
which there is a large number; clippings, photographs and illus-
trative class room material; all these are indexed and filed by
the decimal system. In every case the system has been found
thoroughly satisfactory.

5. Variations and Modifications. — In the working out of the
extension of the various subjects the main divisions and sections
as published by Mr. Dewey have been retained unchanged. It
cannot be denied that there are many glaring inconsistencies in the
arrangement of engineering subjects. For example, no engineer
of to-day would put electrical engineering as a division under
mechanical engineering (621.3) coordinate with blowing and
pumping engines (621.6) ; nor would he relegate concrete to an
unimportant place under building materials. There is no doubt
that a committee of competent engineers could vastly improve the
logical arrangement of the class numbers for engineering subjects.
However, the system as it is, with its faults, has been in use several
years and has become more or less universal. It is used in libraries
and by many business concerns and individuals. It has become a
sort of a standard like the Sellers system of screw threads. For
this reason alone, radical changes would be inadvisable. The in-
experienced user will be likely to see room for improvement and
will be tempted to make changes in the system for his individual
use. Such changes can only lead to confusion. It is far better
to accept the system merely as an arbitrary set of numbers cor-



6



ILUNOIS ENGINEERING EXPERIMENT STATION



responding to certain topics and resolutely dismiss rigid ideas of
logical sequence and consistency.

There are certain permissible modifications, however, which
may be made without violating the integrity of the system. To
avoid the writing of long numbers a single letter may be used for
the first three or four digits. Thus an electrical engineer would
naturally have most of his material under 621.3 (electrical en-
gineering), and for this number he could substitute the single
letter E. Likewise, a railroad man might use R for 625 (railroad
engineering).

Another modification consists in the use of an alphabetical
arrangement for certain sub-sections combined with the decimal
arrangement of main sections.' This is sometimes useful in
minute subdivisions. For example, under 621.728, material and
supplies for the foundry, these various materials may be arranged
in alphabetical order.

The use of form divisions is a modification that may often be
employed to advantage. There are certain set forms that are
used throughout the whole range of the Dewey classification.
These are :

01 Philosophy or theory

02 Compends, text books, etc.

03 Cyclopedias, dictionaries

04 Essays, addresses

05 Periodicals

06 Societies

07 Education, teaching schools, colleges, universities

08 Tables, calculations miscellanies

09 History progress and development

These forms may be further extended ; thus :

064 Exhibits, etc. (under societies)
072 Laboratories (under universities)

Other form divisions which apply particularlv to engineering
are the following:

001 Statistics

002 Quantities and costs

003 Contracts and specifications

004 Designs and drawings

005 Executive

006 Working and maintenance



EXTENSION DECIMAL SYSTEM OF CLASSIFICATION "

007 Laws

008 Patents

009 Reports

These form divisions may be enclosed in parentheses and an-
nexed directly to the usual class number. Thus 62 (07) indicates
engineering education; 621.32 (09), progress of electric lighting;
621.57 (008), patents on ice-making machinery, etc. The object
of this parenthesis separation of the form divisions is convenience
in cross-references. For example if one is interested in patents
he may write his class numbers as follow :

(008)62 Patents — Engineering
(008)66 Patents, — Chemical technology
(008)69 Patents — Building

In this way all cards on patents are grouped together.

Other modifications will suggest themselves to the user as he
becomes more familiar with the system.

6. Acknozvledgments. — The authors are much indebted to Mr.
J. M. Bryant for his work on the extension of electrical engineer-
ing and to Mr A. L. Voge, Washington, D. C, for valuable criti-
cisms and suggestions.



ILLINOIS ENGINEERING EXPERIMENT STATION



Sample Card from Card Index



624.63

fuc. ^. f. ^.



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Online LibraryL. P. (Lester Paige) BreckenridgeAn extension of the Dewey decimal system of classification applied to the engineering industries → online text (page 1 of 9)