The DDC is a classification system that is used worldwide by libraries in more than 135 countries, with a majority of them not being English-speaking. We think it is time this broad international nature of Dewey use be reflected not only by numerous translations of the system, but finally in the Dewey numbers themselves.
Effective immediately, the editorial team has decided to move away from the decimal point in the Dewey numbers, with its use in decimal numbers being largely limited to English-speaking countries. The decimal point has for far too long encumbered DDC adoption and use in other parts of the world. The German translation even went to such length as calling the decimal point the “Dewey-Punkt” in the Glossary, because (of course!) in Europe and many other parts of the world, the comma is being used as the decimal marker.
We are predicting that the new international “look” of Dewey numbers will grow quickly on our users around the world, classifiers and information-seekers alike. If you are a subscriber to WebDewey, you will see the decimal comma appear as it is rolled-out in the next few days. I hope libraries will adapt quickly and change their data, signage, and spine labels as soon as possible.
How does it work in practice? For example, 394.262 will become 394,262. Easy! And it will finally allow our German user to enter a Dewey number completely from the numeric keypad, a long requested feature.
What’s next in store for Dewey numbers? After the implementation of the decimal comma, even more is planned to enhance the utility of Dewey numbers for organizing knowledge of all kind. We don’t want to give away all that we are working on, but let’s think for a moment how Dewey will keep pace with the exponential growth in knowledge we are experiencing today. What happens when we run out of (real) numbers? The answer is clear: we have to expand the set and move to complex numbers, adding an imaginary part to the real Dewey number. The devil is in the details, but don’t be surprised to see Dewey numbers like (808,882 + 006,752i) in the near future!