Taking the Pain out of the DDC

Matthew Imrie, Farringtons School

cards2Card game

The Dewey Decimal Classification System is a brilliant classification system that is in use across the world. It has been in use since 1876 and its function in being able to find a book quickly and easily has made it the go to classification system for library services around the world. Along with my fellow stereotypical Librarians I love Dewey and what it does, but will admit that to the casual user it can seem a bit complicated and confusing in places.

Teaching students how Dewey works can be a painful exercise, often for the librarian as well as the students, for apart from being an incredibly useful tool to classify and find books, Dewey can be incredibly boring to learn and teach.

With that thought in mind I have been tinkering with ways of teaching the Dewey to my students in a manner that does not make their eyes glaze over. So far I have come up with a card game that although started with a simple aim of introducing students to Dewey has become rather popular with friends and colleagues around the UK as well as in other parts of the world.

The game is designed be used from Year 7 and up but can be played with younger students.
It is currently called the Dewey Decimal Classification Card Game but that lacks a certain je ne sans quoi, so if anyone comes up with a blinder of a game name please let me know!

I made test prints to see what they would look like and decided that the cards were a bit too stubby, so I lengthened them slightly to better resemble playing cards.

Each picture card is unique and has been created with posed Lego minifigures, it has a corresponding Dewey Card.

I am currently creating supplementary cards which I will make available as soon as I am able.

The game rules are as follows:


Each game set should have two decks, a Dewey Deck and a Picture Deck consisting of 32 cards each.

There should also be game rules. Please note that players are welcome to adapt the game to the players.

Players encountering the Dewey for the first time can play the game using the main classes at the top of each card and at the end of the game get an extra point if they match up the Picture Card with the correct Dewey Card.

Advanced gamers and Librarians can play using the subject specific Dewey Numbers at the bottom of each card.

Game Rules

Card Game:

The game can be played with a minimum of two players, but is more interesting with more.

Shuffle the decks but keep them separate.

The aim of the game is to have no cards from either deck by the end of the game.

Deal out both decks to people playing the game.

The Picture Decks must remain face down in front of the players.

All players must hold their Dewey cards.

The person on the left of the dealer flips their first Picture Card face up.

If the player to the left of the player that flipped the Picture Card cannot match it with a corresponding Dewey Card they must pick up the card and place it in the middle of their Picture Cards.

If the player can match the Picture card with a Dewey Card then the two cards are placed face up next to each other in the middle of the player circle.

This continues until a player runs out of Picture Cards.

When this happens the Player with no Picture Cards must put down a Dewey Card and gameplay starts to go anti-clockwise.

At this point players must swap their Picture Decks for their Dewey Decks.

If the person to the right of that player cannot match a Picture Card to a Dewey Card then they must pick up the card.

If a player runs out of Dewey Cards then the game reverts to the clockwise direction using Picture Cards.

Gameplay can continue until all the cards are used or until a player runs out of both types of cards.

Book Hunt:

This game uses only the picture cards.

Deal random cards from the Picture Deck to students and ask them to find a relevant book that will match up with the card.

The winner is the student that finds the most books.

Memory Game:

Place both decks of cards face down on a table.

Flip one Picture Card and one Dewey Card.

If you can match the Picture Card and the Dewey Card put them together, if not flip them face down again and try to match another two.

Please note: the game is still in active development and but the game is stable enough to play, the rules and cards may change with little to no warning.

Soundbytes from Librarians:

Best library thing you’ll see all year.

By far the best Dewey gamification I’ve seen!

This is a great game –a fun and geeky way to actually play with the profession.


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