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The Library
The Library The Dewey Decimal System Dewey Decimal Classes Library Scavenger Hunts Dictionary Activities More Activities

The Library

library A library is a place that has a collection of books, magazines, newspapers, and other material for reading, reference, and study. Material in libraries can be read and often borrowed.

A Very Short History of Libraries:
Libraries have existed for thousands of years. Ancient Mesopotamian libraries from over 5,000 years ago contained thousands of clay tablets with cuneiform writing. A few thousand years ago, ancient Egyptian libraries used hieroglyphs on papyrus scrolls and clay tablets.

The most famous of all ancient libraries was the great library at Alexandria (in what is now Egypt). This huge public library was built around 300 B.C.; it was open to people who had a scholarly background. The library at Alexandria had perhaps up to half a million scrolls. It was destroyed by fires and theft, but was a model for libraries around the world for millennia.

In the USA, lawmakers created the Library of Congress on April 24, 1800, with an appropriation of $5,000 to buy books; the library was then located inside the US Capitol. The early library consisted of 740 volumes and three maps. In 1814, the British army invaded Washington D.C. (during the War of 1812) and the library was burned down, destroying its collection, which then numbered about 3,000 books. In order to re-start the Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson sold his extensive personal library to the government; he was paid $23,950 for his 6,487 books. As of 2006, the Library of Congress collection included over 130 million items (books, maps, recordings, photographs, and manuscripts) on about 530 miles of bookshelves. The Library of Congress is now the biggest library in the world. Its address is:

The Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20540
URL: http://www.loc.gov

The American industrialist Andrew Carnegie (1835 - 1919) funded over 2,500 open-stack public libraries in the USA (and some others elsewhere) that were built between 1883 and 1929. Before Carnegie, most libraries had closed stacks (only the librarians had access to the bookshelves; library patrons had to ask a librarian to retrieve books, so there was no browsing). In Carnegie libraries, patrons could browse among the bookshelves and choose their own books. Many Carnegie libraries are still operating.

Improvement in Classification: Dewey Decimal Categories:

Dewey Decimal
Class
Book Category
000 Generalities
100 Philosophy and Psychology
200 Religion
300 Social Sciences
400 Language
500 Natural Science and Math
600 Technology (Applied Sciences)
700 The Arts
800 Literature and Rhetoric
900 Geography and History
Melvil Dewey, a librarian from New York, published the Dewey Decimal System in 1876. Before Dewey's system, books were simply assigned spots on shelves. This made libraries difficult to organize and books hard to find, since a book's position on the shelf changed as new books were added. Also, each library had a different system.

The Dewey Decimal Classification is a system of classifying books. It divides all books into ten classes, listed at the right (for example, the 700s are The Arts). Each class is divided into 10 divisions (for example, 780 is Music) and each of these is split into 10 sections (for example, 782 is Vocal Music). Sections are split into 10 decimals (for example, 782.4 is Songbooks). Decimals can be further split into hundredths and thousandths (and more), as new subcategories are needed.

There are many different types of books. Each of these types is called a genre. The two main types of books are non-fiction (books about events or people that are real) and fiction (books about events or characters that are not real).

Genres of Books:
There are many different types of books. Each of these types is called a genre. The two main types of books are non-fiction (books about events or people that are real) and fiction (books about events or characters that are not real).

Within fiction and non-fiction, there are many different genres. Here are a few:

Non-Fiction Fiction
Expository Book - Explains a topic or informs the reader. Examples: science book, history book.
Reference Book - Extensive collection of facts. Examples: almanac, atlas, dictionary, encyclopedia.
Biography - Details the life of a person.
Autoiography - Details the life of a person, written by that person.
How-to Book - Explains how to learn a practical skill.
Essays - Someone's personal viewpoint on a topic.
Realistic Fiction - A made-up story set in a real-life setting Historical Fiction - A made-up story set in an historic period.
Fantasy - A made-up story that uses magic, talking animals, or other unreal ideas.
Science Fiction - A made-up story that involves futuristic science.
Mystery - A made-up story with a puzzling crime to solve.
Poetry - Strands of phrases that express an emotion or a story; often written in meter, rhythmic or rhyming.


Related Library Reference Activities and Worksheets:
leaf

Dewey Decimal Classification:
Printable Read and Answer Worksheet

A printable worksheet on the Dewey Decimal library classification system, with text to read, decimals to put in order, and questions to answer. Or go to the answers.
Map

Genres of Books:
Printable Read-and-Answer Worksheet

A printable worksheet on genres of books, with a short text, a list of some book genres, and questions to answer. Or go to the answers.
Reference Books

Library Reference Books Worksheet #1

Match reference books to their definitions -- almanac, atlas, dictionary, encyclopedia, telephone book, and thesaurus. Then, write which type of reference book you would use to find various types of information. Or go to the answers.
Reference Books

Library Reference Books Worksheet #2

Fill in the blanks in the text about library reference book: almanac, atlas, dictionary, encyclopedia, telephone book, and thesaurus Then, write which type of reference book you would use to find various types of information. Or go to the answers.
Scavenger Hunt

Library Scavenger Hunt Worksheets

Print these scavenger hunt worksheets, then use your library to answer the questions on each. For example, "Write the name of a set of encyclopedias in this library."


Reading Logs
Printable Worksheets

Print many different reading logs to track your reading throughout the year.
Definitions

Write Theme-Related Definitions

In these worksheete, for related words, write the definition of each word, what part of speech it is, and use it in a sentence.


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