May 26, 2022

Conference Paper: “Crowdsourcing the Dewey Decimal Classification: When Users Become Contributors”

The following conference paper recently became available via the IFLA Library.


Crowdsourcing the Dewey Decimal Classification: When Users Become Contributors


Elise Conradi
National Library of Norway

Rebecca Green
Dewey Decimal Classification, OCLC

Alex Kyrios
Dewey Decimal Classification, OCLC


via IFLA Library

Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2016 – Columbus, OH – Connections. Collaboration. Community in Session S12 – Classification and indexing. In: Subject Access: Unlimited Opportunities, 11-12 August 2016, Columbus, Ohio, USA.


Over half of all Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) numbers in bibliographic records are built numbers—numbers generated by following instructions to add notational components from various parts of the DDC to base numbers. WebDewey includes a number building tool that assists users in building Dewey numbers and permits them to contribute those numbers and their corresponding user terms for review and approval; vetted numbers are returned to WebDewey with accompanying Relative Index terms so other users can access and use the contributed built numbers.

This paper describes the initial behavior of users from the English and Norwegian WebDewey communities in contributing Dewey numbers and access terms. Phenomena examined include, for example, the complexity of the numbers that users build, the frequency with which users accept default terms, and the kinds of changes that users make in the contributed terms.

Direct to Full Text Paper (11 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.