Cutter Classification

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Cutter Expansive Classification System

The Cutter Expansive Classification system exists as a series of increasingly subdivided versions, ranging from the First (simplest & for the smallest libraries) upward. Forbes Library uses Cutter's Seventh Classification. In the Children's Department, the Sixth Classification is used, except for History which follows the Seventh. For examples of how these classifications are used in the existing collection, you can look up any subject in the library's online catalog.

The system was developed by Charles Ammi Cutter (1837-1903), who was Librarian at the Forbes Library from 1894-1903. It lost popularity gradually to the Dewey Decimal system in public libraries; in academic libraries it has been replaced by the Library of Congress system, which was developed partly from Mr. Cutter’s ideas (hence the similarity).

Quick Guides

Finding Books at Forbes | PDF version
Includes a summary of shelving locations and tips for finding popular materials.

Shelving Rules in Cutter (PDF)
Covers how to find a book given its call number, and how to put books in proper order. A second page summarizes the semantics of Expansive Classifications for those who are interested.

Dewey-Cutter Concordance (PDF)

Cutter Call Numbers in Arts & Music (PDF)

In Depth

Expansive Classification: Part I: The First Six Classifications. EBook hosted by (The formatting is crucial, so be sure to use the "read online" option or download the PDF.)
Includes schedules of the first six classifications, as well as extensive notes on the systems purpose and use. Note that schedules of the seventh classification are incomplete and are not available online at this time.

About Charles Ammi Cutter

Charles Ammi Cutter biography by Pip Stromgren, originally published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Charles Ammi Cutter a short biography by Noah Sheola.

Recommended reading

Miska, Francis L (ed.). Charles Ammi Cutter, Library Systematizer. Libraries Unlimited. 1977. (Forbes Catalog | WorldCat)
A collection of writings by Charles Ammi Cutter, including excerpts from his personal correspondence which which have not been published elsewhere. Also includes a biography and essays on Cutter's contributions to library science.

Miksa, Francis L. Charles Ammi Cutter: Nineteenth-Century Systematizer of Libraries. University of Chicago, June 1974. (Dissertation).

Page last changed: November 09, 2012, at 11:11 AM EST.