How are biographies organised in a library? (Revealed!)

How are biographies organised in a library
How are biographies organised in a library?

One of the easiest places to get confused when looking for a particular thing, especially when you don’t know how  biographies are organised in a library.

Some people spend valuable minutes and sometimes productive hours searching for a biography in a library.

In this article, we are going to look at the methods by which biographies are organised in a library.

Location of biographies in a library.

Before we move forward, it is important to note that biographies are nonfiction.

Based on stories of people’s lives, Therefore, they are always located in the nonfiction department of any library.

How are biographies organised in a library.

Biographies are displayed in the library based on the order in which the individual library wants to display them to the readers.

Although no specific rules exist for guiding how biographies are displayed in the library, here are the five ways they are arranged.

  1. The last name method.
  2. The Dewey decimal method.
  3. The Library of Congress classification method.
  4. Digital method.
  5. Other methods.

1. The last name method.

The best method of arranging biographies in a library is through the use of alphabetical order of last name of the person.

“The person” here means the one whose biography is written and not the author of the biography.

This is the most effective and easiest way to help the reader in search of a particular biography.

In this last method, a reader does not need to know the name of the author or the publisher to find the biography, all he or she need is the name of the person himself.


If a person is looking for a biography of the famous George Washington, all that is needed from the person is only the last name “Washington”.

This is to help him or her narrow down the search to specific biographies with that name.

Advantages of the last name method.

Faster result.

It minimised the process of getting the biography into a library.

Easy navigation.

It helps in narrowing the search by pointing out the specific directions to look at.

reduces the margin of error.

Using the last name method drastically reduces the possibility of getting the wrong biography into the hands of the reader.


Not favourable to unknown biographies.

If the subject of the biography is not a famous or popular person, it is very difficult to access the biography.

Some famous authors wrote biographies of subjects that were not popular.

Finding these types of biographies is difficult in the last name method.

Subject centric.

It gives too much attention to the subject and totally neglects the efforts of the author.

2. Dewey decimal method.

This is the use of Dewey decimal number method to designate the biography section, then put the subjects alphabetically by their surname.

The dewey decimal number for  biographies allocate this numbers exclusively for biography, “92” or “921” or “B” for the biography section.

The call number for an individual biography uses the Dewey number 921 and the first three letters of the last name of the person whom the book is written about.


The biography label “921 Oba” is the biography of Barrack Obama, the former United States president.

Or “B Nix” is the biography of former president Richard Nixon.

This are two methods used in dewey decimal for only biographies.


  • Shorten the names by allocating numbers.
  • It aids in shortening names and titles to just a few numbers and alphabets.
  • Easy indexing. It is easy to put biographies on their respective shelves.


It is Confusing.

The presence of the numbers usually makes people unfamiliar with the system get confused easily.

People searching for biography books find it more difficult and time-consuming than the last name method.

3. The Library of Congress method.

In this method, biographies are organized and classified under the topic with which the subject (individual) is most closely identified.

However, when an individual who has contributed to several different fields is the subject of a biography, the work is assigned a classification determined by the topic covered in that particular work.

types of classifications.

The Library of Congress classifies biographies in two different ways: in a general class and in a biography class.

1. General class.

A general class is any class in the Library of Congress classification schedule other than a biography class.

2.Biography class.

A biography class is any class established in the Library of Congress classification schedule specifically for biographical works.

A biography class can include a collection of an individual’s letters or a compilation of a person’s speeches.

4. Public library.

If it is a public library, the most common way of organising biographies is by using the alphabetical order of the last name of the person.

The aim here is to make things easier for regular readers and first time searchers.

5. Private library.

If it is a private or personal library, the arrangement of biographies should be based on the preference of the owner or the clients that use the library.

6. Other methods of organising biographies in a library.

The constant evolving of libraries brought a new method of storing and usage of biography books.

The digital versions.

The digital versions of libraries were introduced on our smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets.

In this method, the Kindle Paperwhite method is the most popular.

It stored your biography based on the most recent biographies or on the authors in your lists.

This helps in streamlining your biography collections and makes it easier to access the biographies you are looking for with as few as a few taps on the screen.

For elementary schools..

For elementary schools that have a wide range of students, the best method of organising biographies in particular and other books in general is:

1. Employ the Dewey Decimal system.

2. Sort small children’s books into a separate section.

3. Sort the books into alphabets from A-Z.

4. Put them on a lower shelf where children can easily access them without any help.

This will encourage youngsters to take an interest in reading biographies early in life.

How many biographies can I check out from the library?

It depends on the type of library.and the membership structure.

Most biographies allow you to check out between 4 and 10 biographies at a time.

Other libraries have no limit to the number of books that you can check out.

Therefore, the best way to find out is to visit the library nearest to you and ask the attendant or any official for guidance on the accurate information.

In what order are the biographies arranged?

Biographies are arranged either by the following: the dewey decimal method, the last name method, the library of congress method, or your preferred method if it is a personal library.

How to find a biography in a library.

  1. Go to the library.
  2. Enter the main hall or reception.
  3. Check the labels of the different departments.
  4. Proceed to the Non-fiction department.
  5. Look for the shelf where biographies are kept.
  6. Search for the biography you are looking for.
  7. Use of organising as discussed in this article.
  8. You will get it very simply.

Problems associated with biographies in the library.

The following are some the most common problems affecting biography books in the library, they includes:

  • Worn out copies.
  • Lack of new updates.
  • Poor arrangement methods.
  • Popularity decline.
  • Borrowing limitations.
  • Damage to the pages.

Tips on reading biographies in the library?

  1. Avoid any distractions.
  2. Find a secluded area that is less crowded.
  3. Choose an interesting biography.
  4. Be comfortable.
  5. Reflect on each significant lesson.
  6. Read on your own terms.
  7. Don’t speed-read.

Who is in charge of arranging biographies in a library?

The overall overseer of a library is called a librarian, while the person in charge of arranging biographies in the library is called a cataloger or catalog librarian.

Whom do you contact when you have trouble finding a biography?

Contact the official in charge of such a department, or go to the reception desk and file a complaint.

How do you alphabetise a biography?

Use the surname of the subjects arranged in ascending alphabetical order from A-Z.

What happens when a biography is put on the wrong shelf?

When a biography is put on the wrong shelf, people find it very difficult to trace.

In conducting their job, the catalog librarians will come across errors and correct them immediately.


How biographies are organized in a library depends on all the issues we discussed above.

It makes no difference whether you use last name method, dewey decimal method, library of congress methods or any other method

The overall goal should be to make it easier for readers to access and read without too much difficulty.



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