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Applied Science and Technology Books Organized in 4 Easy Steps

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Almost everyone has at least one interest in applied science and technology. Difficult books about aerospace engineering are shelved here, so are cookbooks. And as anyone who cooks knows, some of those are difficult. Books about knee surgery and books about motorcycles go here. Maybe you have a lot of books on gardening or dogs, if you do, this is the post for you.

Let’s get started.

"Humans are the reproductive organs of technology."

Kevin Kelly
applied science and technology books

Home Library Organization

People who love books often accumulate large collections. And when you find yourself wanting to consult a particular book but you waste a lot of time tracking it down, it can be frustrating. You’re pretty sure you still have it, but it’s lost among all the others. 

In an earlier post, I outlined the advantages of using the Dewey Decimal Classification system for organizing your nonfiction books. If you have a lot nonfiction print books in your collection, reading that post is the first step.

If you suspect your collection contains a lot of General Knowledge, Philosophy and PsychologyReligionSocial ScienceLanguage, or Natural Science, Arts and Recreation, Literature, or Geography, Biography and History books, I have posts for those types of books as well.

In my first post, I listed a few of the types of subjects that belong in the 600s (Applied Science and Technology) section. In addition to engineering, planes, trains, cars, and manufacturing, you will also find books on treating diseases; exercise regimes; raising a vegetable garden; cleaning house; raising healthy, happy children; running a business; and carpentry.

If  you own more than 30 applied science and technology books, read on. This post will give you the guidance to further refine the placement of the applied science and technology books in your collection.

Dewey Decimal Categories

The chart above covers the basic ten categories of the DDC. If you haven’t gone through your books to decide where they belong, you may want to look at my previous post and go through those steps first. Then come back here for more in depth information on the seventh category:  the 600s Applied Sciences and Technology.

The 4-step process of home library organization

The four-step home organization process is covered in more detail in “Easy Home Library Organization Using the Dewey Decimal System.” But here, briefly, are the steps:

  1. Examine the chart above.
  2. Decide in which category each book belongs. 
  3. Make piles of books for each category.
  4. Decide where each category will be housed.

Very few personal collections contain books in every category. You may be surprised to find 90 percent of your books can be grouped into one specific section.

Below is a chart that further subdivides the Applied Sciences and Technology category.

Applied Science and Technology Books

You may want to look over each subdivision and further subdivide your books accordingly. If you chose to keep records of your books as suggested in “Easy Home Library Organization Using the Dewey Decimal System, you may want to  update your books’ numbers. For instance, if you had 30 books marked as belonging in Applied Sciences, you may now have 10 of those marked at 620, 5 as 630, 3 as 650, and 12 as 680. You can find more information in “Simple Record-Keeping for Your Home Library.”

Every book collection is different. The point is to narrow your collection down more specifically, so you will be able to locate the books effortlessly when you need to find one. An added benefit is the serendipitous connections that can be made when similar books are placed together. 

The applied science and technology books in brief

In many public libraries in the United States, this is the second largest of the ten major Dewey Decimal sections, second only to the 300s (social sciences).

Sometimes my school students would confuse the 500s (natural sciences) with the 600s (applied sciences and technology).

Here’s how I explained it to them. The 500s have books about the things you find in nature. Even if there were no people on the planet, these things would exist (math being a possible exception).

The 600s are applied sciences. They are the sciences that have come about as a result of humans interacting with their environment. So our manipulation of plants and mammals gives us agriculture; our manipulation of physical principles and materials create all sorts of technology like televisions and bicycles; and our manipulation of edible materials create recipes.

600 Applied Science (technology)

The first in the applied sciences section, from 600-609, covers the books that provide overviews that would fit inside several of the subcategories in 600s. Technical drawing can apply to engineering, manufacturing, and building, so general technical drawing books go in this category. Books on hazardous materials and patents would go here too. And, like all the sections, general dictionaries, encyclopedias, and concordances of general applied sciences and technologies would be shelved here.

Recommended in general applied science and technology books:

  • The Way Things Work, published in 1989, 2000, and 2016 by David Macaulay
  • Inventing Modern America; From the Microwave to the Mouse by David E. Brown
  • They Made America: From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine: Two Centuries of Innovators by Harold Evans

610 Medicine and health

xray technology

Since this section covers a massive amount of material and subjects, I make a post to break it down further in the future. For now, I’ll just touch lightly on some of the topics included in the 610s.

The books covered in the 610s are for humans. Health and medicine for animals will either be in veterinary medicine in the 630s or in the 590s under animals. Anatomy, biochemistry, and biophysics belong in this section. Books on the medicine and health professions, professional medical relationships, and biographies of individuals in the healthcare fields along with those on education and research in medicine and nursing go in the 610s.

All the systems of the body (respiratory, circulation, digestion and so on), what they are composed of and how they work, how to maintain their health and how to treat their diseases and injuries are shelved in this section. This includes mental health issues and research and treatment for them.

Health and safety go in this area, so do books on nutrition, exercise, cleanliness, and healthy habits. I mentioned above that treatments of diseases of all types go in the 610s. So books on pharmaceuticals and therapeutic interventions are shelved here.

Finally, this section houses books on specialized areas of medicine and health including dentistry, audiology (hearing), geriatrics, gynecology, obstetrics, and pediatrics.

Recommended medicine and health books:

  • The Take-Charge Patient: How You Can Get the Best Medical Care by Martine Ehrenclou
  • How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
  • A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes by Adam Rutherford
  • Death by Food Pyramid: How Shoddy Science, Sketchy Politics, and Shady Special Interests Have Ruined Our Health by Denise Minger
  • Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen
  • How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris
  • The Price of Ovulation: The Truth about Fertility Drugs and Birth Defects, and a Solution to the Problem by Terence Mix

620 Engineering and allied operations


People who understand this stuff (like my nephew Sam) have a completely different kind of brain than I do. Maybe you are one of those people. You could probably teach me a thing or two. But for what it’s worth, I’m going to briefly to describe the types of books that go in the 620s.

Engineering that can be applied to multiple uses go in this section. This includes design, quality, fine particle and remote control technology, surface engineering, and nanotechnology. Sam once told me he was taking a class in applied statics. They go here too. Books on vibrations, be they sound or mechanical go here. Naturally all sorts of individual fields of engineering—mechanical, energy, steam, and plasma (to name a few), and communications systems (like analog, digital, telecommunications, radio and television) are also shelved in this section.

Books about computer software and programming belong in the 000s (General Knowledge), but books about computer hardware and hardware systems fit into engineering, so do electronics, machine technology, and military and nautical engineering. Civil engineering also goes here, so books on structural engineering, underground construction, landscape architecture, hydraulic engineering of waterways, and public sanitation of water supply, sewage treatment and disposal as well as waste technology do too.

Finally, the ever popular section of books (at least among elementary school-aged boys) are the books on branches of engineering relating to transportation, aerospace, aircraft, land vehicles like cars, trucks, engines and motorcycles, and remote control engineering.

Recommended books in engineering:

  • The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
  • The Great Bridge by David McCullough
  • The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

630 Agriculture and related technologies


Future Farmers of America (FFA) was, by far, the largest club in the high school where I worked for eleven years. So this is an area of interest to many. And even if you are not a professional farmer chances are the books in this area would be of interest to you as a hobby. If you don’t have room around your home for a garden growing container plants and herbs might be a possibility. 

Agriculture might have books on farm buildings, tools, machinery and equipment, soil sciences, cultivation and harvesting, clearing, drainage, revegetation, water conservation, fertilizers, soil conditioners, growth regulators, plant injuries, diseases, pests, field and plantation crops (like tobacco, tea, coffee, and cocoa), grasses, legumes,and forage crops. But this section also includes books for people who raise flower and vegetable gardens of all kinds.

Books on animal husbandry, or raising animals for food or their products like their fur, wool, milk, eggs, or honey go in the 630s, so do books about pets, from dogs to snakes to peacocks. So, naturally, the veterinary medicine books go here as well. Books on beekeeping and silkworm manufacture belong here too. 

Finally, books on hunting and fishing conservation as it relates to  trapping, fisheries, commercial fishing, whaling, aquariums,  and aquaculture and the conservation are shelved in this section.  Books on recreational hunting, fishing, and the like go in the 700s, Arts and Recreation.

Recommended books in agriculture:

  • Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers by Mark Shephard
  • The Seasoned Gardener: Garden Wisdom Cultivated from More than Four Decades by Carolyn Singer
  • Garden Wisdom 365 Days by Cheryl Wilfong
  • Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs, and the Chesapeake Bay by William W. Warner

640 Home and family management

home management

I feel very comfortable in this section since a fair amount of my time has been devoted to my home and family. This section contains purchasing guides for homeowners, and books about meal planning and cookbooks go in this section. In most public libraries, the cookbooks alone take up a hefty hunk of real estate.

Other housing concerns like equipment needed for different rooms; for cleaning (think vacuum cleaners); utilities (options for heating, lighting, air conditioning and the like); furnishings; sewing; and clothing go here. So do books on management of personal and family life, includes caring for your hair, skin, and makeup as well as books on social skills and intrafamily relationships. This is where you find books on how to raise children and care for elderly parents.

Books on managing public institutions like office buildings, hotels, schools, and religious institutions  with their housekeeping  involving maintenance, laundry, cleaning, and pest control are shelved here too. 

Recommended books by home and family management:

  • Amy Barickman’s Vintage Notions: An Inspirational Guide to Needlework, Cooking, Sewing, Fashion, and Fun by Amy Barickman
  • Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr
  • How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food  by Mark Bittman
  • Golden Anniversaries: the Seven Secrets of Successful Marriage by Charles D. and Elizabeth A. Schmitz
  • 18 Master Values: Be the Parent You Wish You’d Had by Christine Crockett Smith

650 Management and auxiliary services

business management

The management and auxiliary services  is where the practical books for running businesses are shelved.  Books office services like security, equipment, insurance companies, clerical services, and records management are shelved here too. Business communications are covered with concerns like penmanship(!), photocopying, and keyboarding. My guess is, these sections will be phased out eventually.  But books on accounting, personnel management, executive management, production management, materials management, marketing, advertising, and public relations are in no danger of being phased out.

Recommended books in management:

  • What Color is Your Parachute? A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career Changers by Richard N. Bolles
  • Conscious Business: How to Build through Values by Fred Kofman
  • The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu

660 Chemical engineering and related technologies

chemical engineer

Industrial technology is something we all interact with every day whether we work in industry or not. Biotechnology is the application of living organisms to the manufacture of products including microbiology, biochemical engineering and genetic engineering. The technology involved in industrial chemicals; explosives (fireworks, matches, and charcoal); fuels (wood, coal, and so on); beverage technology (wine, beer, and vinegar); and food technologies (Clark Griswold’s food additives and packaging of foods). Books on industrial oils, fats, waxes, and gases (petroleum and natural gas) go here too. So do ceramic technologies like glass, enamels, and pottery. Industries that produce cleaning  and painting supplies like bleaches, dyes, inks, paints and polishes, and other organics products like surfactants, glycerin, adhesives, and perfumes are shelved in the 660s. Metallurgy books go in this section too.

Recommended books in chemical engineering:

  • Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life by Marcus Wohlsen
  • Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsessions with Bottled Water by Peter Gleick
  • Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller
  • Encyclopedia of Pottery and Porcelain, 1800-1960 by Elisabeth Cameron

670 Manufacturing


This may have been a huge section in public libraries in the mid-twentieth century for all I know, but today it is very small in most of them. 

This section, depending on the library, may contain books on planning and design for manufactured products; factory operations and management; metalworking processes and primary metal products (casting, rolling, forging, pressing); joining and cutting metals in welding and bonding; finishing and surface treatment of metals and metal coatings for nonmetals; and primary products. Lumber processing, wood products, leather, paper, textiles, elastomer and elastomer products (rubber and latex) and other industrially manufactured products might be included too.

Recommended books on manufacturing:

  • On Paper: The Everything of its Two-Thousand Year History by Nicholas Basbanes
  • Wearable Prints, 1760-1860: History, Materials, and Mechanics  by Susan W. Greene

680 Manufacture of products for specific uses


This section is where libraries shelve books on handicrafts; repairs of household equipment; instruments for measuring  distance, weight, and time; calculating machines; small forge work like blacksmithing; locksmithing; small firearms; home workshops for woodworking and metalworking; fabric furnishings; working leather and leather goods like parchment, saddles, footwear, gloves, and luggage; book making; making of clothes and accessories; sewing equipment and supplies; dressmaking; packaging; tobacco supplies; carts, wagons, and wheelbarrows; and toys and equipment for specific activities like camping or sailing.

Recommended books in manufacture for specific uses:

  • Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World by David S. Landes
  • A Blacksmithing Primer: A Course in Basic and Intermediate Blacksmithing by Randy McDaniel
  • Book Design and Production: A Guide for Authors and Publishers  by Malcolm E. Baker
  • The Cult of Lego by John Baichtal and Joe Meon

690 Construction of buildings

building manufacture

If you’ve ever considered building a shed or a house for yourself, here’s your section. You can find books on planning analysis; engineering design; construction; building materials (lumber, stones, concrete, glass, and metals); practices (plans and drawing specifications); construction for specific materials like masonry, lathing, and stucco work; carpentry; roofing; utilities like plumbing, electrical wiring, heating, and ventilating; and detail finishing such as cladding, suspended ceilings, finishing woodwork, and floor coverings.

Recommended books in buildings:

  • House by Tracey Kidder
  • Cheap, Quick, and Easy: Imitative Architectural Materials, 1870-1930 by Pamela H. Simpson
  • Timber Frames: Designing Your Custom Home  by Jeremy Bonin
  • Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options by Greg Pahl

Sit back and admire your organized shelves

book and coffee

Once you have further subdivided your applied science and technology books, be sure to update any records you may have made for them. If you don’t know how, see “Simple Record-Keeping for Your Home Library.” Part of the joy of having a system is that you will never need to worry about misplacing a beloved book again.

Now pour yourself a favorite beverage and enjoy your organized book collection.

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