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Organize Your Arts and Recreation Books in 4-Easy Steps

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The arts and recreation is another section that has something for everyone. This section is set up with 90 percent representing the arts at the beginning and moves on to entertainment, games, and sports at the end. The arts isn’t just about paintings hanging in a museum, of course. Architecture, both indoors and out, sculpture, and printing goes here. There are books here for you if you’re interested in comic books or music. Sports and recreational books of all types belong in this section as well. 

Let’s get started.

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.”

Ansel Adams
art and recreation books

Home library organization

People who love books often accumulate large collections. And when you find yourself wanting to consult a particular book, only to find yourself waste a lot of time tracking it down, it can be a frustrating experience. 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, that’s the first step.

If you suspect your collection contains a lot of General Knowledge, Philosophy and PsychologyReligionSocial ScienceLanguage,  Natural ScienceApplied Science and Technology, Literature, or Geography, Biography, and History books, I already 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 700s (Arts and recreation) section. In addition to interior design, graphic novels, symphony orchestras, fine art, and basketball, you will also find books on knitting, hip hop, throwing a party, training show dogs, mountain climbing, playing steel drums, and photography.

If  you own more than 30 arts and recreation books, read on. This post will give you the guidance to further refine the placement of the arts and recreation 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 eighth category:  the 700s Arts and Recreation.

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 Arts and Recreation category.

You may want to look over each subdivision and further subdivide your books accordingly. If you chose to make a spreadsheet of your books as suggested in “Easy Home Library Organization Using the Dewey Decimal System,” you may want to  update your books’ numbers on the spreadsheet. For instance, if you had 30 books marked as belonging in Applied Sciences, you may now have 10 of those marked at 720, 5 as 730, 3 as 770, and 12 as 780.

If you began a spreadsheet or simple card catalog to keep up with your books, you may want to update the classification numbers you used for the 700s after completing your sorting.  For more information, see “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 arts and recreation books in brief

The Dewey Decimal Classification Manual introduces the 700s arts and recreation books as those containing “description, critical appraisal, techniques, procedures, apparatus, equipment, materials of the fine, decorative, literary, performing, and recreational arts.” This section includes both serious fine art of all sorts and hobby arts like macramé and amateur photography. Music, entertainment, dancing, parties, games and sports are shelved here too. 

700 Arts and recreation

Arts and recreation’s general section contains all arts and recreation books that cover more than one of the next nine categories. For example, if a book covers the history of sculpture, painting, and decorative art, it would go in this first category. Books on the effect of social conditions, history, science, and the humanities on the arts because they include the philosopher or theory of art. Dictionaries, encyclopedias, and concordances of the fine and decorative arts as a whole would go here too. The 700-709 section also has books on education, research, travelling collections, exhibits, galleries, museums, and private collections of the arts.

Recommended general arts books:

  • The Creative Conversation: Artmaking as Playful Prayer by Bridget Benton
  • Forms of Enchantment: Writings on Art and Artists by Marina Warner
  • The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich
  • The Annotated Mona Lisa: A Crash Course in Art History from Prehistoric to Post-Modern by Carol Strickland

710 Area planning and landscape architecture

If you read the post on books in the 600s (Applied Science and Technology) you may remember seeing landscape architecture, but in the 600s, it has books addressing the engineering aspects of landscape planning like civic engineering plans involving public safety and techniques. The 700s is for books on the aesthetic design of the work. Landscape architecture, also called area planning or civic art is the design of the physical environment for public welfare, convenience, and pleasure.

Landscape architectures encompasses the plans for these designs; the principles; professional practice; technical procedures; the kinds of land tracts(parks or highways); water features in these designs such as fountains or ponds; woody plants, like trees and shrubs; and herbaceous plants for decorative purposes, like flowers and ground cover. Structures for landscape architecture, like buildings, fences, and steps; and landscape designs for cemeteries and wildlife areas are also the topics in books shelved here.

Recommended books in civic and landscape art:

  • A Landscape and Its Legacy by Dianne Aprile
  • Outdoor Living: The Ultimate Project Guide by John English
  • Arboretum and Research Forest by Sharon A. Receveur

720 Architecture


While the 710s cover architecture of the land  architecture is concerned with the exteriors and interiors of  buildings. Books on the philosophy and theory of architecture; the structure of buildings including illustrations, models, and miniatures; the history, geographic treatment; and biographies in architecture go in this section.

These books may be on the  materials and structural elements like decoration, foundations, walls, columns, arches and domes, roofs, floors, and ceilings. This includes all types of buildings: public structures for agriculture, greenhouses, government buildings, civic center buildings, transportation, industrial buildings, prisons and correctional facilities, park structures, and recreational buildings.

Other types of structures books in this section examine could be religious buildings like temples, shrines, mosques, synagogues, churches, chapels, abbeys, and cathedrals. Educational and research buildings like conservatories, elementary and secondary school buildings, college and university buildings, laboratories, museums and galleries, and libraries. Residential buildings, homes, cabins, houseboats, mobile homes, castles, and palaces, and books on the design and decoration of structures and accessories such as interior architectural elements.

Recommended books in architecture:

  • ABC of Architecture by James F. O’Gorman
  • A White House of Stone: Building America’s First Ideal in Architecture by William Seale
  • Designing Your Perfect House: Lessons from an Architect by William J. Hirsch

730 Sculpture and related arts

Sculpture of all sorts of shapes and subject matter go in this section. This includes appreciation of the artform and critical appraisals. The related plastic arts go here too. Techniques for these art forms would include direct-metal sculpture, molding, casting, carving and chiseling.  You would place books on sculpture maintenance and repair here too. Any histories of sculpture would be shelved here too.


Other topics for these books are carving and carvings of precious and semi-precious stones, wood, stone, ivory, bone, shell, ice, soap, and paper. Numismatics (the study or collection of coins, paper currency, and medals) and sigillography (study of seals used to authenticate documents) also go in this category. Sigillography is about amulets, talismans, buttons, counters, tokens, engraved seals, stamps and coins. Ceramic arts have books on pottery, porcelain, earthenware or stoneware and the techniques, procedures, equipment, and materials needed to produce them.

Artistic works with enamels like ronde bosse and cloisonné, mosaics, ornamental bricks and tile are in sculpture. Art metalwork like goldsmithing, silversmithing, jewelry, clocks and watches, ironwork, copper, and arms and armor all belong in the 730s too.

Recommended books in sculpture:

  • How to Look at Sculpture by David Finn
  • Star Wars Origami: 36 Amazing Paper-Folding Projects from a Galaxy Far, Far Away…by Chris Alexander
  •  The Spirit of Ceramic Design: Cultivating Creativity with Clay by Robert Piepenburg

740 Graphic arts and decorative arts

decorative arts

This may have been the most popular nonfiction section with my school-kid crowd, no matter the grade level. Books on drawing,  lessons, techniques, use of perspective, and drawing by subject like plants, human figures, or animals go under graphic and decorative arts. Comic books; graphic novels; fotonovelas; cartoons; caricatures; and comic strips are shelved  here as well as books on their design and production. Similarly, books on graphic design, illustration, and commercial art, silhouettes, and collections of drawings are shelved here too.

Decorative arts like dioramas, folk art, antiques, industrial art and design (creative design of mass-produced commodities), pure and applied design and decoration are all subjects in this section, Handicrafts work done by hand or very simple machines go in the 740s while crafts done with more complex machines were shelved in the 680s. Crafts like woodworking, hand carvings, woodburning, papermaking, crafts with shells, metals, rubber and plastics, beads, found objects, toys, models, miniatures, and useful objects like candles, lampshades, and scrapbooks go in this section. As do other decorative arts like making greeting cards, artificial flowers, egg decorating, calligraphy, heraldic design, illumination, decorative coloring, and floral arrangements.

textile art

Textile arts like yarn preparation and weaving, laces, pictures, hangings, tapestries, needlework, knitting, crocheting, tatting, quilting, and bead embroidery go in decorative arts. So do printing, decorative painting, dyeing, rugs, costume, fashion design, window treatments, slipcovers, table linens, and bedspreads.

Interior decoration books  for residential buildings belong in the 740s, but decorative arts for public buildings  are in the 720s. Glass and glassware that is blown, cast, decorated, fashioned, molded,  pressed, stained, painted, or leaded are shelved here.  So are mosaics and methods of glass decoration including cutting, enameling, sandblasting, engraving, and etching. Items made from glass like mirrors, ornaments, bottles, glasses, paperweights are covered here. Another topic of interest in this section is furniture and accessories including antique furniture, picture frames and framing, and outdoor furniture.

Recommended books in drawing and decorative arts:

  • The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
  • The Complete Maus  by Art Spiegelman
  • Gather & Make: Plant-Based Projects for All Seasons by Genevieve Layman
  • A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color and Design: The Basics and Beyond by Heather Thomas

750 Painting and paintings

Compared to the last section, painting is fairly straightforward, covering the philosophy and theory, techniques, procedures, equipment, materials, history, geographic treatment, and biographies of painters. The use of color in painting, iconography, the use of symbolism, allegory, mythology, and legend, genre paintings, human figures, nature, architectural subjects, and cityscapes, still life, and plants each have numerous books devoted to them. The sections books also examine all sorts of paints such as watercolor, acrylic, oil, and egg tempura.

Recommended books in painting:

  • Nature and Culture: American Landscape Painting 1825-1875 by Barbara Novak
  • The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece by Jonathan Harr
  • Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King

760 Printmaking and prints

printing art

Any general books on prints and printmaking go here. This is usually a relatively small section that has been shrinking since the digital revolution. However, some people still appreciate printing. The topics here include relief processes (block printing) using raw potatoes, rubber-stamps, wood engraving, and so on. And lithographic processes (planographic processes) using stone, aluminum and zinc are shelved here alongside books on chromolithography and serigraphy like silk-screen printing. Metal engraving, mezzo tinting, aquatinting, etching and drypoint, prints, forms of prints (like lettering, inscriptions, diplomas, art posters, bookplates, paper dolls, paper currency, counterfeit money, and postage stamps) may all be found in the 760s.

770 Photography, computer art, cinematography, videography


These technical arts were just in their infancy when Dewey created his system. If you want books on cameras and equipment or processes, like metallic salt processes and pigment processes of printing, you can find them here. Holographic images, digital photography, digital art, and any type of book on cinematography and videography belong here as well. Specific fields and types of photography like projection (remember filmstrips?), Kirlian photography, stereoscopic photograph, color photography, monochrome, indoor photography, outdoor photography, underwater, high-contrast, tabletop, photomontage, and works about existing photographic images have books in the 770s.

Recommended in photography:

  1. Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan
  2. Guide to Outdoor Digital Photography: Creating Great Nature and Adventure Photos by Jerry Monkman
  3. Fierce Beauty: Preserving the World of Wild Cats by Bhagavan Antle
  4. Strength and Compassion by Eric Greitens

780 Music

These books cover all aspects of music as an artform: the philosophy, theory, education, research, history, techniques, equipment, geographic treatments and biographies. It also houses books of scores, musicology, works for self-instruction, performances, and general principles. Musical forms; the elements of music (sound, melody, harmony, tonal systems and the like); composition (arrangement, computer applications and so on); techniques (rehearsal, conducting, accompaniment, and recording); and venues for music both indoor and outdoor are other topics included here.

Musical styles like folk music, popular music, country music, blues, soul, reggae, jazz, rock, hip hop, classical, and sacred music go here. So do books that examine any of them by the musical elements discussed above. Musical forms like the binary, ternary, rondos, and variations go here. Vocal music like opera and nondramatic forms like motets, hymns, and carols do too. You can also find books on music for mixed voices, men’s voices, women’s voices, and children’s voices and music for ensembles, full orchestras, chamber orchestras, light orchestras, percussion bands, string orchestras, wind bands, and brass bands in the 780s.

Books on musical  instruments whether they be pianos, harpsichords, organs, drums, violins, violas, cellos, zithers, lutes, mandolins, harps, flutes, oboes, bagpipes, clarinets, saxophones, harmonicas, trumpets, trombones, or French horns to name only a few can be found here. This section accommodates musical forms and instruments from all over the world.

Recommended books in music:

  • Bach: Music in the Castle of Heaven by John Eliot Gardiner
  • The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century by Alex Ross
  • M Train by Patti Smith
  • Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin Kelley
  • Coltrane: The Story of a Sound by Ben Ratliff

790 Recreational and performing arts

This tends to be a full section in most libraries because it covers so many subjects that people are passionate about. Next the drawing books, it was the most popular section in my school libraries. The music books and the performing arts books may seem to overlap. The difference is that while the music section would certainly include performers and performances, they would be strictly of musicians and musical acts. This section is specific performances  that are not strictly musical. 

The performances discussed here are travelling shows, fairs, circuses, motion pictures, radio and television, puppetry and toy theatres. Pageantry like parades, floats, cheerleading, beauty contests, and animal performances are also shelved here. Stage presentations like tragedy and serious drama, comedy and melodrama, pantomime, opera, musical plays, variety,  theatrical dancing, ballet, and modern dance go here too.

Books on indoor games and amusements include those on how to throw parties, social, folk, and national dancing, action games, trick games, puzzles, magic, card tricks, juggling, ventriloquism, and other diversions like war games, fantasy, mystery and role-playing games. Indoor games of skill like chess, checkers, darts, bowling, pinball, billiards, and electronic games like video games go in the 790s. You can also find books on games of chance using dice, wheel and tops, dominoes, mahjong, bingo, lotteries, and card games like cribbage, pinochle, rummy, and poker.

Athletic and outdoor sports and games come next. I will mention only a few. First are singing and dancing games (generally children’s games), remote-control vehicles, kites, robots, frisbees, yo-yos, pitching games, roller skating, and skateboarding. Then there are ball games like basketball, volleyball, American football, rugby, and soccer. There are racket games like tennis, squash, racquetball, and badminton. There are books on sports involving balls driven by clubs, mallets, and bats such as field hockey, hockey, baseball, and cricket. And books on weight-lifting, track and field, and gymnastics go here too.

Outdoor life activities covered in the 790s include walking, backpacking, and hiking; as well as camping and cycling. Driving motor vehicles for recreation like motor racing, motorcycle sports, and karting are shelved here too.

There are combat sports like wrestling; oriental martial arts (judo, karate, and kung fu, for instance); boxing; and fencing. Snow and ice sports like snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, curling, and Winter Olympic games belong in the 790s.

Aquatic sports include boating, canoeing, sailing, swimming, diving, surfing, and jet skiing. Air sports include bungee jumping, balloon flying, gliding, and parachuting.

Finally, equestrian and animal racing sports like horsemanship, horse racing, and dog racing are topics in this section; as are fishing (freshwater, angling, saltwater fishing, and fishing for specific types of fishes); hunting (for game and specific types of animals); and shooting other than game like skeet.

Recommended books in performing arts and recreation:

  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  • Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet by Jennifer Homans
  • Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin
  • The Blackstone Book of Magic and Illusion by Harry Blackstone
  • Hustler Days: Minnesota Fats, Wimpy Lassiter, Jersey Red, and America’s Great Age of Pool by R.A. Dyer
  • Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption, and Baseball’s Longest Game by Dan Barry
  • Annapurna, A Woman’s Place  by Arlene Blum
  • Play Their Hearts Our: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine by George Dohrmann
  • Into Thin Air by Jon Kraukauer
  • The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
  • Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hellenbrand
  • Fast Into the Night: A Woman, Her Dogs, and Their Journey North on the Iditarod Trail by Debbie Clarke Moderow
  • The Fishing Handbook: An Illustrated Guide for Anglers  by Rob Beattie

Sit back and admire your organized shelves

Once you have further subdivided your arts and recreation books, be sure to update any spreadsheets or card catalogs you may have made for them. If you don’t know how, I cover it in “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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