What Authors and Publishers Need to Know About CIP, PCIP, MARC, LCCN, PCN

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Confused about what all the initials mean?

Wonderful outline of what you need to know by DGI, Connecting publishers and librarians for the benefit of readers everywhere.

CIP stands for Cataloging-In-Publication. It is a service originally established by the Library of Congress to assist publishers and libraries by providing bibliographic descriptions of soon-to-be-published books. There is a common misconception that CIP is a number but it is actually a block of text (usually found on the copyright page of a book) that describes the book using a very specific set of vocabulary and structure. The text block includes Library of Congress authorized subject headings, classification numbers for both the LC and Dewey Decimal systems, and all the information librarians need to get the book ready to put on the shelf in their libraries.

Publishers can apply for CIP to the Library of Congress. However, some publishers, especially self-publishing authors or very small presses, do not qualify for the CIP Program.

PCIP (Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication) is data, prepared by trained professional catalogers, which meets all the standards of records prepared by the Library of Congress. It comes in the form of a block of text which is inserted into a copyright page; in addition, an electronic version of the catalog record is sent to OCLC and SkyRiver, two major cataloging databases. PCIP services are available to any publisher or self-publishing author, for material in any format (print, audio, DVD, ebook, etc.).

The MARC (MAchine-Readable Cataloging) record is a computer file containing the PCIP text block in coded form. The file is delivered to OCLC and SkyRiver soon after the text document is delivered to the publisher. These records can be located and downloaded by libraries as part of their regular workflow. The records can only be opened and read by using special bibliographic software which libraries have and most publishers do not, unless publishers are creating their own cataloging for their titles.

 “But I already have an LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number) or PCN (Pre-assigned Control Number)—isn’t that the same thing?”

Publishers that qualify for CIP receive an LCCN, and their work is cataloged to be added to the Library of Congress collection. Publishers that do not qualify for CIP can request a PCN (Pre-assigned Control Number), which is a placeholder only and does not contain the level of description that libraries need. More information is available on LC’s website: http://www.loc.gov/publish/cip/

 What is the advantage of having PCIP in your book?

PCIP is a value-added feature; a purchasing librarian will recognize that your title(s) can quickly be added to a library’s collection. Books without CIP/PCIP are often set aside to be cataloged later. This means that your title will not get onto the shelves and into readers’ hands as quickly as you’d like. Having the MARC record for your title already prepared and loaded into OCLC and SkyRiver means improved service to library users (and happier librarians). If you plan to sell your book (whether print, audio or ebook) to libraries, you need PCIP!

Where can publishers obtain PCIP and MARC records for their titles?

The Donohue Group, Inc. (DGI) is a library contract services firm based in Windsor, CT. We are a company founded, managed and staffed by professional librarians. DGI has served the library and publishing communities for more than 30 years, garnering a reputation for professionalism, creativity, and individualized attention to client needs. 

UPDATE MAY 2022: In the past New Shelves has recommended authors and publishers to The Donohue Group for all of their cataloging needs. However, The Donohue Group closed their doors in May 2022.

We now recommend authors reach out to Cassidy Cataloging Services: https://www.cassidycataloguing.com/.

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