FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why get CIP data for my book? Will it help sales?

Can you provide MARC records?

Why isn’t the title in my CIP block capitalized?

Can I change the formatting and indentation in the CIP block you sent?

Can I change the subject headings in the CIP block?

Why do you have to know the author’s birth date to do the block?

Our book is going to the printer in a week. Can you do a rush CIP block?

Can I put “Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data” at the top of the CIP block you sent?

What is the difference between a PCN, a LCCN, and a CIP?

Do you follow the new RDA changes to cataloging?

Why get CIP data for my book? Will it help sales?

The purpose of CIP data is to provide information about a book to libraries and librarians in a format that they can easily enter into their online catalog. It is not necessarily a sales tool, although providing this data certainly can’t hurt. When the Library of Congress supplies CIP data (which, presumably, as a small press, independent publisher, or self-publisher, is not something you qualify for – see their statement on eligibility for details), titles are also compiled into a list that’s distributed to large libraries, bibliographic services, and other organizations, Being on this list most probably would have some impact on sales. However, my service can not get you on that list. CIP data in a book is primarily a courtesy to librarians. I also happen to think it makes a book look more professional. But helping sales? Not a claim I’m willing to make.

Can you provide MARC records?

A MARC record is CIP data coded in a machine-readable format. This data is uploaded directly into a library catalog and is commonly purchased along with a book when said book is purchased by a library.

I cannot provide MARC records at this time. I looked into it extensively a while back and finally decided against it, largely because I concluded that they’re an unnecessary thing for a small publisher to provide.

Here’s why: if your book has any kind of distribution through any company that deals with libraries (Ingram, Baker and Taylor, Follett, Mackin – to name but a few) – those book jobbers will automatically create a MARC record for your book once an order for said book (and said MARC record) is placed. So for the publisher to have it created is overkill. The benefit to the publisher would be that the MARC record would be uploaded to WorldCat, which is a union catalog of most of the books/media in the world, but as soon as a participating library buys your book it will be uploaded anyway.

So the answer is no – not from me.

Why isn’t the title in my CIP block capitalized?

Because I don’t know capitalization rules! Ha – just kidding. I really do know that book titles are typically capitalized. But in the strange world of libraries and cataloging, only the first letter of the book’s title within the CIP block is capitalized, along with any proper nouns. It’s just how it is. It has to do with filing the cards that librarians of yore used to type up. Thank goodness we don’t do that any more – but the rule remains.

And a note (fall, 2015), the capitalization rule is now up to the individual cataloger. Per the RDA changes for CIP data (active July, 2015), the RDA rules allow for capitalization as it appears but convention still dictates a non-capitalized title.

Can I change the formatting and indentation in the CIP block you sent?

Yes, and no. Kind of. The purpose of the block is to give information to librarians in a format they understand. This is why all the weird grammar and lack of title capitalization (see the question immediately preceding this one). I send it to you the way it would look should it be printed out and typed on a card for the card catalog…but no one uses the card catalog any more.

So – bottom line – try to use it like I sent it. The grammar and capitalization – but the font isn’t, and if you want to center it, be my guest. The important thing is the information IN the block – don’t mess with that!

Can I change the subject headings in the CIP block?

No. Nope. Please don’t. People try to tell me all the time that the subject headings I chose for their blocks are weird and not the way regular people would describe their books. They want me to use more intuitive language to assign subject headings. Sometimes the subject headings I pick out sound archaic. They worry that the subject headings won’t help sell the book…

Here’s the thing: I can only use the subject headings that exist in library catalogs. I can’t make stuff up, or use different words, or use words that people use today (vs. words that people used 50 years ago). I have to stick to the rules. Because of that, sometimes subject headings sound a little strange. But they can’t be changed so they sound more “normal.”

That said, if you think I completely missed the boat when I assigned the subject headings to your book – e-mail me and tell me so! The block that I send can be considered a first draft of sorts – I send what I think is a final copy, but it’s always open for discussion. I will say as much in the e-mail I send when I do the block. I may also ask you for clarification or even schooling on a subject. There are some things I know a LOT about, but there are many things I know very LITTLE about. This is the most interesting thing about creating CIP data, by the way: learning things about which I’d previously known very little.

Why do you have to know the author’s birth date to do the block?

A birth date is one piece of data that distinguishes one author from another with the same name. When I search the Library of Congress online catalog for the author’s name, I need to make sure that he/she are separate from anyone else who has the same name. If the author has written other titles, I need to make sure he/she matches up with what’s already on file.

If you or the author prefers I don’t use their birth date on a CIP block please let me know. Many times I can use a middle name or initial. But I need that information on the original application so I can conduct my searches as thoroughly as possible.

Our book is going to the printer in a week.Can you do a rush CIP block?

Sure. My typical turnaround time for a CIP block is about 2 days, but if you need it quicker than that just let me know and I’ll put your block at the head of the line.  I don’t even charge extra for it!

Can I put “Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data” at the top of the CIP block you sent?

No. The Library of Congress did not supply your Cataloging-in-Publication data, I did. So you must title it the way I sent it to you:” Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication data.”

What is the difference between a PCN, a LCCN, a PCIP, and a CIP?

Here are the definitions of the acronyms:

PCN=Preassigned Control Number

LCCN=Library of Congress Control Number

PCIP= Publisher’s Cataloging in Publication data

CIP=Cataloging in Publication data

Both the PCN and the LCCN are numbers assigned by the Library of Congress to each and every book or other piece of media published. The PCN is assigned when a publisher applies for it independently of the Library of Congress’s CIP program; the LCCN is assigned when a book or other piece of media is being cataloged through the Library of Congress’s CIP program. Both numbers are assigned using the same criteria – they are simply accession numbers used to differentiate items in the database.

A PCN is not the same as CIP or PCIP. A PCN (or LCCN) is a number. CIP data is a block of information that describes the entire book.

Now, if your books/media qualifies for the Library of Congress to create your CIP data, you would automatically be assigned a LCCN.

But presumably you don’t, since you’re reading about my service, which is for independent publishers, self-publishers, and small presses that don’t meet their requirements. In that case, you will apply for a PCN and send it to me once you’ve gotten it. It’s free, and it takes a lot less time than the LoC states it will take on their website, by the way.

The Library of Congress has an excellent F.A.Q. on all these abbreviations on their website, by the way.

Do you follow the new RDA rules of cataloging?

Yes! As of 11/1/15 I am providing CIP blocks using the RDA rules. Please see the EXAMPLE page for more details.