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With the extensive amount of material available in libraries, librarians need a system for recording the titles they have. This system, known as the library catalog, helps them make this information available to their patrons. 

Librarians once relied only on the Dewey Decimal System to record and categorize the author’s name, the book title, and the topic(s) covered in the book. When computer catalogs came in, it made it easier to search for book titles with the click of a button. But new cataloging systems have made things even easier.

Cataloging is crucial for the library staff and patrons to have quick access to all the materials that they have. The more complete and detailed the catalog, the more use the collection receives, and the library patrons end up more satisfied with their library experience. 

Library Cataloging

A catalog is a collection of information about written resources with a set vocabulary and standardized formatting. For libraries, they are created by a trained cataloger, and an item that has been catalogued has a cataloging block on the back of its title page. 

This makes it easy for librarians to quickly add any title to their collection with the correct subject headings and classification numbers.

The two most common cataloging blocks are: 

  • CIP (Cataloging In Publication): The Library of Congress created the CIP Program to improve the services of librarians and publishers by providing the bibliographic details of published materials as soon as possible. 
  • PCIP (Publisher’s Cataloging-in-Publication): A trained cataloger creates the PCIP at a publisher’s request. 

Both are systems for cataloging the copyright pages of books. They also follow the same rules, the only difference being the agency that creates the cataloging. Since the CIP is issued by the Library of Congress, publishers who do not qualify for the CIP can opt for the PCIP. 

The CIP/PCIP block will normally include the following information: 

  • The author, book title, edition, and other relevant description of the print material
  • ISBN
  • An optional Preassigned Control Number (PCN) from the Library of Congress
  • The subject terms from the Library of Congress for easy search functions using common descriptive terms 
  • The name terms authorized by the Library of Congress 
  • Classification numbers for Library of Congress and Dewey Decimal 

What Items Need a PCIP?

When a library acquires any published material, that material requires a PCIP. This includes the following: 

  • Print books
  • Print documents
  • ebooks
  • Audiobooks
  • Audio files
  • DVDs
  • Video files 

Why You Should Consider Getting a PCIP

The PCIP can be a key tool for book marketing. In order to market your book to the widest possible audience, you must be able to sell to the library market.

If you are an author, you need to make things as easy as possible for libraries to carry your books. One way of doing this is to make sure you have the necessary cataloging information in place. This applies to authors who publish through a publisher or who opt to self-publish. 

A PCIP adds professionalism and value to your work, as it makes it easy for the purchasing librarian to quickly add your title into the library’s collection. If your book doesn’t have a CIP or PCIP, the librarian will usually set it off to the side, as it will require manual cataloging. 

If your book is set aside, you won’t know when your book will make it onto the shelves and into the hands of readers. This is especially difficult during times when libraries are short-staffed, which they are as a result of the 2020 coronavirus crisis. 

You may be able to sell your book to smaller libraries that accept books without a catalog record. What happens, though, is that they normally keep the non-catalogued items separate from the ones with catalog records. This means that not all the librarians on duty might even know where your book is at any given time! 

On the other hand, if you have the right cataloging information in place, librarians can easily get your book straight to the shelves as soon as possible, and also easily access it for interested readers. 

How important is it to get your book into the hands of library patrons? Library Journal did a study and found that “over 50% of all library users report purchasing books by an author they were introduced to in the library.”

Rebecca Miller, executive editor of Library Journal, goes on to say, “This debunks the myth that when a library buys a book the publisher loses future sales. Instead, it confirms that the public library does not only incubate and support literacy, as is well understood in our culture, but it is an active partner with the publishing industry in building the book market, not to mention the burgeoning e-book market.” 

How Do You Get a PCIP? 

You can apply for a PCIP from companies that provide cataloging services. In order to request your PCIP, you need to provide the following: 

  • A copy of the title page and copyright page of your book
  • Name(s) of the author(s), editor(s), illustrator(s) and other relevant creators behind your book
  • The ISBN for both your print book and ebook, if applicable 
  •  A description of your book’s subject

Some companies that offer PCIP services include: 

The Donohue Group, Inc.

A library contract services firm founded in 1984, The Donohue Group has extensive experience cataloging for both publishers and libraries. 

In addition to the PCIP text block that goes into your copyright page, the company also gives you a digital MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging) record which they send to worldwide library databases. 

Regular turnaround time takes two weeks, but the rush option can get your PCIP in three days. Donohue also offers discounted Bundle Pricing for print and ebook sets. 

Cassidy Cataloguing Services

Cassidy Cataloguing Services has been providing PCIPs for books since 1996. They also upload your records to online catalogs at no additional charge. 

Estimated turnaround time is one week. 

Parlew Associates

Parlew Associates offers various support services for authors and publishers, including the acquisition of a PCIP. They offer discounts for bulk orders by the same author or publisher for multiple titles. 

Five Rainbows Cataloging Services

Five Rainbows Cataloging Services allows you to choose your preferred delivery date, at a minimum of five business days lead time. 

Why Authors Need a PCIP

Every aspiring author should consider the library market an essential base for marketing their books. Even if you’re a self-published author, you can learn how to get your books into bookstores and libraries.

One of the best ways to appeal to libraries is by making it easy for librarians to stock and record your book. If you don’t have a PCIP for your book yet, consider taking the plunge and contacting one of the companies in this post.

Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below! 


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