Does My Book Need PCIP?

Today, we have a guest poster, Pat McCurdy-Crescimanno, MLS, Manager, Business Development / Project Manager, Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication (PCIP) at The Donohue Group Inc. in Windsor, Connecticut.

Pat will discuss why you may want to get a prepublication library catalog record, PCIP, for your book before you publish it.

About Pat McCurdy-Crescimanno

I have been a professional librarian for more than 20 years, and have worked in libraries for even longer. My background includes reference, cataloging and management positions in public, academic, and special (non-profit) libraries, as well as free-lance work as a translator (my undergraduate degree is in Russian). For the past several years I have been Manager of Business Development for The Donohue Group, Inc., a library contract services company that specializes in cataloging and project management for libraries. One of DGI’s specialties is PCIP, or Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication. We work with hundreds of small and independent press clients and self-publishing authors to provide PCIP for their new titles.

(1) What are Library Cataloging, CIP and PCIP?

  • Cataloging is descriptive information about a book, using a set vocabulary, formatted according to national standards and created by a trained cataloger. When a book has CIP or PCIP, a cataloging block is usually found on the back of the title page.
  • CIP (Cataloging In Publication) is a cataloging block created by the Library of Congress. The CIP Program was established to enhance the services of publishers and librarians by providing bibliographic descriptions of published materials in a timely fashion.
  • PCIP (Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication) is a cataloging block created by a trained cataloger at the request of a publisher. CIP and PCIP are created using the same set of rules. The only difference is the agency which creates the cataloging.

[NOTE:A Catalog Record for My Book?” may hold the answer if you wonder why your book needs a catalog record to sell it to libraries. NKH]

(2) Who is PCIP for?

PCIP (Publisher’s Cataloging-In-Publication) is an option for all publishers who have not requested, or do not qualify for, CIP (Cataloging-in-Publication) from the Library of Congress. This includes self-publishing authors.

NKH: How do self-publishers get PCIP – do they have to have a publisher?

Anyone who intends to publish and distribute a book to libraries can apply for PCIP. A PCIP text block in your book ensures that a library of any size has access to a professionally-prepared catalog record that can be added to their local catalog.

(3) How can PCIP help?

A key book-marketing asset is the ability to successfully sell to the library market. The biggest advantage to having PCIP in your book is that librarians who are considering purchasing your title can get it onto the shelves and out to their readers quickly and easily, because the catalog record is already done.

Many presses and self-published authors are not aware that they can include cataloging information in their books on the verso (i.e., back) of the title page. CIP from the Library of Congress is one way to acquire cataloging information for a book. However, self-publishers and many smaller presses do not qualify for CIP. PCIP is an alternative way to get a catalog record for a book before the book is published.

(4) What is the process for getting PCIP and how does LCCN/PCN fit in?

Before publication of a book, the Library of Congress will, upon request, issue authors and publishers who do not qualify for its CIP program a PCN (Preassigned Control Number). This control number can be listed on the copyright page of your book, but it only serves as a “placeholder” in the Library of Congress catalog. If LC decides to acquire your book and add it to their collection, they then have a space set aside for it.

It can be confusing, because LCCN (Library of Congress Control Number) and PCN (Preassigned Control Number) are virtually the same thing, but are issued by LC to different types of publishers. Here’s a link to LC’s website with a more complete explanation:

LCCN/PCN is not required for obtaining a PCIP. If an author/publisher wants to apply for a PCN, they can apply on the Library of Congress website at no charge. As mentioned above, this number is a placeholder only and does not represent a full catalog record in the Library of Congress catalog.

DGI’s catalogers create a prepublication catalog record, PCIP, which conforms to all internationally-accepted cataloging rules, and contains both Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification numbers, as well as authorized Library of Congress subject headings. We deliver a Word-formatted document containing a block of text that can be inserted into the book’s copyright page.

(5) What are the advantages of PCIP?

PCIP is a value-added feature:

A purchasing librarian will recognize that your titles can be quickly added to a library’s collection. Books without CIP/PCIP are often set aside to be cataloged later. In today’s economic climate, with cataloging staff shrinking at many libraries, your book may sit on a back room shelf for weeks or months before getting cataloged. This means your title will not get onto the shelves and into reader’s hands as quickly as you’d like.

DGI’s PCIP service has a fast turnaround time:

DGI offers two levels of service: regular service (two-week turnaround), and rush service (three business day turnaround). Our rates are quite competitive, and we accept credit card payment via PayPal.

In these days of library staff shortages your title/titles will not get onto the shelves and into readers’ hands as quickly as they should. DGI has provided PCIP to nearly 400 authors/independent publishers in recent years, and we welcome more new clients every week.

PCIP creates an electronic record for your book:

In addition to a text block which can be inserted into the copyright page of your book, DGI supplies an electronic form of the catalog record, called a MARC (MAchine Readable Cataloging) record, to OCLC and SkyRiver. These are worldwide library databases used by thousands of member libraries. DGI is authorized to load PCIP records into both OCLC and SkyRiver. You may have heard of—this is the public catalog version of OCLC.

(6) Where does the electronic version of a PCIP go?

DGI does not supply records directly to book distributors, such as Ingram or Baker & Taylor. We have an arrangement with OCLC, a shared library cataloging clearinghouse used by most American libraries, to supply our MARC records directly to them. is the free database version of OCLC that is available online to the public to search for materials in libraries. We also provide these records to SkyRiver, another shared cataloging utility. In addition, DGI can deliver a copy of the MARC record to publishers/self-publishing authors for redistribution to their library customers.

(7) Please tell us more about The Donohue Group and your work there

The Donohue Group, Inc. is a library contract services firm with extensive experience in cataloging for both libraries and publishers. We are staffed with professional and paraprofessional librarians skilled in all aspects of cataloging. A woman-owned business established in CT in 1984, our small and energetic company has developed a reputation for professionalism, creativity and individualized attention to client needs. The diversity of our clientele has provided our staff with a wide variety of cataloging experience. We offer PCIP services to publishers of all sizes and types, with a special emphasis on small and independent press clients and self-publishing authors.

Here’s a link that describes our PCIP services in more depth. Our Web site also includes a handy online PCIP order form:

One of the best aspects of my job is the opportunity to work with authors and publishers as they prepare to publish and market their books. I’d be delighted to discuss our services in more detail with readers of this blog. You can contact me directly at for more information on how to add PCIP to your forthcoming books.

NKH: Thank you Pat! Would I consider PCIP for a version of my book when I get ready to sell it to libraries? You bet I would!

Want to prepare your book for selling to libraries? Get my guide, Marketing Your Book to Libraries: An Insider’s Guide for Authors , on sale now!


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