Do I need a Library of Congress Control Number for my Book? What is a LCCN?

November 9, 2020

You may be asking, “Do I need a Library of Congress Control Number for my Book? ” and “What is a LCCN?” 

The answer: yes and no. Or, even, “It depends.”

Yes, if you. want your book to be cataloged in the largest library, then you need an LCCN number.

NO, if you want to sell books online,  in book stores and libraries, an ISBN number is required.  But an LCCN is not required.

If you do apply for an LCCN, you will need to ship a copy of your book to the Library of Congress to show that It has been published. With over 164-million titles on hand, the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world.

Here’s the Problem

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee the Library of Congress will actually keep your titles in their system indefinitely. Fortunately, once accepted into local libraries, your books are likely to remain there. A quick search of worldcat.org will reveal if your book is in the library systems. Those represent actual sales to libraries, unlike the copies “gifted” to the Library of Congress.

How to Get Your LCCN Number

The LCCN number (Library of Congress Control Number aka Library of Congress Card Number). This is a number assigned to the Library Of Congress bibliographic record of your book. The LCCN number differs from the ISBN number in that an ISBN is assigned to each edition or format of your book while the Library of Congress number is assigned to the work itself.

This is a two-step process and can take anywhere from one to two weeks to complete. To start the LCCN application process, go to http://www.loc.gov/publish/pcn/ The Pre-assigned Control Number program assigns the LCCN number. This is a free service, but you must mail a published copy of your book to the Library of Congress. Audiobooks and eBooks are not eligible for the LCCN assignment. The LCCN does not copyright your book.

Read Below about how to register from the LOC website: 

Application Process

Pre-publication

  • Participating publishers submit via PrePub Book Link
      • A completed CIP Request
      • The full text or, at minimum, core required materials to the Library of Congress for each eligible title
  • The CIP Program staff member
      • Reviews the application and text for completeness and eligibility
      • Assigns a Library of Congress Control Number
      • Forwards the application to the appropriate cataloging section
  • The cataloger
    • Completes the descriptive cataloging
    • Assigns subject headings
    • Assigns full Library of Congress Classification and Dewey Decimal Classification
  • The publisher receives the completed CIP data and prints it on the copyright page of the published book.
  • Concurrently, a machine-readable version of the record is distributed to large libraries, bibliographic utilities, and book vendors around the world.

Post-publication

  • The publisher sends a complimentary copy of the published book to the CIP Program. These books are subject to claiming.
  • Upon receipt of the book, a Library staff member
    • Adds other data elements to the catalog record (such as pagination and size)
    • Ensures that the data elements in the record accurately describe the published work. There may be changes in title, subtitle, series, author, or subject.
  • After verification, the machine-readable version of the record is redistributed.

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