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 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 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


  • 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.


  • 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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  1. LD Thompson

    Hi – thank you for taking the time and care to put together this blog post. It is immensely helpful. I did wind up with a follow up question. The rights to a book I wrote have reverted to me and I’m about to publish it through a boutique publishing house that I have started (I other books lined up to publish as well). But first, I need to get this first book back on Kindle. It seems as if I don’t need an LOC number for the eBook but will need such if I plan to print another run of the hard copy. Any idea if I can get the number and use it for the ‘front matter’ of the eBook so that I don’t have to go through the process of editing that page twice? I hope my question is understandable.

    • eliteonlinepublishing

      Correct, you don’t need one for the eBook. But if you want to add it to the copyright page, you can. Usually when you apply for a LOC number, it takes awhile for approval. In that case you can add to the copyright page – Library of Congress : Cataloging in Publication Data. A Cataloging in Publication record (aka CIP data) is a bibliographic record prepared by the Library of Congress for a book that has not yet been published. When the book is published, the publisher includes the CIP data on the copyright page thereby facilitating book processing for libraries and book dealers. To learn more see here:

  2. Sharon K Connell

    I was under the impression that all I needed as an independent author was an ISBN number, of which I have for all 11 of my books, and a copyright. How do I apply for an LOC number for each of my books now that they have already been published? And did this keep my books from being in libraries?

    • eliteonlinepublishing

      All you need is ISBN number and that gives libraries and bookstores option to buy your books. It is optional to apply for the library of congress number. Once it is published you cannot register with LOC. You have to request the LOC number before the book is published.

  3. Stephanie

    If I submitted the English version of my book for a LOC number and I decide to also publish my book in Spanish, do I also need to apply for an LCCN for the Spanish-translated version of my book?

    • eliteonlinepublishing

      Yes, if you want your Spanish book to be in the LOC then you will need to apply for that ISBN number to have an LCCN.

  4. Pamela Johnson

    Thank you so much for this blog post. I have been working with a publisher, but they want to charge me $1499 for an LCCN and PNC number. Is that standard practice? I applied for an LCCN as an individual, but I am unsure if there is anything else I need to do. Thank you, Pam

    • eliteonlinepublishing

      Many publishers charge for the LCCN and PNC numbers. If you applied as an individual for the LCCN then you don’t need them to do it for you. You only need to register the ISBN number with the LCCN once. That is all you have to do and then you just wait. Not all books are accepted into the LCCN and it is ok if your book isn’t selected. It is still protected with the copyright page of the book.

  5. Tom Polachek

    So I’m self publishing an ebook. I have the copyright and the ISBN. At some point in the future if I wanted to make a hard copy version could I apply for a LCCN then or do I have to do it now? I would have to get a separate ISBN for a hard copy

    • eliteonlinepublishing

      You don’t really need a LCCN, but you can apply if you want to. and Yes you need a ISBN for each format of your book. One for the ebook, One for the paperback and one for the hard cover.


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