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It is an abbreviated version of the machine-readable cataloging (or MARC) record that resides in the Library's database and which is distributed to libraries and book vendors. The full MARC version contains additional information such as codes that indicate the language in which the book is written, the date when the book was cataloged, etc.

The CIP program was established thirty-six years ago to serve the nation's libraries by cataloging, in advance of publication, books widely acquired by the nation's libraries. If the CIP program can catalog these works early in their life cycle and can make the catalog records broadly available, many libraries can benefit. Instead of individual libraries cataloging the same work repeatedly, the work is cataloged once, and literally thousands of libraries -- school libraries in particular – can use the resulting record and can redirect resources consumed by cataloging these works to other uses.

The catalog records created by the program provide bibliographic control of books in libraries so readers can readily access the books that meet their needs. Because these bibliographic records are also distributed in machine-readable form prior to the book's publication, they also support acquisition, book selection, and book purchasing activities. Many booksellers and large libraries worldwide obtain these records via the Library's MARC Distribution Service and they in turn distribute them in various products and services that alert libraries, book stores, and readers to forthcoming titles. In many instances, these parties place orders for these titles. In this way CIP also serves as a marketing tool for publishers.

CIP cataloging is also used in other ways. Readers and librarians use the CIP data printed in books as a reference tool. The subject access points connect the reader to related subject areas.

The classification number (both the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification numbers) indicates the location of the book in hand as well as the location of other books on the same subject. This information is also useful for processing and routing books to appropriate staff when books are first received from the bookseller. And because the book arrives pre-cataloged, it is immediately available to the reader. Little additional processing is required.

The summaries contained in many CIP records also provide a brief and objective statement of the book's content, while also providing additional keyword searching when indexed by local library search engines. The summaries in CIP records for juvenile works are especially valuable for young readers. Many school librarians also use the CIP record to instruct students on how to access information. The CIP catalog record is in many cases the first bibliographic tool that youngsters encounter in an instructional setting.


The publisher submits a CIP data application with the accompanying text of the forthcoming (not yet published) book. CIP Division staff review the application. If it is complete and within scope for the program, an initial bibliographic record is created, a Library of Congress control number is assigned, and the work is forwarded to the appropriate cataloging team for descriptive cataloging, name authority work, subject analysis, LC classification, and Dewey Decimal classification. The completed work is returned to the CIP Division and a version of the catalog record (known as CIP data) is prepared and sent to the publisher. The publisher then prints the CIP data on the verso of the title page.

The CIP program strives to complete CIP processing within two weeks of receipt of the CIP application. This tight time frame is essential to the CIP process. Publishers submit applications when the elements of the book's identity (e.g., title, subtitle, and content) are not expected to change. But this circumstance does not usually occur until the book is well advanced in development and the print date established. If the CIP data is to be printed in the book, the CIP process must occur promptly. If the work is submitted too early, changes will be likely. If too late, the data will not be printed in the book. Publishers can submit change requests prior to the book's publication.

To request a change, the publisher completes a change request form, identifying the specific change requested and attaches a new title page and/or copyright page to evidence the change. Minor changes–e.g., ISBN corrections, proposed publication dates, typos--are made by CIP Publisher Liaisons in the CIP Division. Substantive changes that affect cataloging are forwarded to the cataloging teams.

As soon as the book is published, the publisher sends a copy to the CIP Division. Library staff then compare the book-in-hand with the bibliographic record. This process is known as CIP verification. If changes have occurred subsequent to the CIP cataloging process, the record is edited to reflect these changes. The most frequent changes occur to the title page--changes to the title, subtitle, series, author's name or form of the author's name. The imprint information may also be changed at this time--not because the name of the publisher or imprint has in fact changed but, most often, because the name of the imprint or publisher was presented on the accompanying text carelessly or in an abbreviated manner that did not reflect how this information is printed in the book. Pagination and size are always added at this time as this information is not available when the publisher originally requests the CIP data.

The CIP verification process cannot occur until the publisher sends a copy of the book to the Library immediately upon publication. Many publishers do this promptly, some do not, and some do not send the published book at all. Outstanding books must be claimed. This slows down the verification process and consumes staff resources. Because the CIP record is redistributed after verification occurs, many records are not redistributed in a timely manner. This suggests to some libraries that access the initial CIP record that some books are not yet published when in fact they have been.


When the CIP program was first established, it was a paper-based process. That is, the application forms were paper (four carbon leaves with pressure sensitive address labels), the galleys or manuscripts that accompanied the application were paper, and the complete package was submitted by U.S. Postal Service or, more often, by a commercial carrier such as FedEx or UPS.

In 1999, the Electronic CIP (ECIP) system was implemented. ECIP enabled the publisher to use the Internet to submit applications. The publisher first completed an online Application to Participate form. Upon submission, the form was reviewed by CIP staff. If the publisher was eligible, the publisher was sent an account number and password. This enabled the publisher to access the appropriate form to request CIP cataloging.

The ECIP Data Application form is much like its paper counterpart but includes some additional elements that facilitate processing. The publisher prepares the text file (containing, ideally, the full text, but often only front matter and sample chapters) in ASCII to attach to the application. Before attaching and submitting the file, the publisher adds some basic code to the file such as <tp> to indicate the beginning of the title page and </tp> to indicate the end of the title page. When the CIP application is received, CIP staff reviews it for completeness and eligibility. They also ensure that the text is coded correctly and accessible. This is done within a module of the ECIP system known as the Traffic Manager.

Acceptable applications are assigned a Library of Congress Control Number and then forwarded to the cataloging team with the appropriate expertise. Another ECIP system module, Text Capture and Electronic Conversion (TCEC), facilitates the descriptive part of the cataloging process. TCEC enables the cataloger to readily copy data elements from the title page, copyright page, table of contents and the application form into a structured catalog record. TCEC also adds some fixed data elements automatically. The subject cataloging and classification work follow.

When the cataloging is complete, the application is returned to the CIP Division, and CIP staff then email the completed data to the publisher.

The ECIP system has provided dramatic efficiencies. Postal costs were eliminated. Overall turnaround time has improved significantly. Labor-intensive handling and distribution tasks associated with the paper process were eliminated. Keying was substantially reduced. And all aspects of the program and its workflow are now more tightly controlled. Library staff and publishers can track titles in process.

Of equal importance, the ECIP system has facilitated record enhancement at virtually no cost. The TCEC module enables the cataloger to format the table of contents and move it into a 505 field with relatively little editing. Other automated applications add a link to an 856 field so longer table of contents notes are accessible via the hyperlink when the CIP record appears in an online system.

The ECIP system also led to the development of the Publisher Provided Summary program. Publishers participating in the ECIP program can provide summaries (adhering to CIP criteria) with the CIP Data Application form. Catalogers review these summaries, and if they adhere fully to CIP criteria for summaries (See Appendix B), they add them to the record via the TCEC module. Summaries that do not meet the criteria are deleted. Catalogers do not edit these summaries and publishers are not permitted to submit changes for these summaries. Publishers strive to apply the guidelines carefully because they know these summaries, when added to the catalog record, not only provide readers fuller information about the content of the work but also greater exposure for the title as the additional vocabulary in the summary is made available on the Internet for keyword searching.

A Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is a unique identification number assigned by the Library to the catalog record for each book it catalogs. This practice began in 1895 with the assignment of 98-1 to the collected works of Honoré de Balzac. LCCNs played an important role in facilitating the sale and distribution of catalog card sets to libraries. Publishers Weekly, Cumulative Book Index, and other book trade serials published them as a service to libraries who in turn used them when completing their card order slips. In 1951, Duell, Sloan and Pearce began to print the LCCN on the verso of the title page. J.P. Lippincott and others followed suit. This initiated the practice of “pre-assigning” blocks of LCCNs to publishers, a practice that continued into the 1970s when it was gradually replaced by individual pre-assignment of LCCNs by the Library, as the block approach had led to duplicate assignments.

While the Library no longer provides a card service, the LCCN continues to serve as a unique inventory number of the catalog record. Libraries and book dealers use the LCCN printed in the book to facilitate book processing, copy cataloging, acquisitions and other tasks. The PCN program also provides a valuable source of initial bibliographic records and books for the Library.

NOTE: A Library of Congress Control Number is different from a copyright registration number. The Cataloging in Publication (CIP) Division of the Library of Congress is responsible for assigning LC Control Numbers and is operationally separate from the Copyright Office. A book may be registered in or deposited with the Copyright Office but not necessarily cataloged and added to the Library's collections. For information about obtaining an LC Control Number, see the following website: For information on International Standard Book Numbering (ISBN), write to: ISBN, R.R. Bowker, 630 Central Ave., New Providence, NJ 07974. Call (877) 310-7333. For further information and to apply online, see For information on International Standard Serial Numbering (ISSN), write to: Library of Congress, National Serials Data Program, Serial Record Division, Washington, DC 20540-4160. Call (202) 707-6452. Or obtain information from