LCCN: How to Get Your Book into U.S. Libraries in 5 Simple Steps
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
I'll admit that I am late to the whole Library of Congress Control Number ( "LCCN") thing. My first two books published without them. Even after a peer indie author suggested I get an LCCN, I still neglected to do so. But after I realized how easy the process was (and free), I have started requesting LCCNs and I am not turning back.
So, let's talk LCCNs.
First, what is an LCCN. LCCN is a number the Library of Congress ("LOC") assigns to titles it may acquire. The LCCN creates a catalogue record of your book in the LOC. The LOC is the nation's library AND the largest library in the world.
An LCCN should not be mistaken for a copyright. LCCNs and copyrights are both at loc.gov, but that is where their similarity ends. LCCN does not copyright your book or protect your work in any way. (see copyrights blog post here for more information on copyrights)
Similarly, LCCNs and ISBNs are not the same or in any way related. (see ISBN blog post here for more information on ISBNs)
In fact, LCCNs are not even necessary, especially if you only plan to sell online, in stores or in person.
So, you may be wondering, if an LCCN does not protect my book and is not necessary for the publication, sell or distribution of my book, then why bother. Because the major benefit to getting an LCCN is that the LCCN is a tool used by school libraries, libraries in general, and educational institutions to locate your book. If the libraries and educational institutions can find your book, then it makes it easier for them to add your book to their collections. While having an LCCN is not the end-all-be-all to getting into local libraries, it definitely helps and as indie authors, we need all the help we can get.
Second, acquiring an LCCN is free! Not much in the self-publishing world is free, so let's take advantage when we can. All you have to do is:
👉🏽Set up a PrePub Book Link account at https://loc.gov/publish/prepubbooklink/,
👉🏽Click on the Request an LCCN tab, and
👉🏽Enter all the requested information. (tip: have your ISBN handy)
☝🏽 YOU CAN ONLY REQUEST AN LCCN BEFORE PUBLICATION. I usually request the LCCN as soon as I have assigned my title to an ISBN so I do not forget.
☝🏽Your title will be assigned an LCCN within one to two weeks after your request submission.
👉🏽Add the LCCN to your copyright page just like you do with your ISBN before you publish.
👉🏽Last, mail a copy of your book AFTER PUBLICATION to the LOC for cataloguing.
Voila! You're in the nation's library! How cool is that! If only for a short while,(there's no guarantee you will stay in their catalogue indefinitely), it is still pretty cool!