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Understanding the Library of Congress PrePub Book Link

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by Caroline Saccucci, Section Head, CIP and Dewey Section, Library of Congress —

Caroline Saccucci

Q: What is the Library of Congress PrePub Book Link? Am I eligible to apply? (answer by Caroline Saccucci)

Many independent publishers are familiar with the Library of Congress Preassigned Control Number (PCN) Program, the purpose of which is to enable the Library of Congress to assign control numbers in advance of publication to those titles that may be added to the Library’s permanent collections. A Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN) is a unique identification number that the Library of Congress assigns to the catalog record created for each book in its cataloged collections. The LCCN appears on the copyright pages of books in this format: Library of Congress Control Number: 2019901234.

Librarians use it to locate a specific Library of Congress catalog record or in the national databases. Publishers send a copy of the book to the Library, although not every book will be selected for the Library of Congress collections.

Publishers who have been participating in the PCN Program for a while now may remember the Online PCN System used to submit requests for a preassigned LCCN. This aging platform launched in 2003 to replace the paper process started in the 1970s. The overall look and feel was dated, and the functionality was limited. Finally, in September 2017, the Library spent considerable resources to develop a completely redesigned request database. This new online tool, called PrePub Book Link (PPBL), launched in May 2019. PPBL is a completely custom database built on a ServiceNow platform and hosted in the cloud. A team of in-house and contract staff designed and developed the platform, which now provides an array of enhanced functionality and features for publishers and PCN Program staff.

PrePub Book Link has an entirely new look and feel designed to be both user-friendly and more attractive. After users log in, they see a photograph of the beautiful ceiling in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building surrounded by links to new functionality.

PrePub Book Link allows publishers to see all outstanding LCCN Requests by title and primary ISBN in the “My Requests” link at the top of the screen. Here publishers can view the status of LCCN Requests and make change requests for a particular title. Speaking of change requests, PPBL has streamlined that process and made it much more user friendly.

One of the most obvious enhancements with PrePub Book Link is the ability for users to reset their own passwords. Users will no longer need to rely on the publisher liaison for password resets. Not only that, there are no longer shared accounts. Publishers will be able to administer their own publisher accounts in the “My Accounts” link. Everyone working on behalf of a publisher will have an individual account. A publisher can utilize the “Users” link to add additional users to a publisher account, for instance, if they work for a company that submits LCCN requests on behalf of a different publisher.

The LCCN Request and the Change Request forms have a fresh new look with functionality built in to make the process smoother for the publisher and Library staff. Each LCCN Request generates a bibliographic record in the Library catalog, although not all are searchable in the online catalog at catalog.loc.gov for various technical reasons. The functionality inherent in PrePub Book Link makes the creation of that bibliographic record both easier and more complete. Publishers are encouraged to include a summary of the forthcoming book’s contents, which will assist the cataloger with subject analysis. Publishers now have the option to attach a title page in PDF format as part of the LCCN Request for the forthcoming book.

For publishers that have met the threshold for acceptance into the Cataloging in Publication (CIP) Program, PrePub Book Link includes a simpler user interface. In the past, a publisher would need to apply for a new account, and many publishers had both a CIP and PCN account. With PPBL, every new publisher account is approved as a PCN publisher with the option to apply for the CIP Program. The Apply to CIP functionality is a simple form that asks for the information about three different published books, but the user does not need to submit a new account request. As a reminder, participation in the CIP Program is dependent on a publisher having three different books by three different authors held by at least 1,000 libraries across the United States; Library staff search in WorldCat to determine eligibility.

The legacy Online PCN System had a large number of publisher accounts, many of which were effectively obsolete. In many cases, the publishers had ceased operations, or publishers had not maintained the accounts to keep them updated. Many publisher accounts were established, but the publisher applied just for one LCCN. To start with a clean state in PrePub Book Link, Library staff decided not to migrate PCN accounts to PPBL. Since PBBL went live in May 2019, over 2,000 publishers have established new accounts, and these publishers have submitted over 18,000 LCCN Requests.

PPBL introduced a portal just for authors/self-publishers. This group represented many of those one-time-only LCCN requests from the previous system. This account type has a streamlined user experience. These users do not undergo an account approval process, which means that they can immediately submit LCCN Requests. The Author/Self-Publisher Portal does not include the Apply to CIP functionality, but it still has My Requests with the ability to submit change requests. This portal has been extremely popular; since May 2019, this group of users has created over 4,000 accounts and submitted almost 5,000 LCCN Requests.

The PCN Program is a primary method for the Library to build its collection of monographs published in the United States. Publishers who request LCCNs are obligated to send a copy to the Library upon publication. In the past, some publishers never sent those books, and the Library did not have an easy mechanism to remind those publishers. PrePub Book Link includes functionality that reminds the publisher to send the published book. This will help the publisher meet its obligations while potentially increasing the collections.

The future of the PCN Program looks very bright at the Library of Congress with PrePub Book Link. Using the latest technology, the PCN Program is poised to stay current with the publishing world.

For more information about PrePub Book Link, visit loc.gov/publish/prepubbooklink.

Caroline Saccucci is the program manager and section head of the Cataloging in Publication (CIP) and Dewey Section in the U.S. Programs, Law, and Literature Division, Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate, Library of Congress.

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