5 Ways to Screw Up Your CIP Data


You’ve decided you need CIP data in your books. Now you may be wondering why you should pay a professional cataloger to construct your CIP data. “Can’t I do it myself,” you may ask, “and save a few bucks?” Here are five reasons why you should say “No, no, no!” to the do-it-yourself impulse:

  1. AACR2 & RDA. What do these acronyms stand for and why are they important? If you can’t answer the question, you lack the knowledge to properly construct CIP data.
  2. Subject Headings. What are they and how do you choose them? If you think the answer is “They’re phrases I make up out of thin air to describe my book,” then stop! Call a professional cataloger immediately.
  3. Call Numbers & Cutter Numbers. What purpose do they serve and how do you select them? No, a call number is not a phone number and a Cutter number has nothing to do with butchers. If you can’t explain the difference between the Dewey Decimal Classification and the Library Of Congress Classification, or an author Cutter and a title Cutter, under no circumstances should you construct your own CIP data.
  4. Authority Records. What are they and why should I care? Once again, if you can’t answer the question, you lack the knowledge to properly construct CIP data.
  5. The New CIP Format. If your response is “I didn’t know there was an old format,” or if the designations in the new format make no sense to you, don’t try to create your own CIP data. It must be formatted according to specific guidelines, which now correlate to MARC fields. So, if you have no idea what MARC fields are… Absolutely do not try to make your own CIP data!

If you don’t understand even one of the items above, you need a professional cataloger’s help. Having CIP data that is correct and accurate makes your books professional. Having CIP data that is improperly formed makes your books amateurish. When a librarian opens up your book, which impression do you want to give?

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