Please explain summaries in Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
February 3, 2005 5:01 PM   Subscribe

I have always enjoyed reading the summaries that often appear in the Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data (the small type at the beginning of the book that includes the date of publication, etc.) of books for young people. Just because they're amusing, I'll provide an example:

Poinsettia and the Firefighters by Felicia Bond
Summary: Poinsettia the Pig feels lonely and afraid of the dark until she learns that there is someone else awake and keeping watch all night: the fire fighters.

Why are these summaries there? Why don't books for adults have them?
posted by bubukaba to Writing & Language (3 answers total)
I am not a cataloger, but in my dim memory of cataloging class, I seem to remember that the publishers themselves submit some amount of the cataloging in publication data to LOC. I'm guessing that the children's book publishers submit the summaries to aid parents/teachers who are selecting the books for their kids.
posted by gnat at 5:58 PM on February 3, 2005

I work for a publisher of kids' books. (I'm relatively new to the company, though.) Most of our stuff has been textbooks, but we just started some historical nonfiction.

We submitted our data to a cataloging company, Quality Books, although the Library of Congress also does it. I believe that although we provided them with different data, like the author's name, birth year, and other info, they did the Cataloging-in-Publication Data and wrote the summary themselves. They then sent it to us and said "put this in the front of your book. Don't touch it." That led to an Ask MeFi question of my own about CiP formatting. Anyway, to answer your question, I believe that the summary is put in there to aid librarians and buyers as they consider purchasing the book. I think it goes into a listing of newly-available books that is distributed to librarians, and the summary helps librarians decide whether they want it or not. Adult books tend, I think, to have reviews, or quotes, or other press, and libraries use that as they evaluate whether to get certain books or not.

But I'm new to this whole publishing gig, and I could be way off. Somebody correct me.

In other news, if any official MeFibrarians get in touch with me, I'll send you a free copy of those historical nonfictions when they get back from the printer.
posted by Alt F4 at 6:30 PM on February 3, 2005

When I was teaching, I'd sometimes have to go mining for dozens of books on a single topic. Children's book titles can be pretty cryptic (something by the name of Poinsettia and the Firefighters doesn't jump out at you if you're looking for books on pigs). So these one-line summaries, which I often found in librarian's book lists, were very helpful.
posted by Miko at 6:58 AM on February 4, 2005

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