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I'm going to submit a request for a Library of Congress Preassigned Control Number (PCN). One of the questions on the form is:

Is this title intended for children or young adults?

Because of the "or", I assume the book doesn't have to be appropriate for both children and young adults.

My answer would be obvious if the field were phrased as "acceptable for" or "intended primarily for". Unfortunately, I'm unsure whether "intended for" means the title is:

  1. for members of this audience and other audiences
  2. only for members of this audience

(To illustrate usage #1, consider the sentence, "Is exercise intended for children or young adults?" It is; to say "Exercise is not intended for children or young adults" would be false.)

I wrote the novel for general audiences and never even considered the possibility of YA readers. But one of my beta readers, who teaches middle-school English, assumed it was intended for YA readers of roughly 14+.

So if #1 is the right interpretation, I think that applies to my book. But if it's #2, the answer is absolutely "no" since I didn't write it primarily with young adults in mind.

To be clear: I'm not asking about the meaning of the word "intend", or for interpretations of the form by laypeople like me.

I'm hoping that someone with working knowledge can tell me the best answer for this entry field—based on the way that librarians, teachers, or others actually use this information. If you have working knowledge, please mention that in your answer for added weight. Thanks!

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    Taking your assessment of your work at face value, there is barely any crossover between your story and this library classification. Imagine a Venn diagram. Does your book fit inside the circle marked "Intended for children under 15"? No, at best you say a few older teens at the edge of this category are appropriate. – wetcircuit Dec 31 '18 at 16:21
  • @wetcircuit Thanks for the comment. Your Venn diagram suggestion gets at my question exactly--but I see that I didn't explain the question well enough. I'm asking for help interpreting the phrase "intended for." I've updated my question to clarify this. – Andy Giesler Dec 31 '18 at 20:10
  • Hi, Andy. I updated my answer a bit to mention how the information gets used by external parties, but basically, it just makes searching and categorization easier. – Dan Jan 9 at 1:39
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Because of the "or", I assume the book doesn't have to be appropriate for both children and young adults.

Correct.

The Library of Congress first lumps things into two big groups based on whether it's appropriate for anyone of any age up to and including high school, and that's what they're asking you here. Later on, they will sub-categorize the work further (see this page), but you don't have to worry about that here.

All the form is asking you is whether the work's primary audience is adults or sub-adults. The intital concern is identifying material that isn't appropriate for younger age groups, so that an elementary school library doesn't end up with 50 Shades of Gray.

(Another way to read the question would be: "Did you write this book intending it to be read by people who haven't reached adulthood yet?")

As for how this information is used by interested parties, it's really just there to help them find what they may be looking for, or know at a glance what they're looking at. Different institutions/educators/etc. use it in different ways at different times depending on their needs. It's simply meant to facilitate searching and categorization.

Besides, your response isn't set down in stone. What if someone mistakenly answered the question incorrectly, or the reviewers simply don't agree with your classification? So don't stress. Whatever you decide to answer here won't cause drastic, irreparable consequences.

  • I eventually found the Library of Congress "Ask a Librarian" service, which eventually redirected me to an email address for the CIP program. I'm accepting your answer as the one that most closely matches their reply. – Andy Giesler Jan 25 at 21:06
  • @AndyGiesler Thank you. I'm glad you were able to get an answer directly from them. – Dan Jan 25 at 21:18
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Quoting your quote:

In addition to regular Library of Congress cataloging treatment, juvenile titles receive summaries. The summaries are used by children’s librarians and teachers in selecting materials for classroom use and by young library patrons. Special subject headings are also provided for use in children’s library catalogs.

If you want those things done in the LOC system for your book, answer yes. If you don't want that, answer no. Since those are the only consequences to your answer to the question, that's all you really have to consider.

  • Thanks Todd. People seem to vary (strongly) in their interpretation of this, so I'm wondering whether someone with working knowledge can verify how this information is actually used by librarians, teachers, and others. I've further emphasized that in the question. Are you a "consumer" of this information? If so, please let me know. – Andy Giesler Jan 1 at 16:33
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(This answer was written during the first iteration of the question. The author's changes invalidate much of my answer. My conclusion stands: this is not a juvenile book, but I could only base it on the information the author provided at the time. I leave it as is as because it still applies to the general question asked, even if the details have changed.)

This is not a juvenile book.

Most non-fiction and a large number of fiction books geared for adults are appropriate for teens. Would you call Jane Austen's novels juvenile fiction simply because they're completely appropriate for the young adult market? Would you classify farming manuals as kids' books because there's nothing in there a child shouldn't read?

Then you say "My book is appropriate for some young adults (around 14 and up)." If your book is such that it would be inappropriate for most (or even some) teenagers, then it's definitely not aimed at the young adult market.

I hear you that you would love the extra summaries and other marketing that a juvenile book listing provides, but that's not a reason to misclassify your book.

Based on what you're saying, your book would not even qualify as a teen book (even if some teens can read it and might even enjoy it). But here the qualification is that the book is for children 15 and under, which isn't even most teens.

So, no, don't try to circumvent the system. Find other ways to market.

  • Thanks for your answer. I've reworded my question for clarity: I'm asking whether this field means "intended for this audience (among others)" or "intended for this audience (alone)". It sounds like your understanding is "alone". My question is only asking for people's help with interpretation, not for a way to game the system. I've worked with information management for decades, and correct classification means a lot to me. I want to represent my book accurately. Intentionally fudging metadata for marketing purposes would be crass--which I try hard not to be. :-) – Andy Giesler Dec 31 '18 at 20:43
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    I was seeing it as meaning "intended for this audience primarily." Which your work is not. It was hard to tell your intention from your question (I don't know you or your background of course). The whole reason though to have questions up on a public site is for the benefit not just of the questioner but anyone who finds it. So I wanted to be clear for any reader. My intention was not to accuse you. – Cyn Dec 31 '18 at 20:46
  • +1 Thanks again, Cyn. Your "primarily" phrasing helped clarify something for me. The phrase "intended for" might mean "intended primarily for" or "acceptable for." (I've added a brief example of the latter.) So my request isn't for help with word usage, or for layperson interpretations of the form. I'm asking whether someone with working knowledge can answer based on how people actually use this information. That request was present in the updated question, but I've further emphasized it for clarity. And if you have working knowledge, please let me know! – Andy Giesler Jan 1 at 16:31
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When you wrote your book, did you write it specifically for readers younger than 15? Is your target audience children? Did you intend to write for children?

If yes, yes. If no, no.

  • Thanks for your answer. I can see that my question wasn't worded well. I've updated it to get more clearly at the help I need. Based on your answer, is it your understanding that this information is used in way #2 n my question -- that people should only answer "yes" if the book was written exclusively with children or young adult readers in mind? – Andy Giesler Dec 31 '18 at 20:07
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    @AndyGiesler Your edit doesn't change my answer. Is English your mother tongue? To me the meaning of the word "intend" is pretty clear. Did you write your book for kids under 15 or not? You say you didn't, and you say your beta reader thought it was for juveniles 14+. Both isn't "intended for under 15". So the answer to your question remains a clear and resounding "no". – user34178 Dec 31 '18 at 22:52
  • Unfortunately, "intend" is ambiguous. Consider the sentence, "Is exercise intended for children or young adults?" It is, but not only for children and young adults. To say "Exercise is not intended for children or young adults" would be false. So I'm not looking for help with word use, or for layperson interpretation. I'm hoping someone with working knowledge can tell me how this information is actually used by librarians, teachers, and others. If you're a consumer of this LOC information, please let me know since it will add weight to your answer. Thanks! – Andy Giesler Jan 1 at 16:44
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    @AndyGiesler Just contact LOC support and ask them. – user34178 Jan 1 at 17:40

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