Format Facets in the Library Catalog

You might have noticed that the library catalog has recently changed how it labels item formats in the format facets on the right side of the search results. Instead of just saying “Music Recording” or “Film/Video”, it now tries to indicate the specific format like “CD” or LP”.


Unfortunately, these new facets aren’t 100% accurate. We have many more than 12 CDs of Brahms symphonies, but for some reason the facet isn’t picking those up. So don’t just rely on the smaller facets–make sure to check the “Music Recording” results if you’re not finding what you need.

Also, don’t forget that you can include information like a performer or ensemble’s name, the record label or publisher’s name to improve your search.

As always, if you have questions or want to make sure you’re doing the best searches possible, contact us or come to the reference desk for help!

Narrowing Searches in Library Catalog

Searching for items in the MPAL catalog can result in a ton of hits – which can sometimes be daunting. For example, a simple search for “Brahms Symphonies” results in nearly 500 items. But what if you are looking for something specific – like a score to the second symphony or a recording conducted by Leonard Bernstein? Narrowing your search on the right hand column can help you quickly find what you are looking for.

One way to narrow your search is by Format, meaning the catalogue will limit your search to the type of item you would like. Some formats include:

Music Recording
Music Score
Electronic (online materials)
Film or Video


The Location option lets you know which libraries have items relating to your search. You can limit your search to only materials located in the Music and Performing Arts Library collection. Before narrowing your search this way, keep in mind that both the Main Stacks and the Undergraduate Library have some resources relevant to music topics.


The Author option can limit your searches by:
Author (book)

This section can sometimes be quite lengthy, so if you are looking for a specific performer or conductor it would be best to include their name in your initial search.

The Topic section helps you find resources about what you searched for. This tool finds other resources (books, recordings, etc) that relate to your search and can be very helpful – especially if you are just starting work on a paper.

The Subject Area section is very broad (music, history, medicine) and not normally helpful. It is best to avoid this limit.

Another useful limit is by Language. Many of the resources at the library are in German or French, so if you can only use English sources, you can search for only those.

Finding a Journal

Are you looking for a specific article from a dance, music, or theatre journal? Do you just need any article from a specific dance, music, or theatre journal?

Here’s one way to use the Music Easy Search tool on our home page to do that.

First, type the name of the journal in the search box. You can be precise and use quotation marks around it to keep those words together if you want.


Then, check the top of the results screen to see if Easy Search has suggested a match:


Once you click on the link, you’ll get a list of choices. Check carefully to see which article tool has the dates you need.


The other way to approach this search is to use the new Online Journals and Databases tool linked from our site. This is recommended if you are looking for a journal that is not in dance, music, or theatre.


More information about how to do that is available at this blog post.

MPAL Easy Search

Are you just beginning research for a project? If so, the Easy Search tool on the MPAL homepage may help you find many of the resources you need to get started. Easy Search searches the UIUC library catalog, I-Share, dictionaries and encyclopedias, and other databases to find reference entries, books, scores, recordings, journal articles, and newspaper articles.

Easy Search is especially helpful for helping you decide which of the many tools it links to to focus on as you continue your search past the first phase.


To use this tool, type in the Keyword, Author, or Title of the material you are looking for. After clicking “search” you will be directed to a page with links to your results.

The first section on the results page lists matches for the item in the UIUC library catalog and also in I-Share libraries. Often the results are further limited by Scores, Recording, and Film/Video. The results also include if your search was found in eBooks (including Google and Hathi Trust) or on IDEALS – the UIUC dissertation depository.


The Easy Search also covers journals including RILM, IIMP, JSTOR, and IIPA. By clicking on the Article Matches, you will be directed to a list of the articles that contain the words you searched for.


Finally, this tool searches through newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the London Times. This can be very helpful if you are looking for concert reviews.


DVDs can be checked out

Did you know that the Music Library has hundreds of DVDs in various genres (not just opera!) that you can check out? All you have to do is take the call number to the circulation desk and ask for the item. Here is just a small sample:

DVD M5 C538 2002 Claudio Arrau: Schumann Piano Concerto, Schumann Carnaval, Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 32

DVD M1060 K378 2005 Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic: Mussorgsky Pictures at an Exhibition

DVD M1630.18 S736 2002 Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette: Standards

DVD M1741.18 L439 2003 Led Zeppelin: Live at the Royal Albert Hall 1970

DVD M1812 K63 R4 Kodo (drummers) Live at the Acropolis

DVD PN1992.8 D6 J646 2002 John and Yoko’s Year of Peace

To find these and more DVDs in the library catalog, set limits to “Film/Video” and do an author, title, or keyword search for what you want.