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Writing for the Arts

Music Librarian

Steve Henry

Librarian for Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

Felicity Brown
Office: Room 1517A
Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library
8270 Alumni Dr.
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742-1630


This guide is designed to help you use the library to locate scholarly and reputable sources to support your program notes and other papers on the arts. For simplicity's sake, I will focus on four main library resources: WorldCat UMD, the RILM database, and the International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance. The I'm stuck tab also has some additional resources you might want to try, including LexisNexis, JSTOR, RIPM, and various full-text collections of historical newspapers. You can use the tabs above to learn more about these tools. As a summary:

  • WorldCat UMD is probably the best place to start. It will find books (paper and e-books) available from the library, recordings, DVDs (including documentaries), and much more. Things you find in WorldCat UMD may be in any of the 8 branch libraries on campus, at other University of Maryland system campuses, or even at other libraries around the U.S. For time's sake, it's probably best to stick with what is on the College Park campus, but we can get things from other UMD campuses in around 3 days for you. WorldCat UMD will also return a smattering of scholarly articles, but to find many more, try using RILM. Click the WorldCat UMD tab above for more hints and information.
  • RILM is another great resource to know. It indexes scholarly articles, books on music, dissertations, some popular music magazines, and more, and is definitely the best tool for finding scholarly articles. Since RILM does skew a little bit toward the scholarly side, you won't always find articles on the most current popular music acts (for those, try finding magazine articles from Music Index). Although RILM includes many articles in full-text, it is not a completely full-text database. You may need to take additional steps to locate an article in the library once you've identified it. See the RILM tab on this guide for more information.
  • LexisNexis Academic is most useful as a large collection of newspaper articles. You will also find transcripts of radio shows, and many other things. The sources in LexisNexis will not typically be "scholarly" but they will offer good background information and can often be considered primary sources.
  • International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance is similar to RILM but covers theatre, dance instead. Tip: you can search both International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance and RILM at the same time by going into one or the other, clicking Choose Databases, and selecting both from the list.

For many topics related to this course, those three will suffice. However, depending on your topic, there may be other tools that will be helpful. If you are stuck, check out the I'm Stuck tab of the guide for some suggestions. If you have questions or would like further guidance, please contact me. My profile with contact info appears on every page of this guide and you can contact me however you like.

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