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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

MUS 558: Vocal Literature

Information to help students researching vocal literature


This page walks you through the process of searching for books in the library catalog. Navigate through the tabbed box below to learn more about the different search options available to you: keyword searching, known title / author searching, and subject searching.

For more general information about using the library catalog, requesting and renewing items, and requesting items from other universities that UIUC doesn't have in it's collection, check out the library guide below from the Main Library.

Find Books in the Library Catalog

When you perform a basic search in the library catalog you are conducting what is known as a keyword search.

  • A keyword search will check the terms you enter against almost every word in every part of an item's catalog record. 
  • If you're not sure of the exact title, perform a keyword search with the words you know (and the author's last name if you know it).
  • Or, if you're looking for books on a topic, this is often the easiest way to begin searching.

Screenshot of keyword search in Primo catalog

If you know the name of the book you need, perform a Title search in the library catalog. First, click on Advanced Search at the end of the search bar. 

Screenshot highlighting location of Advanced Search in Primo

Select Title from the first dropdown menu. If you know the exact title, use quotes around phrases to return the phrase in the exact order you indicated. If you're searching for the book Black Noise, but you don't use quotation marks around the title, your search will pull any results with "black" or "noise" in the title and you'll have to sift through irrelevant results.

Screenshot demonstrating how to do a Title Search in Primo

Use an Author search to find materials by a specific author, composer, or performer. Names can be entered in any configuration (e.g. first last or last, first).
Screenshot of Author search in Primo

A Subject search is more specific than a keyword search.

  • This will search the subject headings, which are the specific terms assigned to items in the library catalog.
  • Subject headings tell you what an item is about and can be useful in narrowing your search (like if you want to narrow your results to items about a composer and not items by the composer).

Example: To get books about music and popular culture, select Subject in the first dropdown. You can split up subjects by each line, or include them all in one line. Remember, quotation marks keep phrases together. For this example, put "Music" as the first subject and "Popular culture" as the second subject.

The dropdown menus on the right let you limit your search, so you can search only for Books (as opposed to scores, recordings, etc.).

Screenshot of subject search for music and popular culture

If your search is not narrow enough, check out the Tweak your results column to the left, especially the Subject section.

Screenshot showing facets to narrow search results in Primo

Once you find an item that looks promising, click on the title to open the full record. Scroll down to the Details section. You can use the Subjects in the record and words from the summary or table of contents to refine your search if needed.

Screenshot of catalog record highlighting the subjects

Call Numbers for Browsing

Browsing the shelves for materials related to your topic can be a great way to identify items that may be useful to you. If you find one or two items in the catalog that seem promising, look on the shelves at the items surrounding them.

Here's a list of call numbers for books about vocal music to guide your browsing:

  • ML102: Dictionaries (in Reference) to do with songs are at ML102 letter “S”; and those for vocal music are at ML102 letter “V”.
  • ML48 and ML49 (in Reference): operatic texts
  • ML54.6 (in Reference): song texts
  • ML128: Bibliographies of song are at ML128 letter “S”; those on vocal music generally are at ML128 letter “V”; and choral music resources are at ML128 letter “C”.
  • Books (non-reference) about opera begin at ML1700. This is for general works about opera; the sequence then subdivides by country, so, for example, ML1733 is for Italian opera.
  • Books (non-reference) about songs begin at ML2800.