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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


This guide is designed to provide an overview of jazz resources available at the Music & Performing Arts Library.


Welcome to the Music & Performing Arts Library (MPAL) guide to jazz research resources!

Use the tabs to the left to navigate the guide, and don't hesitate to reach out to a librarian if you need extra help. 

Depending on the types of sources you are looking for, you may also want to check out some of our other guides to finding different types of materials. We are linking a few below that might be particularly helpful.

Tips for Exploring the Collection

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.

If you want to read more about call numbers and how to decipher them, check our guide to Classification Systems. For search suggestions to browse the catalog, check out the next tab of this box! If you're not sure where to go in the library to browse one of these call number ranges, please ask us at the service desk and we'll be happy to point you in the right direction or walk you to the shelves!


  • ML410 - Biographies of individual composers
  • ML417 - Books about keyboard players
  • ML418 - Books about string players
  • ML419 - Books about instrumentalists
  • ML420 - Books about singers
  • ML3506 - ML3509; ML3561.J3 - Jazz
  • MT68 - Improvisation (methods)


  • M1366 - Jazz music for 2 or more instruments
  • M1630.18 - Jazz fake books

Each item in the library catalog is assigned one or more subject headings to tell you what it is about. You can search by subject heading using the catalog's Advanced Search feature. 

To search by subject in the catalog:

  • Open the library catalog and click on "Advanced Search" to the right of the search bar
  • Underneath "Search filters", you'll see that the default is set to "Any Field"
  • Click on the arrow next to "Any Field" and select "Subject" from the drop-down menu
  • Try a search with one of the subject headings recommended below
  • Once you've found a relevant book in the catalog, you can also use the subjects listed in the record to find additional related materials

 Here are some suggested subject headings and search tips to help you retrieve the most helpful resources from the catalog:

Start with a generic subject like "Jazz" or "Jazz musicians" as a subject:

  • Add a resource type or qualifier to narrow your results:
    • Jazz--Dictionaries or Jazz--Discography
    • Jazz musicians--Biography or Jazz musicians--Interviews
  • Specify the type of information you are looking for:
    • Jazz--History and criticism or Jazz--Analysis, appreciation
  • Specify the person, place, or era:
    • Coltrane, John, 1926-1967
    • Jazz--Louisiana--New Orleans
    • Jazz--1961-1970