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Theatre Research Guide

Research Resources for Theatre and Drama

Finding Books

Our Reference Collection, on the first floor of the Library, is arranged according to the Library of Congress Classification System, which groups together items on the same subject. The Library's book stacks, on the second and third floors, and our print periodicals, on the second floor, are also arranged according to this system. Some important call numbers for works on theatre and drama in general are:

PN 1560-1590
the performing arts, show business

PN 1600-1988
drama history, composition of plays

PN 2000-3307
dramatic representation, acting, stagecraft, etc.

In addition, there are call numbers for the literature of different languages. Each of these has a section for drama and theatre.

You are encouraged to browse in these sections of the Reference Collection. You will find specialized encyclopedias and handbooks, dictionaries of theatre and drama terms, biographical dictionaries for actors, directors, and other theatre people, indexes of plays identifying where they are published, directories for theatre companies, and bibliographies listing key works for the study of many theatre and drama topics, among other things. If you are looking for specific information, please ask for assistance at the Information desk, also on the first floor.

Subject encyclopedias are especially useful reference sources. Written on general topics such as world drama, or specialized ones, such as vaudeville, Black theatre, or Kabuki, they have summary articles, often written by scholars or other experts, that give you an overview of a topic. You can browse these to help you decide if you are interested in doing more research on the topic. If you have already decided on a topic, these sources may give you a framework or context for your specific investigation. The articles will also give you names of people and places important for the topic, key dates, and other information you can use in further research. Many articles in subject encyclopedias include a bibliography or list of recommended books and articles on the topic. Using these recommendations is a good way to begin more in-depth research.

To find subject encyclopedias, use the HSU Library Catalog, not QuickSearch:

  • Choose the Advanced Search tab.
  • Type the term(s) for the subject you are looking for in the first Search: box, for example art, women artists, symbols, etc. Use as few words as possible.
  • Change any of these to all of these or as a phrase, if needed.
  • Change the first within: menu to subject.
  • Type encyclopedias dictionaries in the second Search: box. (Many encyclopedias are called dictionaries. It just means that their articles are in alphabetical, or "dictionary," order.)
  • Change the second within: menu to subject.
  • Click the Search button.

For more help with using the Reference collection, please ask a librarian.

Finding Music & CDs

The library's audio recordings collection includes over 8,000 CDs (compact discs). Only CDs are being added to the collection. There are no LP (vinyl) or tape recordings in the collection.  The audio recordings collection supports the curriculum at Humboldt State University.  The collection focuses on classical, jazz, folk, and rock music but also includes speeches and sound effects.

In addition, the Naxos Music Library provides streaming access to thousands of recordings. HSU faculty, staff, and current students may use this resource on campus or remotely. The general public has access from the Library only.

Call numbers for CDs begin with CD (for example, CD-4902).  The CDs are shelved by call number in the Media Resources area on the second floor, north. Listening equipment is also in the Media Resources area. 

 Find call numbers for CDs in the HSU Library Catalog.  Below are some tips for searching.  If you need more help with recordings, please ask a librarian.

To find recordings of a particular song or album, type of music, or by a particular performer or group:

  • Enter keywords into the Search for box.  These can be song or album titles, or the names of performers or groups. Put quotation marks around any phrases--for example, "kind of blue," "an die musik," "eleanor rigby, "weather report," "guarnari quartet"--or enter keywords separately--for example, grieg piano concerto, mozart 626, beatles.
  • Choose Compact Discs in Limits, then click Search.

To find recordings of sound effects:

  • Type "sound effects" including the quotation marks into the Search for box.
  • Choose Compact Discs in Limits, then click Search.

To find animal sounds:

  • Type keywords for the animal and the word sounds into the Search for box:
fish sounds birds sounds
  • Choose Compact Discs in Limits, then click Search.

To find copyright free recordings of music and arrangements:

  • Type "production music" including the quote marks into the Search For box.
  • Choose Compact Discs in Limits, then click Search.

To see an entry for a recording when you have the call number: 

  • Type the call number, including the hyphen, in the Search for box. You don't need to capitalize.
  • Choose Call Number from the in: box, then click Search

Recordings may be checked out by anyone with a valid HSU library card for three weeks with no renewals. Up to three recordings may be checked out at one time. Fines of $1 per day are assessed for overdues ($25 maximum). The borrower will be charged for ruined recordings.

NOTE: HSU students, faculty, and staff may make interlibrary loan requests for CD recordings not in our collection. Not all libraries loan CDs, but we may be able to borrow what you need. Community patrons should contact the Humboldt County Library with interlibrary loan requests.

Finding Videos & DVDs

The videotape and DVD collection includes approximately 6000 VHS and 1000 DVD titles.

HSU faculty, students, staff, and patrons with community borrower cards may check out videos/DVDs. Students may check out up to 3 titles for 3 days.  There is a $1/day overdue fine per title.

Call numbers for videos and DVDs begin with VIDEO (eg. Video1045).  Find video call numbers using QuickSearch in the HSU Library Catalog.  Tips for searching are below.  If you need more help with finding videos, please ask a librarian.

To search for videos by title:

  • Under Quick Search select Videos/DVDs then select Title.
  • Type in the title.  Leave off any initial articles, in any language.  For example, taming of the shrew or wild duck.

To Search for videos by  keywords:

  • Under Quick Search select Videos/DVDs within Limit.
  • In Keyword, type in keyword(s) (for example, "oedipus rex" or shakespeare) you are interested in, then click Search key.

To see an entry for a video/DVD when you have the call number:

  • Type in the call number you have in Library Catalog box on the HSU Library homepage. Make sure not to add any space between video and the number (e.g., video1121) or you can also go to Quick Search and select Call Number then type in the call number.

Videos and DVDs are arranged by call number on open shelves in the Media Resources Area, located on the 2nd floor of the Library.  Viewing equipment is also in the Media Resources Area and in Library rooms 114/208/311/312/314 (Group Viewing Rooms). Persons using the Media Resources Area or conference rooms with viewing equipment may be asked to show a currently valid HSU ID card. The Media Resources Area has 23 stations containing a variety of video and audio equipment to review non-print materials.

The first priority for use of the equipment is for materials placed on Reserve. Students using the equipment to view non-Reserve items must relinquish their stations to those needing to view Reserve items. Rooms 311 and 312, which are equipped with a TV/VCR/DVD combination units, can be reserved in advance at Circulation Desk.

To show videos in class, students need to pick up a faculty authorization card before checking out any equipment from Media Distribution.