Your first stop: The University Libraries catalog

Using the University Libraries online catalog, you can both browse our physical and digital holdings and you can search for known items. Visit to get started with searching. The first think you'll see is the Libraries Search box:

An image of the libraries homepage with the Libraries Search box circled.

The Libraries Search box is a great place to start searching for music materials because you can use it to find both digital materials like PDFs of journal articles and streaming audio and video AND physical materials like CDs, LPs, DVDs, scores, and books. If you know what you're looking for (a journal article title and author or a composer name and the title of a piece), enter it into the Libraries Search box to get started.

Locating digital materials in the Libraries catalog

You can search for digital materials and narrow down your search results using the limiters built into the catalog! Start by entering keywords (author/composer and title will be enough to get you started); once you receive your search results, use the options for "Availability" to limit to "Available Online":

An image of the Libraries catalog interface, with the "Availability" options circled and an arrow pointing toward "Available online."


After limiting your search results to "Available Online so you see only digital materials, you can narrow things down further by selecting the type of item you're looking for. Choose the "Material Type" you want from the list:


An image of a set of search results from the Libraries catalog, with the "Material Type" limiter on the right side of the screen circled.

Once you've narrowed your search results down to the digital item you want, you can click the green "Online access" to go to it:


If you're not already logged in, you'll be asked to sign in with your UMN internet ID and password. Once you're in the interface of the Libraries database that includes this digital item, look around - there may be helpful accompanying material like liner notes that can be useful for your research.

The video below shows the sequence for using Libraries Search to find digital materials:

Searching for digital materials using Libraries Search from Jessica Abbazio on Vimeo.


Locating physical materials in the Libraries catalog

The easiest way to find physical music materials like scores and recordings in the Libraries catalog is to start by using "Advanced Search" - just click the down arrow next to the search box on the Libraries homepage, and choose "Advanced Search" from the list:


Once you're in Advanced Search, you have two options:

  • Libraries Search
  • Catalog Only


Libraries Search is the same as the search box on the main Libraries page ( - it searches our physical collections like books, scores, and CDs, but also many of our digital resources like Naxos Music Library and Met Opera on Demand. Libraries Search is great when you're not sure what you're looking for and want to see what's out there, but not as useful if you know that you want a print score or a physical CD since the higher number of search results may bury the items you want. When searching for physical music materials, use Catalog Only - you'll get more options to limit to the kinds of items you want before even starting your search. And the more information you put in to start, the fewer results you'll get and the more relevant they'll be to what you need.

Some options for limiting your search in Advanced Search > Catalog Only:

  • Search Scope: This just means telling the catalog which physical Libraries location to limit the search to - the Music Library will have most of what you need, but some useful books and journals might be held in Wilson Library, and some relevant DVDs might be held in Walter Library. If you're searching for print scores, you might want to limit to "Music Library," but leaving this set to "Twin Cities Catalog" when searching for anything else will ensure that you'll see pertinent materials held at libraries all over campus.
  • Material Type: This is this most helpful way to limit a search for musicians. You can use the options from this menu to limit to scores, audio recordings, video recordings, and other types of materials. Remember to check the option for scores when you don't want to see books, journals, or other search results!


Once you've found materials in the catalog, the next step is use the information in the record to help you locate the items you want. Click on the record for the resource you want, scroll down, and you'll find information about where it's located in the form of a call number. If the item is a book or a score, the call number will have a letter (M for scores, ML for books about music literature and history, and MT for books about music technique, pedagogy, and all practical aspects of performing music), and a series of numbers. It may also have a word like Quarto or Folio before the letter(s) and numbers - this is very important for figuring out where in the Music Library the item is shelved. Lastly, the catalog can tell you whether an item is available ("Item in place") or unavailable because someone else has it checked out ("On loan"). 



For more information about navigating the Music Library and finding physical materials on the shelves, see the Access physical items (scores, recordings, books, journals) in the Music Library page of this guide.


Questions? Need help? 

Please contact Music Librarian Jessica Abbazio ( or the Music Library staff ( for help!

Last Updated: Sep 7, 2021 9:59 AM