~ Identifying ~
The SearchWorks catalog provides information on all circulating sound and video recordings in the Stanford Libraries, as well as an increasing number of archival holdings. Searching the catalog can be difficult at times in part because of the way sound recordings often compile musical works. Numerous composers, performers and pieces can be present on a single disc or tape. Librarians are happy to help you!
Discographies provide record label names and issue numbers, information essential to identifying recordings that may be in the Archive of Recorded Sound collections. By looking up label names and issue numbers, Archive staff can determine if a particular recording is present in the Archive. Online finding aids to selected collections are listed on the ARS page.
Streaming audio databases make available many thousands of recordings, including significant amounts of classical, jazz, and world music. Search options vary by provider; again, keyword searches are encouraged, as are alternate spellings of names and titles.
~ Finding ~
Sound and video recordings are housed in the Music Library, the Archive of Record Sound, Green Library, SAL3, the University Archives, and the Hoover Institution. Circulation and access policies vary. SearchWorks lists locations and availability.
Streaming audio databases are available to all SUNET ID holders, and stream both on and off campus. Most are mobile-friendly. Independent researchers may access these databases at stations in the Music Library.
~ Listening ~
Music Library CDs and DVDs circulate to all borrowers for 7 days, and may be renewed once via My Account. Green Library recordings, and LPs, audio cassettes and VHS tapes stored at SAL3 (off campus) also circulate. Contact the Music Library or Green Media & Microtext Center for details. Recordings in the Archive do not circulate.
The Music Library has playback equipment for CDs, DVDs, LaserDiscs, VHS tapes, LPs and audio cassettes. The Archive of Recorded Sound houses a state-of-the-art audio room for playback of multiple formats. The room can accommodate small groups; reservations are required.
~ An abundance of formats ~
CDs and DVDs are the current “hard copy” formats of choice for most commercial sound and video recordings, and most newly-purchased recordings are in these formats. However, please be aware that the Stanford Libraries own and provide access to research materials in virtually all formats that have ever been employed to record sound and moving images. These include: wax cylinders; shellac, acetate, aluminum and vinyl discs; piano rolls; magnetic wire and tape recordings; compact discs; and various moving image projected media.
The Stanford Media Preservation Lab works closely with the Music Library to prevent loss of audio recordings in fragile condition or obsolete formats through digital reformatting efforts.
~ Care and handling ~
Proper treatment of sound and video recordings can prevent loss of data and extend the shelf lives of disc and tape collections. Visit these sites for more information: