Thursday, September 4, 2014

Music Research Tools Free & Online through San Francisco Public Library

This information is also available as a printable pdf file.

Your San Francisco Public Library card allows you to check out and return books to and from the Main Library and 27 branch libraries throughout the City. You can reserve material and have it sent to and any of these locations. It is also possible to request material from other libraries in California and from all across the country. Your Library card also gives you access to eBooks, eReference resources, databases and streaming audio and video.

Our collection includes more than 20,000 books, 32,000 scores, as well as the collected works of over 200 composers. We also have an in-depth collection of popular music and Broadway songbooks. The Dorothy Starr Collection contains over 38,000 pieces of vocal sheet music. Our collection also includes reference works, thematic catalogs, guides to repertoire, and resources for writing program notes. We have scores and instructional material for all instruments and ensembles.


The San Francisco Public Library Catalog. Our books, scores and recordings are indexed here. You can limit your catalog search to scores, books, eBooks, CDs, eMusic, DVDs, eVideos, or LPs.

Link+. This is a service that allows San Francisco Public Library card holders to borrow material from other libraries in California and Nevada including many libraries from the CSU system.

Interlibrary Loan. San Francisco Public Library card holders can also request books and scores from public and university libraries from the entire country.


Classical Scores Library. Includes digitized scores, mostly of contemporary classical works not yet in the public domain.

Dorothy Starr Sheet Music Collection. A collection of vocal sheet music. This collection is particular strong for popular song, but also includes Broadway and film song, art song, operatic arias (in various ranges) and choral works for various ensembles.

Fakebook Index. An index to lead sheets and fakebook arrangements for all styles of music including jazz, pop, rock, classical and folk music.

Orchestral Music Sets. The Library loans sets of parts to orchestral works to registered ensembles. These parts are also available to consult for audition preparation.

Dorothy Starr Collection stamp with Starr's The Music Stand logo.


Oxford Music Online. Provides online access to the the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The Oxford Dictionary of Music, The Oxford Companion to Music and the Encyclopedia of Popular Music.

Music Index. A Comprehensive Guide to Music Periodicals and Literature. An index, abstracts and some full text to music periodicals.

Rock’s Back Pages. An archive 25,000 articles covering rock music’s movements and musicians.

JStor. Full text articles from 1838 onward from scholarly journals in all areas of the arts and humanities.

African American Music Reference. Essays and images that document all forms of black American musical expression, including blues, jazz, spirituals, civil rights songs, slave songs, minstrelsy, rhythm and blues, gospel.

STREAMING AUDIO AND VIDEO from Alexander Street Press

Classical Music Library. High quality streaming audio to more than 15,000 classical music albums covering all eras and genres.

American Song. A streaming audio collection of over half a million tracks of American roots music and pre-1960 American popular music.

Contemporary World Music. Provides access to more than a million tracks of music from 169 countries in contemporary and traditional styles.

Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries. Provides audio and liner notes for recordings from the Smithsonian Folkways label. These include world music, folk music, classical music and spoken word recordings.

Classical Music in Video. Contains more than 1,000 hours of classical music performances and masterclasses in streaming video.

If you have questions or need reference assistance, call us at 415-557-4525 during regular Library hours.

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