In 1944, the library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had assembled a collection of some 15,000 volumes of printed music and music books. On February 16 of that year, a separate music library branch opened on the second floor of Smith Memorial Hall: this collection comprised 250 items. For over thirty years the music collections grew, taking over ever more parts of Smith Hall; eventually, in 1969, it became necessary to move the sound recordings operation to the Undergraduate Library. In August 1974, the Music Library was able to re-consolidate its holdings within a new, purpose-build facility in the new School of Music building on W. Nevada Street.
Musical scores and recordings (in many formats) comprise the bulk of the collection: Illinois is both a performing and academic music school, with a wide range of academic programs in music education, music composition, musicology and ethnomusicology, and jazz. The library also houses several special collections, of which the best-known is probably the Renaissance Music Archive, a collection of over 2,000 microfilms of music manuscripts from the period ca 1400-1550. In 2006 the library acquired a large collection of materials from the estate of ethnomusicologist Robert E. Brown. Smaller collections, especially but not exclusively from alumni of the School of Music, are also part of the UIUC library. In recent years, papers and music manuscripts from alumni Robert Kelly and Dennis Eberhard have been incorporated into the library's holdings. See also: Music Special Collections Home
The dance materials comprise over 3,500 books on dance, plus a significant collection of ballet and dance videos and DVDs. Electronic resources include the International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance with Full Text, the International Index of the Performing Arts, and online access to journals such as Dance Magazine and Research in Dance Education (many more dance periodicals are also held in print form, with electronic versions purchased as they become available).
The University of Illinois Theatre Department has a strong focus on modern American theatre, which is reflected in our collection. Our holdings largely comprise material on theatre-craft: staging, costumes, production, and so on; more historically-based drama criticism, and some materials on drama history, remain in the English Library. The Music and Performing Arts Library also collects modern play scripts. Electronic reference resources in theatre are few, but include the International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance with Full Text. The library also provides electronic access to a large number of theatre journals.