Cinema Studies Collection - Collections

This collection is maintained by the English Library.

The Cinema Studies Collection supports teaching and research in Cinema Studies. The Unit for Cinema Studies is an inter-disciplinary unit drawing students and faculty from many departments including English, Comparative Literature, History, Art, Communications, French, German, and Slavic. Most of the books are located in the Bookstacks, with frequently used English language materials and reference works being located in the English Library. Non-print materials are located in the Media Center in the Undergraduate Library. The Rare Book and Special Collections Library holds a rich collection of film scripts. The Cinema Studies collection is composed of 18,000 volumes & 565 video recordings. Film scholars across the country use the collection through interlibrary loan and by personal visits.

Version Date: May, 2007


I. Collection Description


The purpose of the Cinema Studies Collection is to support research and teaching in the study of commercial, independent, feature, and experimental motion pictures on film and in related media formats. The primary unit responsible for teaching courses in this area is the Unit for Cinema Studies, currently affiliated with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The Unit is, at present, an inter-disciplinary organization that draws students and faculty members from diverse academic communities across curricular boundaries. The current Unit for Cinema Studies roster of affiliated faculty includes instructors from the English, Comparative Literature, Women’s Studies. African-American studies, Art, Communications, French, History, German, and Slavic departments. In general, the library patrons who make the greatest use of the collection are faculty members and undergraduates, although with the establishment of an interdisciplinary Master’s Degree program, use of the collection by graduate students has experienced a steady rise. Much of the material is available to Cinema Studies scholars across the country, who may gain access to these texts through making requests through their home libraries’ inter-library loan programs. Collection development generally involves the selection of print and audio-visual materials by the Cinema Studies Specialist, the English Librarian, and faculty members currently affiliated with the Unit for Cinema Studies.

History of Collection:

The UIUC Library began systematically collecting materials related to the study of motion pictures in 1972. Since that time, the collection has continued to evolve and develop. The collection includes materials in both print and non-print formats, and in all languages. A separate fund for print works on cinema was established in 1977, and a fund for audio-visual materials was created in 1980. In 1982, responsibility for film funds was transferred to the English Library from the Undergraduate Library. In 1984 Bob Jones was named as Cinema Studies Librarian with the goal of providing a more centralized focus to the development of the collection and creating a centralized location for general information related to cinema and its study. As technologies have evolved, so has the collection: The library now houses reference works with both print text and audio-visual material on CD Rom and DVD, and holdings of film, television, and video productions include videotape, laserdisc, and DVD.

State, Regional and National Importance:

As one of the longest standing cinema-related collections held in a US library, the UIUC Cinema Studies collection is highly important. Within recent years the library has added a number of unique and rare items to both the print and audio-visual collections. At present, UIUC holds one of the most extensive collections of South Asian films on DVD. Thanks to collaboration with Dr. JaEun Ku, formerly of the Asian Library, the current Cinema Studies Specialist was able to augment significantly an already extensive program of purchasing South Korean materials (both feature film and television) on DVD as well. Plans are underway for more such collaborations with other units as well, including the development of an electronic database of materials related to South Asian film and film culture.

Unit Responsible for Collecting:

English Library.

Location of Materials:

Although works on the subject of cinema are evenly distributed among the English, Undergraduate, and Modern Languages libraries and the Main Bookstacks, the most recent and important historical and critical studies of the medium are housed in the English Library. More general texts (film in a larger cultural context) are held in the Bookstacks and Undergraduate Library. The Communications Library collects materials related to the production of documentaries, industrial studies of national cinemas, technologies and techniques of film and video production, and the relation of film to broadcast media. The Modern Languages Library holds a considerable number of texts on European cinemas. The Music Library houses texts related to the study of film soundtracks, and the relation of film to music. The Art and Architecture Library holds works related specifically to cinematography and also some studies of cinema and art (e.g., experimental and avant-garde film). The Rare Book and Manuscripts Library houses a collection of donated film scripts and various other scarce monograph and serial publications related to film. Non-print materials are held in the Undergraduate Library.

Citations of Works Describing the Collection:

Allen, Nancy, and Robert L. Carringer. An Annotated Catalog of Unpublished Film and Television Scripts at the University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign. Champaign: University of Illinois Library and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 1983. (Robert B. Downs Publication Fund, no. 7)

Manley, Nancy. “Movies Move into the Library,” Non Solus 4 (1977): 33.

II. General Collection Guidelines


Standard statement, with the following qualifications: English language books on foreign cinema are acquired by the English Library, whereas works in Western European languages are acquired by the Modern Languages and Linguistics Library.

Chronological Guidelines:

No restrictions.

Geographical Guidelines:

Global scope.

Treatment of Subject:

Standard statement. Emphasis is on materials that offer critical or historical approaches to film as artistic work, cultural artifact, dramatic narrative, or literary text. Art and Architecture Library collects works on cinematography. Undergraduate Library collects biographies of actors and actresses, as well as directors and producers. (n.b., This does not include critical assessments of a director or producers oeuvre.) The Communications Library collects studies on film-as-industry (i.e., the political economy of film production, the history of various film industries).

Types of Materials:

Standard statement. In addition, the collection manager oversees the acquisition of film scripts and audio-visual recordings.

Date of Publication:

No restrictions.

Place of Publication:

No restrictions.

III. Collection Responsibility by Subject Subdivisions with Qualifications, Levels of Collecting Intensity, and Assignments

Below is a table that lists specific subject subdivisions within the collection. Each row in the table lists a specific subject subdivision, followed by three columns noting: Collection Strength, Primary Assignments and Secondary Assignments. The Existing Collecting Strength column notes how well the existing collection covers that topic on a 1 to 5 scale with 5 being very strong. The Primary Assignments column lists departmental libraries that have the greatest collection intensity of subject materials, respectively. In the case of 2 or more libraries listed, the collection intensity is comparable. The Secondary Assignments column list departmental libraries where additional materials may be found.

Cinema Studies Collection
Actors and actresses
(criticism and biographies)
3 Undergraduate English (critical studies only)
Animation and special effects 3 Undergraduate Art/English
Cinema criticism
(critical appraisal, techniques and philosophy of criticism)
5 English Stacks/Modern Languages
Cinema History 4 English Communications/Undergraduate/Stacks
Cinema industry 4 Communications English/Undergraduate
Cinema make-up and costuming 2 English Undergraduate
Audio-visual materials 4 Undergraduate (media)
Cinema reference works 4 English Reference
Cinema recordings and scores 3 Music
Cinematographic techniques, cameras, photographic processes 3 English Art and Architecture
Directors and producers (criticism and biographies) 3 English (criticism only) Undergraduate
Movie theatres 3 Architecture English
Techniques of script writing and works by or about screen writers 3 Communications English (screenplays with critical annotations)


Version Date: May 2007