Loading Library Hours...

MPAL Collections Overview


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 with about 7,500 items from the music collection. 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 collection and related equipment 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 West Nevada Street, where it now holds approximately 440,000 items onsite, including roughly 290,000 items in various formats in its circulating and reference collections and 150,000 items in its Special Collections location. Although these numbers are ever growing, across the circulating and special collections, as of 2020 this included: 145,000 scores, a 90,000-item historic sheet music collection, 91,500 sound recordings, 83,000 books, 10,200 video recordings, 18,000 serial issues, and thousands of special items such as piano rolls, manuscripts, and educational kits. Thousands more music-related items are held at the high-density library storage facility on campus. All items except those in the historic sheet music collection have records in the online catalogue. Additional interdisciplinary materials relating to music can be found in other subject collections on campus, including the Main Stacks.

The Music Collection

Musical scores and recordings (in many formats) comprise the bulk of the collection: Illinois is both a performing and academic music school, with a comprehensive range of academic programs in music education, music composition, musicology and ethnomusicology, performance, 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 University of Illinois Library. The Library also provides electronic access to many online databases and journals, reference tools, and several streaming media resources.

See also: Music Collection Development Policy
See also: Music Special Collections Home

The Dance Collection

The dance materials consist of over 3,500 books on dance, plus a significant collection of dance videos. Electronic resources include the International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance with Full Text, the Performing Arts Periodicals Database, 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 Library also provides electronic access to several streaming video resources.

See also: Dance Collection Development Policy

The Theatre Collection

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 Literatures & Languages Library. The Music and Performing Arts Library also collects modern play scripts. The Library also provides electronic access to a large number of theatre journals, play databases, and streaming video resources.

See also: Theatre Collection Development Policy

Related Collections

For additional information about online and related physical collections elsewhere on campus please see the appropriate subject research page linked under Research Resources from the menu above.