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Presentation for a theatrical design course. Explain what types of information we might be looking for, and how to find it. Follow with a demonstration of a variety of these tools and discussion about the merits of each.

Researching Theatrical Design

Jon Haupt
Fine & Performing Arts Librarian
February 10, 2006

Researching Theatrical Design

  • What are we looking for?
  • How are we going to use it?
  • What tools can we use to find it?
  • How do we use these tools?

What are we looking for?

  • Images
  • Critical information about:
    • Playwrights
    • Plays
    • Specific productions

Why are we looking for them?

  • Lighting
  • Scenery
  • Costuming
  • Architecture

What kinds of tools do we have?

  • Sites on the free web
  • Free web indexes
  • Indexes the library pays for
  • The library catalog

Library Catalog

  • "Books and more"
    • Books, journals, media, web sites, etc.
  • Journals, not articles
    • It can tell you we HAVE Newsweek, but not what’s in it
  • Generally only contains items that we own


Open WorldCat

  • New version of WorldCat open to everyone
  • Contains most of WorldCat
  • Google, Google Scholar, or Yahoo!
  • Familiar interface, easy to find the ILL links
  • Search using

The Free Web

  • Search engines & directories: Google, Yahoo!, etc.
  • Popular sources of all kinds
    • Web sites, magazines, etc.
    • How do we evaluate what we find there? (Quality?)

Free web indexes

Paid Indexes

  • Articles specifically about theatrical design:
    • Design & Applied Arts Index (DAAI)
  • Interdisciplinary indexes
    • General:
      • Expanded Academic Index
      • EbscoHost Academic Search Elite
    • Design:
      • Art Abstracts (online) / Art Index (paper)
      • Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals
    • History:
      • America: History and Life
      • Historical Abstracts
    • Many, many others under "Indexes and Abstracts"


  • Aggregators are not indexes, but rather places where journals are "aggregated" online and made available as a whole.
  • Of particular interest:
    • JSTOR - back issues
    • Project Muse - recent issues
  • They can be useful searching tools

How do I find these things?

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