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Theater Library Resources at Case

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Resources for SAGES Scholars


First year students may find themselves in a First Seminar or University Seminar with a topic which relates to theater. If you do not have a background in theater, or even if you do, you may feel nervous trying to find information on various aspects of the theater, cinema or an actor or actress. The materials listed below are a good start.

Background material:

  • Oxford Reference Online is a suite of online tools. Once within the database, click on 'Subjects', select 'Performing Arts'. Look for the 'Refine by Subject' filter on the left, click the + sign next to 'Performing Arts' and select 'Theatre'. Your searches will then search across a variety of tools for which you can choose the one which you think will be most helpful. Note that you can also select 'Literature' under the subject filter for reference books on Shakespeare and plays.


Using Discovery to find Online Journal Articles:

Go to and look for the Search Discovery box (midway down the page, to the right).

Overall strategy: execute searches which generate a large number of citations and then use various filters to reduce the results to a manageable set.

Step 1: format your search after giving careful thought to the terms which most accurately represent your topic on a broad level. The best searches are small strings of nouns. Terms are connected by logical operators: AND, OR, NOT, but the AND operator is understood and doesn’t need to be explicitly included. Generally avoid terms such as: relationship, effect, or impact which relate search terms to each other. You may use a single asterisk to stand in for multiple characters: wom*n = woman or women, music* = music or musician or musical. Phrases should be put in quotes: “united states”.

Step 2: apply as many mechanical limits as possible. For online journal articles, apply the following limits from the left hand Refine Results sidebar: under Limit To select full-text, and under Limit by Source Type, check the box next to Academic Journals.

Step 3: limit to a subject. Under Limit by Subject, click Show More … and make a selection. These are terms which show up in the indexing for an article or the full text of an article. Choose one (or two) which seems relevant to your topic.

Step 4: close the Subject Terms box. Browse the results to find relevant articles. There are a number of ways to browse quickly and effectively:

a. Note the article title.

b. Note the name of the journal. This may help you understand the author’s perspective on a subject.

c. Note the Subjects underneath each title. These are also clues to content.

e. Access the full text and download to your computer. Use the Find command to see if certain terms related to your topic are present and where they appear in the article.

Step 5: If an article look promising, click on the small folder icon to the right of the article’s title. This will place the article in a save folder for as long as you stay in Discovery. If you leave Discovery you will lose your saved articles.

Step 6: The key to this search strategy is step 7, which is a reiteration of steps 3-6: Once you have browsed articles under one subject heading, go back, unclick your choice under Subject and choose another to work with. Repeat the process of browsing and saving. Do this as long as you like, choosing different subject terms, or even modifying your original search. Browse and save from these sets of articles.

Step 7: When you feel you have enough articles, click on your saved articles folder in the upper right-hand corner. Note that you can reformat the list in various citation formats such as MLA or Chicago/Turabian. Be sure to email the list (in its original or Discovery format) to yourself. By doing so you will receive a list which retains links to the full text.


The book collections at the Kelvin Smith Library and Kulas Music Library have many items on theater, cinema, musical theater, specific plays and playwrights, actors and actresses, and directors. Use the library's online catalog to find these materials. A good place to start is a subject search on theater, motion pictures, or musicals; or the name (last name, first name) of actors, actresses, playwrights and directors.

The local book collections are greatly expanded by the collections at OhioLINK libraries. Execute your search in the local catalog, explore what we have, and then click on the Search OhioLINK button to see what is in the OhioLINK collections.

CWRU Libraries Discovery