The San Francisco Public Library has an extensive collection of popular songs including songbooks and sheet music from the Dorothy Starr Collection. Locating songs can be very simple or can require detailed research. Because no single approach is complete, a number of different strategies are offered for finding and verifying the titles of popular songs.
In most cases, sheet music for songs in the library are found in song anthologies or collections. For this reason when searching for a song one should search by keyword, not by title. When searching online for a song, it is crucial to spell the standard title accurately. Online databases often will not recognize misspelled or incorrect titles. You can check these resources to Verify a Song Title.
From the library’s homepage (sfpl.org) select the link for More catalog search options. From this search page, you can limit your search by library location, and by type of search. It is almost always best to search for songs using a keyword search. A title search only will find the title of the song collection itself, not the contents of the collection.
If you are certain of your song title, the most effective method of searching in keyword is to type your query inside quotation marks, for example "tea for two." (Searches in the catalog are not case sensitive). Entering the phrase within quotation marks limits the search to the words of the phrase in that order. Viewing the results, you will see that the results of this search come in many formats, as indicated by the icon on the left side of the list. The icon for a musical score is shown to the left.
If you wish to limit the search you have made to musical scores, follow the link to Modify Search from the results page. This takes you to the Advanced Search page. From here you can limit your search by library collection, date, or by language. Most importantly you can limit your search by material type. From the drag-down menu select "musical scores" and search the catalog again. The new results list may be shorter, but will only include scores. It is possible to perform an advanced search from the initial search screen. On that screen there is a link next to the "search catalog" icon.
If your song search in the San Francisco Public Library catalog is unsuccessful, you can continue your search in the following ways.
Do not consider your search complete until you have spoken to a librarian in the Art, Music, and Recreation Center.
For additional help searching for popular songs, contact:
Art, Music and Recreation Center
San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin Street San Francisco, CA 94102 (415) 557-4525