Searching for Popular Songs

Searching for Popular Songs at the Oakland Public Library
The Oakland Public Library has an extensive collection of popular songs in songbooks, fake books and sheet music from the OPL Sheet Music Special Collection. Locating songs can be quite simple or can require in-depth research.

Many sheet music for songs in the library can be found in song anthologies or collections. When searching for a song it is crucial to spell the title accurately since some online databases may not recognize misspelled or incorrect titles. See Song Indexes & Resources for Verifying Song Titles for resources to consult to verify the correct standard song title.

Using the Online Catalog
From the library’s homepage (www.oaklandlibrary.org), type in the title of the song in the search box located at the top of the page. It is almost always best to search for songs using a keyword search. If you are certain of the exact song title, enclose the song title in quotation marks, for example, “hard day’s night” (excluding the initial article, a, an, the, and or but). Entering the phrase within quotation marks limits the search to the words of the phrase in that order. Searching the catalog is not case sensitive.

If a title is long, or if you are uncertain about a title, you can shorten the title string that you place within quotes. For instance typing “feeling in the moonlight” will find “Did you ever get that feeling in the moonlight.”

Once you have searched for the title, refine your results by format by using the left hand panel options to “Refine by” “printed music.”

If you are using the classic catalog or advanced search, be sure you are searching song titles using keyword search. Searching the title field will only yield songbooks with that title, and will not search the contents. Limit your search by material type for “printed music.”

Other Song Resources
If your song search in the Oakland Public Library catalog is unsuccessful, you can continue your search in the following ways.

  1. Use the Song Index – a card index file located next to the Adult Reference Services desk at the Main Library.
  2. Search Link+. Link+ is a union catalog of contributed holdings from participating libraries in California and Nevada.
  3. Search in WorldCat – an online catalog database of thousands of libraries around the world. Getting music from another library may require an Interlibrary Loan request.
  4. Search the following Song Indexes & Resources for Verifying Song Titles and Digital Music Collections. Obtaining music from other library systems may require an Interlibrary Loan request.

Do not consider your search complete until you have spoken to a librarian at the Adult Reference Services desk at the Main Library. For additional help searching for popular songs, or other music related questions, contact:

Adult Reference Services
Oakland Public Library, Main Library
125 14th Street – Oakland, CA 94612
510-238-3138
Email: Ask a Librarian

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