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Circulating Theatre and Film at the Library for the Performing Arts: Overview

Borrow books with a NYPL Library Card

This is a guide to the Circulating Theatre and Film books on the First & Second Floors at the Library for the Performing Arts (LPA). Most of the materials on the First & Second Floors can be checked out with your NYPL library card. These materials are part of the Branch Libraries of NYPL and as such can be borrowed and returned from the Library for the Performing Arts or any other NYPL Branch Library. 

We encourage you to begin your research in the Circulating Collections because the materials are readily accessed, reviewed, and borrowed. If you have any questions or you need assistance with any project please see the librarian at the information desk. 

Finding anything

There are so many ways to find things here it could make your head explode. Fortunately, most any staff you see working on the Second Floor can help you or they can point you to the best person who can. Your BEST choice for help is ALWAYS one of the service desks or the information desks...So as Mama Rose says, “Sing out!”


  • Use the above tab named "Go Straight to the Shelf." There you'll find quick call number guides.

  • The Branch Search tool is a simple straightforward search box that is perfect if you know the title you seek or if basic keyword searching is adequate. After your query does a broad pass over your subject you can limit and refine the results to better suit your needs. --Like location, or format, perhaps.  

  • If you want to try a more refined search, use the Legacy Catalog.

  • If you're seeking Research materials, use the Research Catalog. For help with Research materials, go to the Third Floor.

For an explanation of what you're seeing on the results page GO HERE.

About Subject Headings

In the library catalog, books, videos, and other materials are assigned "subject headings" based on their content. These terms are much like keywords but they follow standard structure and ordering rules. They are a useful and precise way to search because you're using the exact language the system is looking for. When you put the terms or strings of terms in a "subject" search it can lead to many discoveries. When you find something interesting, scroll down in the description and click on other subjects that may apply to your quest. Welcome to the rabbit hole!

Here is a sample list of theater-related subject headings, some of which pertain equally to books and videos (visual materials). It may give you a sense of commonly used vocabulary and how subject headings are structured. 

Dramatic production
Theater -- Great Britain
Dramatists, American
Theater -- History
Theater in art
Acting--Psychological aspects
Theater in literature
Acting -- Study and teaching
One-act plays
Theater -- Moral and ethical aspects
Acting -- Vocational guidance
Set designers
Theater -- Social aspects -- United States
Costume -- History
Stage lighting
Theater - Production and directories
Costume design
Stage management
Theater -- Religious aspects
Costume designers
Theater audiences
Theater -- Reviews
Drama collections
Theater critics
Theatrical companies
Drama techniques
Theater -- Dictionaries
Theatrical producers and directors
Dramatic criticism
Theater -- England
Pinter, Harold, 1930-2008
Pinter, Harold, 1930-2008--Criticism and interpretation
Mamet, David -- Criticism and interpretation
New York Shakespeare Company

Interpreting Search Results

No matter what search technique you choose, you'll be presented with a list of items that might be what you seek. The list looks different depending on how you got it, but it's always a list of items connected to your search. 

When you choose an item you'll be taken to the detailed record. There's a lot of information here, but look, at the bottom - Subject Headings! Check them out for related searches.

And finally, there is the information about where your materials can be accessed:




Crucial information about whether the item is Circulating or belongs to the Research Divisions (including SASB and Schomberg)

Often there will be a "REFERENCE" copy. Not to be confused with "RESEARCH." Reference copies are located in the Reference section on the 2nd floor and are restricted to use in the library only. 

"Research" materials are located on the Third floor. Speak to the librarian about accessing Research materials. 

This is the number on the spine of the book that indicates its location on the shelf. Its "address" of sorts. See tab "Straight to the shelf"

There is a separate section on the second floor for Reference books. The call number on the spine of a Reference book has a preface - "Ref." Reference books may NOT be borrowed. 

This will tell you if the item is available or if it's checked out -  when it's due.