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Recorded Sound Research at the Library of Congress

Finding Sound Recordings

The Recorded Sound Research Center has a number of onsite resources that are not searchable through the Library's website. If you can't find what you're looking for using our online tools, don't hesitate to get in touch with the librarians in the Recorded Sound Research Center!

There are several ways to search for recorded sound materials in the collections of the Library of Congress, including the Online Catalog, SONIC (the Recorded Sound Section's catalog), and collection guides and finding aids. It's important to note, however, that not all of our materials are discoverable using the catalogs and strategies described here.

Library of Congress Online Catalog

Advanced Search is the quickest way to find film or video (see screenshot below):
- Include recording in one of the keyword fields to limit your results to only sound recordings materials.
- You can also Add Limits by clicking the white button right above the Search button.
- Search for audio materials by title. Many of the items in our collections are not fully cataloged, so subject access is limited. And keep in mind that we do not have a comprehensive catalog of all of our holdings.

On the Advanced Search Screen, include <strong>"recording"</strong> in one of the keyword fields to limit your results to only sound recordings.


SONIC (Sound Online Inventory and Catalog) is the Recorded Sound Section's database. SONIC allows you to search for 78's, 45's, copyright cassettes, and many broadcast and archival recordings. SONIC offers several kinds of searches. You can search by name, title, or subject, and by keyword.

  • For commercially released albums, it is best to search by an artist, an album title, or a composer. Because some of the bibliographic records for commercially released albums do not include song titles, researchers should not rely on song title searches to retrieve information about an album.
  • Many performers are not listed in our records for radio broadcasts, and while it is always worth trying to search a performer's name, the specific program title and a date are often more useful for locating broadcasts. Often news broadcasts have very generic titles and our cataloging rarely includes information about the specific stories covered on a broadcast for a given day.
A Keyword Anywhere search will return records that contain your search terms anywhere in the record. You can search two terms or phrases using Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT), and limit by date. While both of the catalogs above offer some subject access, it is usually more effective to search by title, date, or performer.

Research Assistance

If you can't find what you're looking for using SONIC or the Library's general catalog, we may still have it. A portion of our collections are not fully cataloged and searchable online, so always contact the Recorded Sound Research Center reference librarians if searching the catalogs doesn't yield any results. The Library has several onsite indexes, card catalogs, and internal databases that are not searchable online. The Recorded Sound reference librarians are always happy to help locate materials.

For more advice on searching, visit:

Form and Genre Terms

Form and genre terms may assist you when searching by subject. See our guide to those terms at the link below.