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A guide to conducting research in Dance at Barnard College

Research Librarian

Profile Photo
Meredith Wisner
Meredith Wisner
Research & Instruction Librarian for the Arts
Office: 306 Milstein

Mon & Tues: Zoom only
Wed - Fri: In-person/Zoom

Get an NYPL Card!

NYPL library cards

As a Barnard student you can sign up for New York Public Library (NYPL) card! They're free!

  • Online (You’ll need to stop by a branch to get the actual card)
  • At any NYPL branch (bring your student ID)
  • Or with a Barnard Personal Librarian! PLs all have NYPL cards in our offices (your card won’t be active for about a week)

The NYPL has more than 6 million items circulating, including books, e-books, audiobooks, music, and movies. Thank you to our friends at the George Bruce branch for working with us to make on-campus card signups happen! The NYPL has 92 locations in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. The closest branches to Barnard are the Morningside Heights and George Bruce branches.

Dance Research Guide

Research Guide for Dance


This guide brings together materials useful for conducting research in dance.Six dancers on a stage gazing down, each with their right foot turned inward and their forearms raised elbow high and hands held limply.
Use the side navigation to find:  

  • Sources for background information in dance 
  • How to find books in Columbia libraries and beyond
  •  Articles and reviews specific to dance research
  • Streaming media sources
  • Primary sources and data research in dance
  • Recommendations for citing and writing

[Image] V. Sladon, Dance performance in Minor Latham Playhouse, photograph. 1970. Barnard Archives and Special Collections. 

Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Developing Keywords

Why use keywords?

Keywords are terms that describe the topic you are researching. Keywords can be a people, places, things, ideas, or concepts. We need keywords to effectively search in library academic databases (like CLIO or Jstor). Unlike internet browsers, which have developed to understand full questions written in natural language, academic databases use keywords to locate resources. 

There are no perfect searches when using keywords, which is why it's useful to brainstorm lots of related terms and/or synonyms to locate what you are looking for. For example, we might use the word "teenager" to describe a particular population, but the term "youth" might be used in a database instead.  You can also find new keywords once you begin searching in the content section and subject sections of a catalog entry.

Screenshot of a catalog record showing subject and content sections

Using boolean operators and boolean modifiers