Mendel Digital Resource: Alexander Street Music & Performing Arts

In this blog post, we will be exploring the Music and Performing Arts offerings of Alexander Street, a database to which Princeton subscribes. Alexander Street markets itself as “The largest and most comprehensive online collection of in-copyright audio and video performances and scores available anywhere”, and it’s certainly a believable claim once you start exploring what they have to offer.

We’re going to center our exploration of Alexander Street around different ways to interact with their resources. We’ll leave it up to you to browse their offerings.

To do this, let’s see what Alexander Street has to offer for Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony. We’ll start by navigating to the Music and Performing Arts database, which is located at: You’ll need to sign in via CAS to access it. Once signed in, you should see something like this:

Let’s use the search bar in the top right corner to search for “Tchaikovsky symphony 5”. We should get a screen like this one:

These results seem to be mostly recordings, but let’s say we want to first look at a score. We can make it easier to find scores by using the filters in the left sidebar. Let’s go ahead and click on “Text” under “Refine Your Search” and “Format”. In the event that the results look completely wrong, you can check your terms at the top of the page and try again as needed. You’ll need to note that any new searches need to be done using the search bar at the top right corner. Using the search bar above the results will add additional terms to your current search.

This looks a lot better. In fact, the second result looks like it’s what we want. Let’s click on it and explore what that gives us.

Nicely enough, all the movements are cleanly indexed for us, so we can skip around pretty easily. If it’s easier for what you’re doing, you can click on the icon to the left of the movement names that looks like four squares. That will pull up thumbnails of the pages in place of the movement indices.

Let’s use the third movement to explore the third icon in the sidebar of the document viewer, the one that looks like a pencil and paper. This will allow us to annotate the score, just for ourselves. You’ll need to create an account to do this using your Princeton email. The link to create an account is in the top right corner after clicking on the Sign In button.

Once you’ve gotten your account set up, let’s hit that red Annotate button. Let’s say we want to remind ourselves what “dolce con grazia” means. Go ahead and draw a box around that term with your cursor and then fill in the fields below the preview. You’ll notice you can set the visibility of your annotation to only yourself, everyone at Princeton, and everyone who uses Alexander Street. Hit the Create button to save it.

Okay, let’s come back to this score later and move on to a recording. To collect your related materials in one place, click the Playlist button above the document viewer and name your playlist. Let’s run our original search again, but this time play with some other filters, namely “Soloist / Performer”. If we pretend that we’re a Karajan fan, we can filter the results to only show us recordings with Karajan. Let’s try that.

The first result looks to be a solid recording, so let’s take a look at that.

Here, the tracks (which line up with the movements in this recording) are nicely indexed as well. We can also skip around using the waveform bar at the top of the page. Take a moment to explore the buttons under the waveform. You can hover over each to see a description of what it does. A button that may be particularly useful is the scissor icon on the right side, which allows you to make clips.

You can drag the yellow box around to position your clip, and the track indices will conveniently highlight which track you’re in. Using the dialog underneath the player, you can customize your clip even more with a specified length or start/stop times and then save it. The saved clip will then appear in a new tab next to “Tracks”.

This is just a brief introduction to what Alexander Street has to offer and we encourage you to explore the rest of it on your own. As always, if you have any questions or run into problems, the Mendel staff is here to help.

Mendel Digital Resource: Naxos Music Library

If you’ve been following along with some of our birthday posts on Facebook, “Naxos” probably seems a little familiar. If not, that’s perfectly fine; keep reading to learn more about this online resource!

First of all, what is Naxos? Well, it’s a treasure trove for musicians containing millions of tracks of music — including the complete catalogs of several recording labels — as well as other musical resources, such as album cover art, the contents of CD pamphlets, opera libretti and synopses, and biographies. Naxos access is provided to all University students, faculty, and staff through the Princeton University Library.

Searching for Items

With all this content packed into Naxos, the search function will be very helpful in your search for resources. If you just want to do a quick search of the Naxos catalog, then the Keyword Search at the top of the page should give you what you’re looking for, but if you have a more specific search in mind — maybe you’re looking for a particular recording by a particular artist — then you’re better off working with the Advanced Search.

Let’s take a look at the Naxos Advanced Search. After clicking on the light blue “Advanced Search” button in the top right corner of the screen, you should see something like this:

On that screen, you’ll notice all the different options you have for narrowing your search. What’s nice about the Naxos search interface is that as you type terms into each of the boxes, Naxos provides you with suggestions from its catalog. For example, if we are looking for music by Lili Boulanger, we can begin typing “Boulanger” and we’ll see her name as a suggestion, as shown below:

If we click on her name in the suggestions, Naxos auto-fills the box for us. If that’s the only term we want, we can go ahead and hit Search, but we can also add other terms to the search. Let’s say that we’re only interested in recordings released under the Deutsche Grammophon label. Again, we can use the Naxos auto-fill to help us:

After hitting “Search”, we get a results page that looks something like this:

Using the Naxos Player

Let’s take a look at the second result from our search. Clicking on the boldface title or the album cover art will bring up the album. On this page, you can see the contents of the album as well as a lot of information about it. For some albums, the accompanying booklet is available.

The Naxos player works using a queue system in which you select items to send to your “queue” and they will be played back in the order in which they were placed in the queue.

You’ll notice that each track has an unchecked checkbox, meaning none of the tracks have been selected to perform an action. With everything unchecked, clicking the large blue play button will queue the entire album in the order in which it appears. That will also pull up your Play Queue, which you can hide by clicking “Hide Player”. In this window, you’ll see everything you’ve queued and the order in which they will play. You can skip to a specific track using the skip buttons at the bottom of the page or by clicking the play button next to one of the tracks. If you don’t want something in your queue anymore, go ahead and hit the trash can next to it. You can also clear your queue using “Clear all” in the top right corner.

The bottom of the player interface contains many familiar features from other music streaming apps. In addition to the track-seeking buttons mentioned above, there is also a button on the far left to repeat the entire contents of the queue (one click) or just the current track (two clicks), a button a little farther to the right that will play the contents of the queue in a random order, and a control on the far right for volume.

Let’s go back to the album information by clicking on the right-pointing chevron arrow on the left of the screen or “Hide Player”. If you want to see the player again, click on the eighth note on the right side of the screen.

Here, we can do some other things with the album and individual tracks. To do this, we’ll work with the icons below the play button. The first button provides a link to the item that you can copy-paste as needed. The second adds an item to your Favorites list, which you can access by clicking on “Favorites” in the dark blue sidebar on the left. The middle button adds the item to a playlist. The “Playlists” button in the dark blue sidebar will bring you to the playlists you have created. Next is the share button, which allows you to share the item on Facebook or Twitter. The final button adds the item to your queue without playing it automatically.

Using those buttons with all the boxes unchecked applies the actions to the entire album. If you only want to perform those actions on certain tracks in the album, click the checkbox next to the items you’re interested in before using those buttons.

Album and Track Information

Earlier, we mentioned that the album page gives you a lot of information about the album, including categories, composers, and artists. Each piece of information is a link that will bring you to a new page which contains links to all materials pertaining to it. For instance, if we click on “London Symphony Orchestra” under Artists, we see the artist page for the LSO with a bit of information about them:

Scrolling farther down, we find an interactive interface for their discography that links to other albums and items in the Naxos catalog. This is great for finding similar or related items.

This feature also works with individual tracks. Clicking on the plus sign next to the track name expands the information panel for that specific track. This panel gives you artist information for that particular track with links that work the same way as the links in the sidebar.


Let’s take a closer look at playlists in Naxos. The first time you create a playlist, you may be prompted to log in. If you don’t have a Naxos account, go ahead and the “Sign up” link under the login form.

Fill out the registration form using your email address.

Going back to the playlist creation, we’re going to make a playlist of the four tracks by Lili Boulanger in the album we were working with earlier. We can create this playlist by checking the boxes next to those four tracks and clicking the plus sign underneath the large play button. The first time, you’ll need to create a folder by clicking on the plus sign next to the folder dropdown. Fill in the fields and click “Save”.

Now, we can access our playlists by clicking on “Playlists” in the far left, dark blue sidebar.

Here, we see our playlist, and we can also explore other playlist collections using the tabs at the top of the page. From this screen, we can play the entire playlist using the play button next to its name. By clicking on the name of the playlist, we can see its contents and play tracks separately.

Final Remarks

When writing this blog post, we were working with the classical music edition of Naxos, but Naxos also has an album database for jazz:

We hope this was a helpful introduction to (or review of) Naxos and its features. If you ever have any questions, please reach out to us at Mendel. We are more than happy to help!

First-Year Intro Part 4: Special Collections

The Princeton University Library, and by extension Mendel, has numerous special collections. These span from digitized manuscripts and historic scores to documents from people affiliated with Princeton’s music department. This final blog post in our introductory series will be a very brief look into some of the many holdings at PUL and Mendel.

A notable holding in Special Collections is the Hall Handel Collection, which consists of almost all the manuscripts or early editions of works by George Frideric Handel as collected by James S. Hall and expanded upon by the University. You can check out what’s in the Hall Collection at

A more recent addition to PUL’s special collections for music is the Fred D. Valva Collection of Silent Film and Vaudeville Theatre Orchestra Music. The Valva Collection contains the music library of Fred D. Valva, a violinist who also conducted orchestras for silent films and vaudeville theatre. The orchestral parts that make up the collection are currently being digitized for worldwide viewing, and the completed items can be viewed on the Digital PUL site at

Digital PUL is also a treasure trove of other interesting holdings from across the PUL branches. All of the DPUL collections for music can be found at This contains archives of past performances by Princeton ensembles as mentioned in our previous blog post among other recordings and manuscripts.

First-Year Intro Part 3: Online Resources

Through Mendel, the Princeton University Library offers several online databases and resources related to the performing arts that can be used for both learning and leisure. Some of our most popular online resources are highlighted in the sidebar of our home page at They are indicated with an orange box in this image:

These resources include Oxford Music Online (music dictionary), Naxos Music Library (music streaming), Met Opera on Demand (live and archived performances from the Metropolitan Opera in New York City), and Digital Concert Hall (live and archived performances from the Berlin Philharmonic).

We’re preparing some posts for this blog that focus on specific online resources, so stay tuned! Once those are posted, we’ll update this post with direct links to those posts.

Accessing Resources

Accessing these databases is as easy as clicking on the link in our sidebar and logging in with your Princeton credentials via CAS. Your Princeton log-in offers you on-demand, unlimited access to these resources, so you can do things like watch performances by the Metropolitan Opera or the Berlin Philharmonic from the comfort of your dorm room or anywhere with Internet access.

Resources for Research

If you’re doing research related to music and the performing arts, our Mendel Music Librarian, Darwin Scott, has prepared resource guides for music, dance, and theater. Links to those guides are also located in the right sidebar, but farther down the page. Many of these guides contain strategies for searching for sources, including tips on using the catalog as well as relevant Library of Congress subject headings (read our previous post for a little more on the Library of Congress classification system in use by PUL and Mendel).

Performance @ Princeton

Another fascinating online resource offered through Mendel is our Performance @ Princeton archive. Through that archive, you can access recordings of performances by Princeton ensembles, including the Princeton University Orchestra, the Glee Club, and other Music Department ensembles. The online PUO performance archives date all the way back to 1990 and the Glee Club has performances from 1986.

The Catalog

Last, but certainly not least, in this post is the PUL catalog. The catalog is an immensely powerful tool for exploring both electronic and print resources because its search function is integrated into so many of PUL’s resources. A single search will bring up results that are print books that can be checked out from a PUL branch, scanned versions of materials in PUL’s physical collections, and materials available solely online through the likes of special collections and various databases. Plus, the results can be filtered based on access (in the Library or Online), home library branch, and format (book, audio, video, musical score, database, etc.).

For materials housed in a PUL branch, the catalog can show you where to find it if you are less familiar with the Library of Congress call numbers or Mendel’s layout:

Clicking on “Where to find it” brings up this diagram with an approximate location:

Closing Remarks

With the immense diversity of online resources, it would be impossible to cover all of them in our blog posts, so we encourage you to let your curiosity guide you as you explore PUL’s online resources. As with print and physical materials, the Mendel staff are happy to help. You can visit us in the Woolworth Center or email us at to ask us any questions.

First-Year Intro Part 2: In-person Resources

Within our location in the Woolworth Center, Mendel has numerous physical resources that students, faculty, and staff can use. We have the expected books, scores, and periodicals in addition to technology such as print release stations, scanners, computer workstations, and audiovisual equipment.


As we mentioned in our first post, Mendel houses the Princeton University Library’s performing arts collections (the areas of music, theater, dance, and musical theater). This includes musical scores, books on music literature and dance, CDs and DVDs, current periodicals on the performing arts, and back issues of music periodicals.

Circulating Scores

Mendel’s circulating score collection is on the second floor. Most of the collection is “quarto” sized (indicated by a “q” at the end of the call number) and located centrally on the second floor. Study scores make up the first few rows of stacks, and large — “folio” or “elephant” — scores are in the back corner and have an “f” or “e” in their call number. These scores include repertoire from pre-Baroque times up through very recently composed works, some of which are even by Princeton faculty members. Circulating scores have the location code “(MUS)” and have call numbers beginning with “M”.

Music Literature

The music literature collection is also located on the second floor, in the high density shelving. To optimize our shelf space, oversized books are shelved separately after the other music literature items. Music literature items have the location code “(MUS)” and call numbers beginning with “ML”.

Pedagogical Texts

Pedagogical texts are in the second floor high density shelving after the music literature collection, have location code “(MUS)”, and have call numbers beginning with “MT”. Oversized items are also shelved separately. 

Reference Materials

Reference materials do not circulate (you may only use them in the library) and are located on the first floor. Standard reference materials are differentiated from the circulating collection by the location code “(SV)”. Some reference materials are facsimiles and are further differentiated by the location code “(SVF)”. A small number of items are held behind the circulation desk and are considered “locked”, which is indicated by “(SVL)”. These locked items may only be handled with the permission of the full-time library staff. The final subset of reference materials have the location code “(SVR)” and are the only reference materials on the second floor. Items with this location code include dictionaries and other guides. They are held in the second floor reading room.


Current issues of periodicals are held in the second floor reading room. Back issues for music periodicals are typically rebound and moved to the bound periodicals section on the first floor, indicated by the location code “(MUSPE)”. Other non-music periodicals are usually moved to Firestone once bound.

Audio-visual Materials

Audio-visual materials, including CDs and DVDs, are kept behind the circulation desk and can be retrieved upon request, but they may only be used inside the library; Mendel has media players that will be discussed in the next section. 

Off-site Loans

Some of the most valuable offerings of the Princeton University Library are the various off-site materials that are available to patrons.

One of these programs is Borrow Direct, which allows PUL patrons to borrow materials from twelve partner university libraries: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and Yale. Interlibrary Loan (ILL) works similarly. Both have online request systems on the PUL website.

PUL also has a partnership with the Columbia University Libraries, Harvard University Library, and the New York Public Library through the Research Collections and Preservation Consortium (ReCAP). ReCAP serves as off-site, high density storage for materials with more than 16 million holdings and is located on Princeton’s Forrestal Campus. PUL patrons may request any item held at ReCAP regardless of its owning library. Deliveries from ReCAP occur twice a day.


In addition to “traditional” library materials Mendel Music Library has printers, a photocopier, scanning equipment, computer workstations, and audiovisual equipment.

The printers are connected to PawPrint, the University’s cloud printing system, which allows you to print documents and retrieve them at any PawPrint printer. The library computers are already set up to print to the PawPrint network, but you will need to set up your personal computer using the steps at After printing to “PawPrint Printers”, which should show up in the list of printer options on your computer, you can go to any PawPrint printer on campus and log in, usually by scanning your TigerCard, and “release” the print job. Each student has a free printing quota of several thousand pages each academic year. Printers are located on the first two floors of the library.

Mendel’s photocopier requires a pre-paid copy card or your TigerCard (which will be charged using Paw Points) to make copies. As an alternative to paying for photocopying, free scanning equipment is also available (see below). The Mendel photocopier is located on the first floor.

Both a standard document scanner and a specialized scanner for books are available on the second floor of Mendel and are free to use. Documents scanned on these scanners can be saved to a USB thumb drive or as email attachments.

Mendel’s other technology and equipment includes external disk drives and headphones that can be borrowed for in-library use. Information and FAQs are available on Mendel’s website at


So, how does circulation work at Mendel? If you’re an undergraduate student, most items circulate for eight weeks, but there are some exceptions to this policy — including reference materials, CDs, and DVDs —  that you can see at

Once your loan period is up, you can renew your loan online at by going to Library Services > My Accounts and logging in with your Princeton NetID and password via CAS. You may also visit, call, or email us for help with renewals.

Holds can also be placed online through the library catalog at or by speaking with a library staff member. 


Reserves are actually both in the library and online, but they’ll be a pretty important part of your Princeton experience so we’ll discuss them now. Reserves are materials that your professor or instructor has set aside as important or relevant to the course. They often include supplemental texts and audiovisual materials related to the course. Physical course reserves for undergraduates are held behind the circulation desk and may be used for three hours at a time by request during which the item will be charged to your account. Reserves may not leave the library. Online reserves are available through the link in the sidebar of the course’s Canvas site. They virtually circulate for three hours using CAS.


Part of Mendel’s mission is to support the research of faculty and students in the Department of Music and the Programs in Dance, Theater, and Musical Theater. Darwin Scott, the Mendel Music Librarian, has put together resource guides which are available in the right sidebar of Mendel’s website at These are a great first stop for any research inquiries and introduce the numerous resources available through Mendel. The library staff is also available to help you with your research inquiries, both via email and in-person at the library.

Library Maps

Stack map of Mendel's first floor
The stack map for the first floor of Mendel
Stack map of Mendel's second floor
The stack map for the second floor of Mendel