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Resource Review highlights ZSR Library resources and offers insider tips and best practices for their use. This month’s featured resource is Smithsonian Global Sound, presented by Leslie McCall, our Cataloging Librarian and music specialist.

Smithsonian Global Sound is an online database of audio resources from the collections of the Smithsonian and other archives around the world.  The core collection is the Folkways label, whose mission, from the 1940s to the 1980s, was “to record and document the entire world of sound.” Besides the folk music for which it is renowned, Folkways also produced spoken-word and documentary recordings, included in this database, that are relevant to many fields of study – literature and languages; education and children’s literature; history and politics; sociology, women’s and gender studies; anthropology and area studies; classical studies; and religion studies.  Here is a sampling of the content:

History and Politics

Literature and Languages


Education and Children’s Literature

Social Sciences


The database is produced in partnership with Alexander Street Press, from whom we also have Classical Music Library, Filmakers Library Online, Theatre in Video, and American Song. The interface offers search facets for genres, topics, places, and communities, as well as advanced search capabilities; also functionality for creating clips and compiling playlists. Selections can be permalinked, embedded, emailed, shared, or sent to a mobile device. Liner notes are downloadable.

We invite you to explore Smithsonian Global Sound, for compelling primary-source material that can enrich almost any syllabus or research project!