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Locating Films at Columbia University

Films held in the Columbia Libraries are primarily VHS, Laserdisc and DVD formats.

Locate films in CLIO by using the following suggested searches:

Enter the title and select “Title Search”
Use the Quick Limit “Video Recordings”

You can use the author search for director, producer, screenwriter, actors (generally principal actors)
Note: Quick Limit does not apply to this search

Use keyword if you recall only a part of the title or if you want to pair a director and title
Use the Quick Limit “Video Recordings”
Example: kurosawa samurai dvd

Browse film titles:
A useful search for browsing is subject heading search.
You can browse a listing of all of our feature films, documentary films, foreign language films.

Here are a few subject headings :

  • Feature films
  • Foreign films
  • Documentary films
  • Comedy films
  • Historical films
  • Horror films

For foreign language films:
Subject headings include:

  • motion pictures, spanish (or any applicable language)


  • Use the “Pre-Select Limits” option to select a language, e.g., “Spanish”
    Perform a keyword search on the word “films”
    Select the Quick Limit “Video Recordings”

    Perform a keyword search for the word “videorecording”
    Narrow your search by adding additional keywords: “videorecording and

Locating Journal and Magazine Articles

An excellent start for locating journal and magazine articles is to use an index or bibliography. Columbia University Libraries subscribe to hundreds of journal indexes that are available online. There are several that concentrate on indexing all of the major publications in the area of film studies.

Link to the Film and Television Guide for a selected list. FIAF and Film and Television Literature Index are the best for completing a comprehensive search of the major journals in film studies. Depending on your topic, you may also search indexes that cover major disciplines such as American history, philosophy, religion, anthropology, etc.

Locating Books in Film Studies at Columbia University

To begin, use CLIO our online catalog. You can search by title, author, subject or keyword. If you know the title or author, this is the most direct method for identifying if we have the book in our collections.

You can search for works on films, genres, history, theory, criticism, directors, producers, and actors.

There are two best methods for searching by topic or subject–keyword and searching by subject heading.

Keyword is a powerful search. Use this to combine multiple topics that you think best describe what you are looking for. Read through “Search Tips” located at the bottom of the CLIO screen for the most effective keyword searches.
Example: cinema attractions
This keyword search will look for the terms cinema and attractions anywhere in the bibliographic record.

Another useful strategy for searching by topic or subject is to use the Library of Congress Subject Headings. This controlled vocabulary needs getting used to but can be very helpful for finding the most works on your topic.

You should know that the recognized subject heading for films is motion pictures. Try entering motion pictures and select subject headings for your search term. Take a look at the long list of entries and subdivisions.

Here are a few examples:
motion pictures — aesthetics
motion pictures — africa
motion pictures — plots, themes
motion pictures — political aspects
motion pictures — production and direction

For materials not held at Columbia, you can request books through Interlibrary Loan or BorrowDirect.