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Collections: Humanities

Where can I find the latest country music videos?
How can I learn to speak Japanese?
Where can I find out the differences between Methodists and Lutherans?

From music performances and language learning to religious dialogues, many digital collections feature audio and video sources.

Humanities Information Sources

Humanities is a collection of disciplines that explore humans and their culture. The area includes visual arts, performing arts, biography, literature, film and television, philosophy, religion, and related areas.

How are audio and video used in the humanities?


YouTube provides video channels focused on news topics such as Sports News. YouTube also has channels focusing on topics such as architecture.

Documentaries and Field Video

The Shakespeare's Globe YouTube channel takes viewers behind-the-scenes at The Globe Theatre in the UK.

Tutorials and Demonstrations

From language learning tutorials to "how to" videos, many areas of humanities offer multimedia learning materials. For instance there are thousands of videos showing how to draw. The Drawing Art Academy YouTube channel provides excerpts. Full programs are available for a fee.

Read Tewell, Eamon (Fall 2010). Video tutorials in academic art libraries: a content analysis and review. Art Documentation, 29(2), 53-61.

Performances, Presentations and Programs

In the performing arts, sports, and other event-based activities, on-demand video subscriptions are sometimes available. For instance, the National Football League provides access to all of the games through a subscription. The Metropolitan Opera provides on-demand access to their operas.

Interviews and Profiles

Many organizational sites contain interviews with well-known people in the discipline. For instance, The New School of Commonwealth has an audio and video library featuring U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, visionary writer Terry Tempest Williams and others. National Public Radio: Interviews provides audio programs focusing on authors, celebrities, and scholars.

Public Service Announcements

Both audio and video public service announcements are available in the area of humanities. They may advocate for literacy or encourage church attendence. For instance, the Church of Scientology has a series of Public Service Messages based on their 21 precepts. The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) produced PSAs on a variety of topics on YouTube.

Archives and Research

Scholars in many areas are interested in historical materials related to their topic. For instance, The Great Parchment Book is a video in the area of digital humanities.

smallAnnette's Reflection
When I traveled to Japan a decade ago, I used a CD tutorial to try to learn Japanese. I wasn't very successful.

Today audio, video, and interactive media can be used for language learning. Mango Learning subscriptions and Rosetta Stone software are found in lots of libraries.

Audio and Video in the Library

Audio, video, and interactive collections are an important part of most academic, school, and public library collections.

Art, performing arts, language learning, and literature are all areas of the K-12 curriculum of interest in school libraries. Sports is a good area for school librarians to connect with coaches and physical education teachers. Help them find videos related to sports training, drills, etc.

From audio interpretation of artwork to video montage, art librarians work with audio and video materials regularly.

Music librarians must access a wide range of audio materials on different subjects. In addition to the resources on this page, seek out digital collections from university libraries, museums, and performance organizations.

Church librarians often use audio and video materials. Many religious organizations have media focusing on religious messages that can be useful in church libraries. For instance, the LDS Media Library contains hundreds of media materials. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir website contains a video gallery available through their YouTube channel. The website of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet contains short webcasts along with longer public talks, dialogues, addresses, speeches, and teachings.


Audio recordings are an important source of information across the humanities. From podcasts to audiobooks, many options are available.

Music plays an important role in many areas of humanities. Diane Rasmussen Neal (2012, 7) notes that

“music information retrieval research centers on similarities of musical content… These methods, however do not address semantic, iconic, or other facets that are emotionally or intellectually meaningful to the user.”

Most of the systems that index user-generated music content focus on genre (.e., classical, pop) as the primary mode of categorization. Jason Neal notes that “even recommender systems, which utilize other measures to determine similarity, give the appearance of drawing upon genre” (Neal, 2012, 15). He suggests that alternative traits could be used to judge similarity of music. Having studied services like Pandora and last.fm, Neal notes that it’s important to use the many attributes that these services use in additional genre to better understand and classify music. He concludes that

“the literature on alternatives to genre-based classification, such as tagging, considers other musical aspects that may resonate more deeply with users of MIR systems, such as mood, emotion, and context. Literature on music and cognition, as well as analyses of cross-genre inclinations among musicians and listeners, would provide useful guides for creating systems that could more easily match music with individual traits, and possibly foster the development of unforeseen online music communities” (Neal, 2012, 32).

Subscription-based Audio Services

Many of the ProQuest, EBSCOhost, and Gale subscription databases contain audio and video clips. Do an advanced search focusing on your topic of interest.

Online Music Streaming

In the past, many music streaming services were free such as Pandora. Ads have been added to many services. Ads free subscription services such as Amazon Prime Music and iTunes Music are increasing in popularity.


Podcasts can be found across content areas.

Podcasts are often associated with organizations or periodicals. For instance, PhilosophyNow is a podcast connected with the popular magazine.

Church-related podcasts are particularly popular. Do a Google Search for a particular religion or denomination for specifics. Luthern Hour Ministries or Reform Judaism are examples. Also look for popular spiritual leaders such as Joel Osteen's Ministries Podcasts.

When seeking podcasts, look for areas with logical connections to audio such as literature and language. For instance, the Poetry Foundation has a podcast. Examples of language learning podcasts are below:

Explore Podbay's lists for ideas: Art, Music, Religion and Spirituality, Television and Film, and Sports and Recreation.

Online Audio Access

Archives often have an option to search by audio recording. Go to the Advanced Search area of most digital collections and locate the formats available for the search.

Online Poetry


Video recordings can be found across the humanities particularly in the areas of dance, film, and theatre.


Alexander Street Press

TeachingBooks.net. Available through IUPUI and Inspire. This database is designed to provide youth and adults information about books for children and young adults.

Open Access

Although many websites provide access to video, YouTube is the most popular.

Read at least one for the articles below:

Dougan, Kirstin (July 2014). “YouTube Has Changed Everything”? Music Faculty, Librarians, and Their Use and Perceptions of YouTube. College & Research Libraries, 75(4), 575-589.

Homenda, Nick (2011). Music libraries on YouTube. Music Reference Services Quarterly, 14, 30-45. Available through IUPUI.

Visual Arts


Video Teaching and Learning Materials

Video Resources

Film and Television Study


Video Resources



Video Teaching and Learning Resources

Video Resources

Linguistics and Languages


Videos for Teaching and Learning

Video Resources

Performing Arts


Videos for Teaching and Learning

Video Resources

Music Video Sources

Search YouTube for any song title or artist and you'll find a video. Many videos are ad-based. It's also useful for information about musical instruments. Also check out popular music channels and resources.

Philosophy and Religion

Most of the websites for major religions as well as demoninations have audio and video libraries. Many also have YouTube channels. The United Methodist Church YouTube channel is an example.


Video Sources


Many of the sports teams stream audio and video of their sporting events. Television stations include ESPN and organizations include NFL. In addition, most teams have their own YouTube Channels. Vimeo has a sports category.

Most recordings of events are restricted, so it's best to go directly to the source. Also, many high schools and colleges provide streaming options for sporting events.


readTry It!
Select a topic within the humanities. Explore the resources provided. Also, conduct your own searches. State the topic and information need. Then, share a photograph, infographic, other image of your choice, audio, AND video all related to the same topic (or general area). You can share the actual media document or a link. How do they each provide a different perspective on the topic.


Explore interactives in the humanities.

Art Interactives

English Interactives

Language Interactives

Subscriptions such as Mango Learning are popular in public libraries.

Music Interactives

Mobile Apps

While mobile apps aren't as popular in the humanities as they are in other disciplines, there are a growing number of apps.

Language and Linguistics. Mobile apps are very popular in the area of language including language translation and education programs.

Literature. Many works of literature have been expanded to include analysis, interpretation, and tool features. They may also contain social media and multimedia features.

Music and Performing Arts Apps. Apps can be found in the area of live performance, education and how-tos, and reference sources. Music discovery apps are also popular, however many of these have in-app sales to get users to purchase music. Music production tools allow users to create and remix music.

Philosophy and Religion Apps. Many apps are available for sacred texts related to specific religions such as the Bible. While some of these apps just contain the text, others provide audio and video analysis and interpretation. Many apps are focused on works to encourage children to participate in religion.

TouchPress is known for their outstanding humanities apps including Beethoven's 9th SymphonyThe Orchestra, and Liszt Sonata in B Minor. T.S. Eliot Waste Land is an analysis of this famous work. Seamus Heaney: Five FablesWar Horse, and Shakespeare's Sonnets are other examples in the area of literature. Apprentice Architect for kids is another example. In the area of art, check out Leonardo da Vinci Anatomy.

readTry It!
Go to TouchPress. Explore their outstanding commercial apps.
You don't need to purchase an app, but be sure to watch one of their videos to get a sense for the contents.

Government Mobile Apps

Below are examples of government produced mobile apps available through iTunes. Many of these apps are also available for other operating systems. Go to US Government Mobile Apps for a master list.

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