Help Finding World Music Recordings

Werner Josten Performing Arts Library

Ask at the service desk for a member of the permanent staff. Searching for music can be tricky and our most important job is to help you! (413) 585-2935 or

Search the Five College Library Catalog for World Music

Connect to the Five College Library Catalog. The default search is All Five Colleges - choose Smith to search all Smith libraries.


Click on Advanced (the second green tab).


Limit your search by Format:

From the Format dropdown menu near the bottom, select Sound Recordings.


Limit your search by Location:

From the Location dropdown menu, you may select an individual library.


Search for Keywords anywhere:

Enter specific, brief information about the score or recording from some or all of the following categories, depending on the kind of music:

Search Keyword Anywhere For... Examples
Composer, artist, or performer name Troilo, Liliana Barrios, Mamadou Diabate, Ravi Shankar
Style or instrument rai, merengue, hip-hop, shakuhachi, zheng
Country or geographic region Algeria, Puerto Rico, Japan, Africa, Akan
Search Tips

Use distinctive names and titles. More specific information can make a better search.

Use subject terms from the bibliographic record to broaden or refine your search.

If you don’t get any results, check your spelling.

Browse Josten World Music Recordings

Connect to the Five College Library Catalog. The default search is All Five Colleges - choose Smith to search all Smith libraries.

Choose Smith in Five College Library Catalog

On the Basic search tab, select the Call number begins with search.

In the search box, type in the start of a call number (e.g. ZF F-ML for Mali)

See How Call Numbers Work for World Music Recordings below for how to determine the call number to search.


The call number search will result in a list of recordings from your area in reverse chronological order.

Click on the name of the recording in the Item list for full details, then click on CLICK HERE FOR CALL NUMBERS AND AVAILABILITY.


The Location will tell you whether an item is on SC/Josten Reserve or not.


How Call Numbers Work for World Music Recordings

Example: CD ZF F-ML DIVA 1996 is the call number for a CD called Divas of Mali

  • For folk and traditional music, the first part of the call number is always ZF (for the purposes of searching by call number, ignore the CD that precedes ZF on CDs)
  • The second part is a letter code for geographical region (e.g. A=Asia, F=Africa, N=North America, S=South America, etc.). Codes are listed in MARC Georgraphic Area Codes.
  • Next there will be a dash followed by a two letter country code (the dash is important to remember if you are doing call number searches). The Regional Sequence of MARC Code Lists of Geographic Areas further subdivides by country, state, island, group, etc.
  • The last part of the call number (which might be quite long) will identify the unique disc.

You can click on the links above to get full lists of Geographic Area Codes and Regional codes. However, here are a few common ones to get you started:

Geographic Region Country Code
Asia (A) Afghanistan: ZF A-AF [+unique disc identifier]
China: ZF A-CC
India: ZF A-II
Indonesia: ZF A-IO
Iran: ZF A-IR
Japan: ZF A-JA
Pakistan: ZF A-PK
Africa (F) Algeria: ZF F-AE
Angola: ZF F-AO
Cameroon: ZF F-CM
Central African Republic: ZF F-CX
Ghana: ZF F-GH
Mali: ZF F-ML
Senegal: ZF F-SG
South Africa: ZF F-SA
Zimbabwe: ZF F-RH
South America (S) Bolivia: ZF S-BO
Brazil: ZF S-BL
Peru: ZF S-PE
North America (N) Mexico: ZF N-MX
Some older scores and recordings in the Josten Library collection still require a search of the card catalog (first floor near the service desk) for complete results.

Ask a staff member! Finding scores and recordings may not be straightforward. Ask at service desk for a permanent staff member, call (413) 585-2935, or Ask a Josten Librarian