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Cinema & media studies collection

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Collection description

The Libraries began to collect video systematically in 1999, when MMETS, until then the University's primary film repository, transferred most of its holdings - about 1,000 VHS tapes - to the Libraries. For the next several years the Libraries only added to this rudimentary collection in response to faculty and student request, primarily because key faculty positions in the program had not yet been filled. Also it seemed prudent not to acquire actively during a time of transition, when technology was shifting from VHS tape to DVD. Eventually, the Libraries began to build a core collection of classic films, working with faculty and from lists such as those provided by the American Film Institute and, for foreign films, the Facets catalog.

With the gift of the collection of the Temple University film scholar William F. Van Wert, donated to the Libraries by his family in 2004, the University acquired a valuable resource for the study of contemporary, avant-garde, and independent film, comprising many thousands of rare tapes, in addition to hundreds of commercial videotapes and DVDs.

The University of Pennsylvania Libraries maintain the following distinct film collections: Van Pelt general collections (closed circulation), Van Wert Collection (including the dark archive at LIBRA), Rosengarten Reserve, Ormandy Collection, Harvey Sheldon Jewish American Music Video Research Library, Fine Arts Library, University Museum Library. Additionally, some academic departments and programs have their own media collections (e.g., Cinema & Media Studies, History, Gender, Sexuality & Women's Studies). Penn Libraries' DVDs and video collections are accessible via Franklin.

Links to special collections will go here if they exist.
Links to policies will go here if they exist.

Doing research

Research guides

Cinema & Media Studies - Research Guide


Film Index International  |  Film & Television Literature Index  |  FIAF International Index to Film Periodicals  |  JSTOR  |  Communication Source  |  Entertainment Industry Magazine Archive  |  Media History Digital Library  |  More databases in Cinema & Media Studies

Reference works

Major journals


There are many more databases, reference works, academic journals and resources that could be useful for your research beyond what can be listed above. If you are interested in identifying other potentially sources for your research, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Charles Cobine directly by email at cobine@upenn.edu, or schedule an appointment:

Schedule an appointment with Charles