Database of the Month: MLA International Bibliography

Of all the databases the Bentley Library subscribes to, MLA International Bibliography is the most comprehensive when it comes to literature and related fields. Its over 2 million records provide citation information and abstracts for research in areas such as:

  • rhetoric and composition
  • teaching of literature
  • teaching of language
  • folklore
  • history of publishing
  • literary theory and criticism
  • dramatic arts (including television, film, radio, and theater)

Its records include articles, books, book chapters, dissertation abstracts, and even websites (more on that later). While mostly in English, MLA also includes research from other countries in over 70 other languages, and provides coverage back to 1923.

The CSA search platform offers a powerful advanced search; zero in on exactly what you need by searching several different fields, including:  scholarly approach, literary genre, time period, influence, and literary theme (e.g., subjects like “gender conflict” or geographic places). MLA allows you to distinguish between the author of an article, and the author about which an article is written; the same applies to language (e.g., an article written about Spanish, in English).

Another very useful feature of MLA International Bibliography is its inclusion of websites. Websites go through the same rigorous selection process as all the other resources in the database, so it’s easy to generate a list of reliable websites on a particular topic. When searching, scroll all the way down and check off the box “websites only.” Here’s an example of a “websites only” search for the words “Harlem Renaissance.”

While MLA International Bibliography serves mainly as an index, it’s easy to discover if Bentley has access to a resource by clicking “Check for Journal in another Bentley database.” It also links easily to Interlibrary Loan and exports to Refworks. You can also create a desktop shortcut (look at the bottom of the search screen) to search MLA International Bibliography directly from your desktop.

Further information about this database may be found on MLA’s website:

Connect to this database:

Please visit MLA International Bibliography to explore this valuable database further – on the CSA landing page, click “Specific Databases,” and make sure that only the box next to “MLA International Bibliography” is checked. Visit our Databases page to view a complete list of our resources.

Database of the Month provides a very brief introduction to an important research database, highlighting key features of the database that you should know about. If you would like more information about this database (or any of the library’s databases) please contact the Reference Desk.  If you would like a demonstration of this database for a class, please contact our Coordinator of User Education, Elizabeth Galoozis.