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Consulting music at the British Library

Information for researchers on where to consult music and music-related material.

Printed scores and music manuscripts and archives dating from after the year 1500 are made available to researchers in the Rare Books & Music Reading Room

Music manuscripts dating from 1500 or earlier are consulted in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Most books and journals on music can be consulted in the Humanities Reading Rooms or the Rare Books & Music Reading Room. Material dating from before 1851 is read in the Rare Books & Music Reading Room. 

The Sound Archive Listening and Viewing Service makes music recordings and videos available in the Rare Books & Music Reading Room. A growing collection of material can be heard on SoundServer, a self-operated service available at selected desks in the Humanities Reading Room - Floor 2, and Rare Books & Music Reading Room.

Music reference books are available in the Rare Books & Reading Room (dictionaries, research guides and biographies of classical composers, plus collected editions of the major composers' works) and Humanities Reading Room - Floor 2 (music periodicals, discographies and books on recording, jazz, popular music and world music).

Electronic resources on music can be accessed via internet terminals in the Reading Rooms.

Please see the Library's reader registration page for information on applying for a reader's pass to consult material in the British Library's Reading Rooms.


Music Collections
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7772
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7751

E-mail: Ask the Music Reference Team