The British Library has a world-famous collection of printed and manuscript music, music recordings, concert programmes and books and periodicals on music.

Collection guides

  • John Taverner, Mass 'The western wynde'Add. 17803, ff. 23v-24r

    Music manuscripts and archives

    We hold a world class collection of manuscripts dating from the middle ages to the present day
  • Afton Water part 04

    Printed music

    Material published in every European country, from the beginnings of music printing to the present day
  • pop record

    Music recordings

    Our vast collection includes commercial discs, tapes of radio broadcasts, and rare or unpublished recordings
  • Metropolitan Opera House

    Classical music recordings

    Recordings in the western concert tradition, opera, liturgical music, and the pre-Baroque repertories of Western Europe
  • Nathan King

    Pop music recordings

    We hold one of the most wide-ranging collections of popular music in the world
  • Albert Steward (fiddle) and unidentified accordionist with other Stewart family members.

    World and traditional music collection

    We hold one of the world's largest collections of recordings variously described as traditional, folk or world music
Reading Room  Paul Grundy

Rare Books and Music

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic journals
  • Order collection items to the Reading Room via our catalogues

You’ll need a Reader Pass

Mon 10.00 – 20.00
Tue – Thu 09.30 – 20.00
Fri – Sat 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays closed

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

We offer a series of workshops to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

For enquiries, please contact the Reference Service

Blog posts

They Walk Alone – A Benjamin Britten discovery

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Benjamin Britten composing in Crantock, Cornwall 1936 [PH/1/30] Photo Lennox Berkeley, by permission of the Lennox Berkeley Estate Rob Smith, metadata support officer on the Save our Sounds project, alerted me to the fact that he had discovered a hitherto...

Introducing British Library Music Collections

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Earlier this month, British Library staff held a special open day aimed at doctoral music students. The programme included presentations on printed music, music manuscripts and sound recordings. There was also a chance to chat to curators and to see...

British Library Music Cataloguing Vacancy

Monday, February 13, 2017

A vacancy has arisen for a Music Cataloguer in the Content and Metadata Processing Team at the British Library, St Pancras. Please visit www.bl.uk/careers for further information and to apply. The closing date is midnight on 26 February 2017. The...

Recording of the week: John Blackwood McEwen

Monday, February 13, 2017

This week's selection comes from Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music Recordings. Scottish composer Sir John Blackwood McEwen (1868-1948) had a distinguished career producing a large amount of music, little of which is heard today. He was Principal of the...

More blog posts

Case studies

…The research I did as an Edison Fellow at the British Library was invaluable for my PhD…

Alexis Bennett researched 1930s British film music as an Edison Fellow at the British Library.

…My work as an Edison Fellow has profoundly changed my thoughts on music making…

Pianist Marisa Gupta uses historical sound recordings to inform her chamber music performances.