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 wonderful 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    Our vast collection includes commercial discs, tapes of radio broadcasts, and rare or unpublished recordings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

Passionate music from a hot country: a musical visit to Iraq-Kurdistan

23 August 2016

The British Library's World and Traditional Music section supported ethnomusicologist, Rolf Killius, on a field trip to record music in Iraq-Kurdistan over June/July 2016. This is his report. Rugged Mountains in Kurdistan. Photo Rolf Killius, 2016 It is hot. No,...

Passionate music from a hot country: a musical visit to Iraq-Kurdistan

23 August 2016

The British Library's World and Traditional Music section supported ethnomusicologist, Rolf Killius, on a field trip to record music in Iraq-Kurdistan over June/July 2016. This is his report. Rugged Mountains in Kurdistan. Photo Rolf Killius, 2016 It is hot. No,...

Nicola Matteis and his Ayrs for the Violin

23 August 2016

Researching for my recent blog post (http://blogs.bl.uk/music/2016/08/music-printing-in-england-1650-1700-and-the-british-library.html), I came across a number of volumes that initially caused me great confusion: there were a total of twelve shelf marks at the British Library associated with a smaller number of different titles,...

Zine but not heard: printed ephemera and research

21 July 2016

by Fearghus Roulston, PHD student working on the British Library's zine collections The British Library’s Punk 1976-1978 exhibition, marking punk’s 40th anniversary, hits some familiar and satisfying beats. Malcom McLaren as Situationist svengali; the Sex Pistols as trend-setting provocateurs; the...

More blog posts

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Fela Kuti Vinyl Boxset

Fela Kuti Vinyl Boxset curated by Brian Eno

Limited to 2000 pieces. These seven albums were chosen by long-time admirer, Brian Eno.

Music for London (audio CD)

Music for London (audio CD)

A musical tour of London, with an atmospheric piece of music for each major site. The CD provides a fine reminder of a great city.

Music in Exile by Songhoy Blues

Music in Exile by Songhoy Blues

Songhoy Blues are a familiar proposition: four young men, guitar, drums, bass and vocals, driving rhythms, big hearts and a story to tell.