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    Our vast collection includes commercial discs, tapes of radio broadcasts, and rare or unpublished recordings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

How to …

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

The Coronation of George II and Queen Caroline

11 October 2015

On 11 October 1727 George II and his wife Caroline of Ansbach were crowned King and Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. The ceremony at Westminster Abbey was preceded by a magnificent procession. Part of an engraving of George II’s...

Surface Tension: a conversation with Rob St John part 1

25 August 2015

Rob St John is a writer, musician and artist who recently collaborated with the waterways charity Thames21 on Surface Tension, an audiovisual project highlighting the pollution issues currently facing the River Lea. Here Rob discusses the project and how he...

Medieval Music Mash-Up

18 August 2015

Every year there is always that one song (you either love or hate) that seems to take over the summer months. Friday night’s episode of The One Show featured the earliest known English song of the summer, which is found...

Happy Uncommon Musical Instrument Appreciation Day!

31 July 2015

As we are sure you are all aware, today is Uncommon Musical Instrument Appreciation Day, the day on which we are urged to take time to think about the rare and unusual instruments that have gone obsolete, or are otherwise...

More blog posts


Sanctus: Music for Contemplation (audio CD)

Sanctus: Music for Contemplation (audio CD)

Haunting and evocative words and music that bring us echoes from the world of the monks of Lindisfarne, the Saxon monastery on Holy Island off Northumbria, with early English church music and Northumbrian pipes.


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, from band music for changing the guard to Lloyd Webber in theatre land, and from soaring church music to popular songs from the East End.


Music for book lovers

Music for Book Lovers

These works are interspersed with characterful pieces which reflect a quiet mood or a scene from nature.