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    Our vast collection includes commercial discs, tapes of radio broadcasts, and rare or unpublished recordings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

Sir Neville Marriner – an interview

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Photo by Werner Bethsold (CC BY-SA 4.0) When Neville Marriner died on 2nd October at the age of 92, it made me think of the time that I visited his home with Norman Lebrecht to interview him for the British...

A Reputation Restored – Mark Hambourg live recording discovered

Monday, September 19, 2016

In the last two months I have pursued and acquired five collections of rare classical audio material for the British Library one of which held a rare treasure. When I received a call from a gentleman aged 82 offering his...

I was there when Jäki licked Iggy Pop’s leg: Punk in Germany

Friday, September 16, 2016

Gudrun Gut, drummer and bassist in German punk bands such as Din-A Testbild, Einstürzende Neubauten, Mania D. and Malaria, says she was there when Jäki Eldorado (née Hildisch) — ‘Germany’s first punk’ — licked Iggy Pop’s leg during a Stooges...

Restoring the first recording of computer music

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Fig. 1: Jack Copeland and Jason Long Jack Copeland FRS NZ and Jason Long write: A key problem facing audio archivists is how to establish the correct pitch of a historical recording. Without some independent means of knowing how the...

More blog posts


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.