Our sound collections feature over 1 million discs, 185,000 tapes, and many other sound and video recordings from all over the world.

Collection guides

Listening and Viewing Service box

Listening and Viewing Service

The Listening and Viewing Service provides free public access to our collection of recorded sound and video.

Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.

We can also provide access to archived BBC Radio broadcasts.

Mon - Thu: 10.00 - 20.00
Fri - Sat: 10.00 - 17.00
Sun and English Public Holidays: closed

You’ll need a Reader Pass and have to make an appointment.

T: +44 (0)20 7412 7418
F: +44 (0)20 7412 7441

For enquiries, please contact the Reference Service

Blog posts

War, propaganda and Skye terriers - The Francis Chagrin collection of sound recordings

04 February 2016

Alexis Bennett is an Edison Fellow at the British Library Sound Archive, and is currently completing his PhD in music at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is also Associate Lecturer. He is also a composer and performer. Here he...

Audiovisual archives and the Web

29 January 2016

This is the text of a talk I gave on 29 January 2016 at the Institute of Historical Research's 'The Production of the Archive' conference. The conference sought to "bring together historians, archivists and scholars from other cognate disciplines to...

Cecil Parkinson - Tory Architect of Electricity Privatisation (1931-2016)

26 January 2016

The death of Lord Cecil Parkinson, brings to an end a remarkable political life. From humble roots he became a political high flyer, party chairman, architect of the Conservative 1983 election victory, and a likely successor to Margaret Thatcher as...

The British space story

15 December 2015

Today UK astronaut Tim Peake will head for the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, the first British member of the European Space Agency’s astronaut corps. In the twenty-first century British ambitions in space are firmly concentrated on...

More blog posts

Projects

Save our Sounds

Save our Sounds is our programme to preserve the nation’s sound heritage

Directory of UK Sound Collections

The British Library has created a directory of UK sound collections

Edison Fellowships

We offer fellowships to encourage the study of classical music sound recordings

Opening Up Speech Archives

An AHRC-funded project that studied the use of speech recognition technologies

Library experts

Rob Perks

Lead Curator, Oral History & Director of National Life Stories

Jonnie Robinson

Lead Curator, Spoken English

Mary Stewart

Curator, Oral History, and Deputy Director of National Life Stories

Stephen Cleary

Lead Curator, Literary and Creative Recordings

More staff members

External links

The British Library is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Association of Independent Music

The collective voice of the UK's independent music industry

British Phonographic Industry

Represents the UK’s major record companies and more than 300 independents

IASA

International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives

International Bioacoustics Council

Responsible for the organisation of international conferences on the field of bioacoustices

Oral History Society

Dedicated to the collection and preservation of oral history

Wildlife Sound Recording Society

International society dedicated to recording the sounds of the natural world

Shop

british bird sounds

British Bird: Sounds on CD

A collection of fascinating British bird sounds can be found on this CD, a perfect gift or reference point for birdwatchers and wildlife lovers.

£16

british poets

British Poets: The Spoken Word

30 poets are included, each reading from their own work, often with their own spoken introductions.

£20

writing life

The Writing Life: Authors Speak

British authors as you've never heard them before feature in this widely acclaimed set of two CDs.

£16