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 onsite 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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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 will need a Reader Pass. Over 200,000 digital tracks are available for instant access without an appointment, though you may have to make an appointment to listen to some sounds.

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

British Library Sounds offers free online access to 80,000 selections from the Library’s extensive collections of unique sound recordings.

Blog posts

Cry ‘God for Harry! England! and Saint George!’

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Embed from Getty Images Although I am curator of Classical recordings at the British Library, I have a fascination with the oldest extant examples of both sound recordings and photographs. Both are a window, albeit sometimes very misty, allowing us...

Live Art in the UK: Lois Keidan interview - part 2

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lois Keidan is co-founder and co-director of the Live Art Development Agency (LADA), an organization based in London dedicated to the support and promotion of live art in the UK and abroad. This is part two of an interview with...

Recording of the week: Akabira for flute ensemble

Monday, April 17, 2017

This week's selection comes from Tom Miles, Metadata Manager and Curator of Europeana Music. This song, "Akabira", was recorded by Klaus Wachsmann in Kasule, Uganda, in 1954. Nshegu is the name given to an ensemble of flute players: the five...

Live Art in the UK: Lois Keidan interview - part 1

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Lois Keidan is co-founder and co-director of the Live Art Development Agency (LADA), an organization based in London dedicated to the support and promotion of live art in the UK and abroad. The British Library’s long relationship with LADA has...

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

The Future of Radio

This 2016 project investigated the future of radio and radio archives.

All projects

Case studies

…The archival material provides fascinating insights…

Christian is evaluating the archival material of Dutch ethnomusicologist Arnold Adriaan Bake.

…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.

…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.

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 bioacoustics

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 poets

British Poets: The Spoken Word

From Alfred, Lord Tennyson to Ted Hughes, hear some of the greatest British poets reading from their own work.

£15

white humlan

White Humlan Headphones

Humlan comes with all the listening essentials, like a tangle-free cord, built-in mic/remote, and a Zound Plug for instant music sharing.

£40

black sumpan

Black Sumpan Earphones

This lightweight earbud gives a dependable fit when you’re listening, and hangs neatly around your neck (or in a pocket) when you’re not.

£25