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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

Happy birthday H. G. Wells

21 September 2015

Born this day in 1866, H. G. Wells was a remarkably prolific writer across a range of formats and genres. His preserved recorded output is somewhat less voluminous, running to something over an hour of BBC broadcast talks, or fragments...

Listening Project Workshop

09 September 2015

Holly Gilbert writes: Join us on Monday 12 October at the British Library Conference Centre to reflect on the first three years of the Listening Project: an audio archive of conversations recorded by the BBC in which people are invited...

Waves, Skylarks and Halyards: the favourite seaside sounds of BBC coast presenters

08 September 2015

Everybody has a favourite coastal sound. That special sound that brings a smile to the face or a warm glow to the soul. For some it is the ever present sound of the sea while for others it's the song...

Surface Tension: a conversation with Rob St John part 2

01 September 2015

Last week we featured part 1 of a Q&A with writer, artist and composer Rob St John about his collaborative art / science project Surface Tension, an audiovisual work that explores pollution issues facing the River Lea. In the final...

More blog posts

Sound projects

National Life Stories

A unique and invaluable record of people’s lives in Britain today

National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

Artists’ lives and work in their own words

UK Sound Directory

The British Library is creating a directory of UK sound collections

Save our Sounds

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

Staff profiles

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

External links

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

Oral History Society

Dedicated to the collection and preservation of oral history


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.


british poets

British Poets: The Spoken Word

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


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.