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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

News

Applications invited for Edison Fellowships

22 September 2016

Are you interested in researching the history of classical music recordings?

More news stories

Blog posts

Leafscape: an exhibition

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Botanical artist Jess Shepherd has spent the past few years immersed in the world of leaves, both from a visual and sonic point of view. In this special guest post, Jess writes about how field recording became an intrinsic part...

Recording of the week: John Blackwood McEwen

Monday, February 13, 2017

This week's selection comes from Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music Recordings. Scottish composer Sir John Blackwood McEwen (1868-1948) had a distinguished career producing a large amount of music, little of which is heard today. He was Principal of the...

2017 UK-India Year of Culture: Praise music of Rāṛh, India

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

2017 is the UK-India Year of Culture. It marks the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and, through a varied programme of projects and events – led by the Ministry of Culture in India, the Nehru Centre and other Indian cultural...

Recording of the week: Linton Kwesi Johnson on dub poet Michael Smith

Monday, February 6, 2017

This week's selection comes from Stephen Cleary, Lead Curator of Literary & Creative Recordings. In this recording, poet and reggae artist Linton Kwesi Johnson gives a lecture on the late Jamaican performance poet Mikey Smith (1954-1983), author of 'Me Cyaan...

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 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.

…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.

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 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