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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

Behind the candy-striped jackets – oral history uncovers the unspoken

Thursday, February 23, 2017

David Kynaston delivers the 2017 National Life Stories Lecture

They Walk Alone – A Benjamin Britten discovery

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Benjamin Britten composing in Crantock, Cornwall 1936 [PH/1/30] Photo Lennox Berkeley, by permission of the Lennox Berkeley Estate Rob Smith, metadata support officer on the Save our Sounds project, alerted me to the fact that he had discovered a hitherto...

Recording of the week: Pierre Bourdieu and Terry Eagleton

Monday, February 20, 2017

This week's selection comes from Dr Eva del Rey, Curator of Drama and Literature Recordings and Digital Performance. In this recording, made in 1991 at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, British literary theorist Terry Eagleton discusses the intricacies...

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...

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