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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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 65,000 selections from the Library’s extensive collections of unique sound recordings.

Blog posts

Punk before punk: 'You're gonna wake up one morning...'

19 May 2016

The British Library's free punk exhibition is now open in the Entrance Hall. As well as books, journals, punk fanzines, and vinyl records from the collections of the British Library, we have borrowed a number of key items from the...

"It's easy old boy, it just sucks itself along like a vacuum cleaner." 75 years of British jet flight

13 May 2016

May 15th marks the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the Gloster-Whittle E.28/39 , Britain's first jet plane. At its heart was a revolutionary turbo-jet engine invented by Frank Whittle. An RAF pilot turned engineer, Whittle had patented a...

Marconi and the Lizard

10 May 2016

During the summer of 2015, the British Library, the National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland invited members of the public to record and share their favourite coastal sounds. Sounds of our Shores focused on the entire coastline of...

The Audio and Audio-Visual Academic Book of the Future - A Symposium

06 May 2016

In 2015 the British Library Sound Archive began working in collaboration with Academic Book of the Future to ascertain the current landscape of research utilising audio and audio-visual content. Forty-two researchers responded to our audio-visual academic book survey (you can...

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 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