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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

Europeana Sounds second editathon!

Friday, September 23, 2016

As part of our Europeana Sounds project we will be holding our second wildlife sounds editathon at the British Library between 10am and 4pm on Saturday the 8th October. Join us on a sound safari, as we explore the sound...

The Future of Radio - a special British Library podcast

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Where are the current trends in radio and online audio leading to? What will radio be, and what might it sound (and look) like in its 2022 centenary year and beyond? Some leading figures in UK radio today, with very...

‘It’s in the detail of a handrail… it’s in how the building is put together.’

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Last weekend, thousands of people visited London buildings as part of Open House 2016. In this blog, oral history project interviewer Niamh Dillon shares the stories of two architects who designed some of these iconic buildings. ‘It’s in the detail...

A Reputation Restored – Mark Hambourg live recording discovered

Monday, September 19, 2016

In the last two months I have pursued and acquired five collections of rare classical audio material for the British Library one of which held a rare treasure. When I received a call from a gentleman aged 82 offering his...

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

This AHRC-funded project 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