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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

Celebrating 80 years of talking books

10 November 2015

The gathering of famous literary characters pictured above - I think that's Hercule Poirot at the back there - took place at the British Library on 5 November. It was organized by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)...

National Life Stories interviews used in new science teaching resources

03 November 2015

I have no memory of any teacher of science at my primary, middle or secondary school telling the class about a particular scientist. Or even about the work of science - the extent to which it was a field of...

Europeana Sounds Editathon

30 October 2015

As part of our Europeana Sounds project we will be holding an editathon at the British Library between 10am and 4pm on Saturday the 7th November, and would love you to join us. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12403504@N02/11002094234/ Europeana Sounds is a two year...

West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song

26 October 2015

The album cover for Fela Kuti’s ‘Sorrow Tears and Blood’, artwork courtesy of Lemi Ghariokwu, 1977 The British Library's major autumn exhibition, West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song, is now open to the public. It's an exciting show that brings to...

More blog posts

Sound 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

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.

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


International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives

International Bioacoustics Council

Responsible for the organisation of international conferences on the field of bioacoustices

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


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.