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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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
Email: listening@bl.uk

Blog posts

Mátyás Seiber collection of recordings goes on line

27 August 2015

Seiber's own collection of recordings donated by his daughter Julia Seiber Boyd, the Matyas Seiber collection, has been digitised and put on line on BL Sounds. Mátyás György Seiber (1905-1960) was born in Budapest where he studied composition with Zoltan...

Surface Tension: a conversation with Rob St John part 1

25 August 2015

Rob St John is a writer, musician and artist who recently collaborated with the waterways charity Thames21 on Surface Tension, an audiovisual project highlighting the pollution issues currently facing the River Lea. Here Rob discusses the project and how he...

Two oral history fellowship opportunities

21 August 2015

National Life Stories, the oral history charitable trust based at the British Library, is pleased to announce that applications are now open for the National Life Stories Goodison Fellowships 2016. The aim of the Fellowships is to increase public knowledge...

World Athletics Championships

21 August 2015

The 15th World Athletics Championships are being held in Beijing’s iconic ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic stadium from 22-30th August. Britain currently lies in eight place on the overall medal table from the 14 previous events, and interviews with some of the...

More blog posts

Sound projects

National Life Stories

A unique and invaluable record of people’s lives in Britain today

National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

Artists’ lives and work in their own words

UK Sound Directory

The British Library is creating a directory of UK sound collections

Save our Sounds

Save our Sounds is our programme to preserve the nation’s sound heritage


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.