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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

Recording of the week: Amy Johnson and the race to Australia

Monday, May 22, 2017

This week's selection comes from Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife and Environmental Sounds. On 24th May 1930, a worn and weathered de Havilland Gipsy Moth named Jason crashlanded into the dusty red soil of Australia's Northern Territory. On board was...

The Sound Recordings of Arnold Adriaan Bake at the British Library: A treasure trove of South Asian music

Friday, May 19, 2017

This is the second blog from World and Traditional Music highlighting collections at the British Library from India, as part of the 2017 UK-India Year of Culture 19th May 1899 is the birth date of Dutch ethnomusicologist Arnold Adriaan Bake...

Recording of the Week: a musical family

Monday, May 15, 2017

This week's selection comes from Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music Recordings. Jacob Collier has been creating a stir in the musical world recently, winning two Grammys in February at the age of twenty-two. His grandfather Derek made his first...

Recording of the week: Parental warning

Monday, May 8, 2017

This week's selection comes from Andrea Zarza, Curator of World and Traditional Music. Ethnomusicologist Bryony Harris (née Pearson) spent 2002 doing field work in Uganda to record the drumming styles of the Busoga and Buganda as part of research for...

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