Digital Audio Collection

Digital Audio Collection

The Digital Audio Collection aims to preserve a broad spectrum of sounds to reflect the UK’s audio publishing industry.

Published date:

Background

Until recently, published sound has been acquired by the British Library as physical objects, via voluntary deposit agreements with record labels. However, the transition to file-based distribution, coupled with the emergence of many different platforms and services offering sound recordings, requires a different approach. 

Part of the Save our Sounds programme, the Digital Audio Collection project is designed to address this. Its primary aim is to acquire, for long term preservation and access, a broad coverage of audio to create a representative document of the UK’s audio publishing, underpinned by widespread voluntary deposit arrangements. 

The project

To achieve this, the project has the following objectives:

  1. Developing an integrated digital music acquisition system. This will deliver a largely automated service for high-volume file-based releases from the traditional industry’s digital supply chain, as well as a manual submission mechanism for smaller-scale file-based published output. 
  2. Developing models for engaging with record and audio industry bodies, companies, labels, producers and artists to increase reach for voluntary deposit.
  3. Engaging with external stakeholders for exchange of knowledge and experience in relation to metadata.

While the project focuses on file-based output, it recognises the need to continue acquiring physical items. For example, CDs, vinyl and compact cassettes continue to be released in the file-based context and many of these physical releases offer added value through detailed notes and special packaging.

Furthermore, while the project concerns the UK audio industry and ‘published’ output, it recognises that the Library will continue to acquire international publications, as well as acquiring and creating file-based unique or ‘unpublished’ recordings. Collection overviews are available on our Sound subject page.

The project began officially in October 2015 with an analysis of the UK’s recording industry landscape.

Projects

Save our Sounds

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

National Radio Archive

We aim to create a digital radio archive which will preserve a representative proportion of ongoing UK radio output.

Directory of UK Sound Collections

The British Library has created a directory of UK sound collections

Unlocking Our Sound Heritage

Unlocking our Sound Heritage is a UK-wide project that will help save the nation’s sounds and open them up to everyone.

All projects

Blog posts

Open House 2018 – Alexandra Road Estate, Camden

Friday, September 21, 2018

This weekend is Open House and one of the highlights is the Alexandra Road Estate, which features heavily in the British Library oral history collections.

Seeing sound: What is a spectrogram?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Greg Green, Audio Project Cataloguer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage writes: In this digital age, most of us are familiar with audio waveforms, the ‘wavy’ images that represent the dynamic course of a particular sound recording. Waveforms are in fact...

Recording of the week: Whistling to the bujɔk - Batek fishing techniques

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Coleridge Research Fellow Dr Alice Rudge writes: The Batek are a hunting and gathering people who dwell in the lowland rainforests of Peninsular Malaysia. When visiting recently, I accompanied Batek friends on a fishing trip and was taught some new...

Mary Jane Long

Friday, September 14, 2018

MJ Long, who died recently, was one of the key architects of the British Library. She was interviewed interviewed by Jill Lever for Architects' Lives in 1997-98.

More blog posts