Digital Audio Collection

View of a bookshelf

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Library will continue to acquire international publications, as well as acquiring and creating file-based unique or ‘unpublished’ recordings.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.

Blog posts

Recording of the week: Dog team or engine power? Sleds and other subjects in 1940s Alaska

Monday, October 4, 2021

This week's selection comes from George Brierley, Audio Project Cataloguer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. During my time working as a cataloguer on the Unlocking our Sound Heritage (UOSH) project, I have been fortunate to catalogue a diverse range of...

Postcards from China

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Since the end of August 2021 a new British Library audio exhibition 'Listen: The Story of Recorded Sound' has been open to visitors to Pingshan Library, Shenzhen, China. It will run until 20 February 2022. Visitors will be able to...

Recording of the week: I nearly went bozz-eyed when I saw this!

Monday, September 13, 2021

This week's selection comes from Jonnie Robinson, Lead Curator of Spoken English. After a summer in which most of us have holidayed in the UK, I’ve been fascinated on my travels to note a growing enthusiasm for commercial products that...

Important information for email subscribers

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Unfortunately, the third-party platform that the British Library uses for email notifications for our blogs is making changes to its infrastructure. This means that, from August 2021, we anticipate that email notifications will no longer be sent to subscribers (although...

More blog posts

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