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Library will continue to acquire international publications, as well as acquiring and creating file-based unique or ‘unpublished’ recordings.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

Going batty for Halloween

Friday, October 30, 2020

Bats have a long association with Halloween. The most obvious reason for this emerges when we look at another classic character for this time of year, the vampire. As with vampires, bats are creatures of the night, only leaving their...

Eddie South – Dark Angel of the Violin

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Eddie South in 1946 (The Library of Congress, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons) By Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music For Black History Month in previous years I have written about classical musicians such as Dean Dixon and Cullen Maiden...

Recording of the week: Go on then, tell me about the duppies

Monday, October 26, 2020

This week's selection comes from Andrew Ormsby, Audio Project Cataloguer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. ‘Go on then, tell me about the duppies...’ Made in 1976, at Princess Junior School in Moss Side, Manchester, this recording captures a group of...

Recording of the week: Electricity in the kitchen

Monday, October 19, 2020

This week's selection comes from Harriet Roden, Digital Learning Content Developer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. Almost every time someone enters a new room in the UK, there’ll be a flick of a switch. To turn on a light, a...

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