Unlocking Our Sound Heritage

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.

Published date:

The project runs from 2017 to 2022, and by the end of the five years:

  • almost half a million rare and at-risk sound recordings will have been digitally preserved
  • a network of audio preservation centres will have been established across the UK
  • more people will have engaged with sound recordings.  

Unlocking Our Sound Heritage is funded by a £9.5 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as generous funding from charities and individuals, including the Foyle and Garfield Weston Foundations.

The work will be delivered by a consortium of institutions, led by the British Library. The 10 consortium partners are: 

Together, these organisations will focus on rare and unique recordings. These are at risk of being lost because they are held on formats that are physically degrading and the playback equipment required is no longer produced.

The consortium will deliver a programme of public engagement activities, including workshops, learning events for families, public tours and exhibitions, and in late 2019, a new website that will allow listeners to explore a selection of recordings online.

Unlocking our Sound Heritage forms part of a core British Library programme Save Our Sounds, which pledges to preserve and represent the nation’s sound heritage. You can read more about the scale of the remaining challenge in our Living Knowledge vision, published in January 2015.


See also

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

Digital Audio Collection

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

All projects

Blog posts

Recording of the week: Dennis Brutus

Monday, June 18, 2018

This week's selection comes from Stephen Cleary, Lead Curator of Literary & Creative Recordings. In this archive recording from the African Writers Club collection, South African poet and anti-apartheid activist Dennis Brutus reads the introductory poem from his debut volume...

International research collaboration on South Asian audiovisual heritage

Friday, June 15, 2018

In March this year the British Library began a new research project with the Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology American Institute of Indian Studies (ARCE) in India, focused around our South Asian audiovisual heritage collections. Funded through a grant...

Recording of the week: a Mute Swan's heart

Monday, June 11, 2018

This week's selection comes from Greg Green, Audio Project Cataloguer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. There are hundreds of thousands of recordings of birds in the sound archive, but not all are of the typical songs and calls we would...

Make yourself at home! The BBC in a multi-cultural world

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

David Hendy writes about an upcoming event at the British Library, Britain Reimagined: A New Oral History of the BBC.

More blog posts