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

Classical Podcast No. 1 - The first orchestral record made in Britain and the extraordinary story of Norfolk Megone, Nelson and Bonaparte

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

By Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music Berliner E500 Cecil March recorded 18th August 1898 Welcome to the first of an occasional series of podcasts showcasing treasures from the classical collection of the British Library Sound Archive. Part one of...

Manx English Then and Now

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

PhD placement student, Andrew Booth, writes: The Library’s sound archives contain voices from all over the world and up and down the British Isles. The Isle of Man was included in the Survey of English Dialects in the 1950s and...

Recording of the week: a windy delivery

Monday, April 16, 2018

This week's selection comes from Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife and Environmental Sounds. It's not only letters, local newspapers and pizza flyers that pop through our letterboxes. Sometimes the wind can get through too. This can be heard to great...

T.M. Johnstone’s Modern South Arabian recordings: collaborative cataloguing and ‘footprints’ of biocultural change in Southern Arabia

Friday, April 13, 2018

Audio cataloguer Dr Alice Rudge writes: Thomas Muir Johnstone made many recordings during his research trips to the Middle East in the 1960s and 1970s, some of which are of endangered and unwritten languages. The British Library now houses these...

More blog posts