Our collections of audio and video interviews provide insights into many aspects of UK personal memory, identity and experience.

Collection guides

Listening and Viewing Service box

Listening and Viewing Service

The Listening and Viewing Service provides free onsite public access to our collection of recorded sound and video.

Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.

We can also provide access to archived BBC Radio broadcasts.

Mon - Thu: 10.00 - 20.00
Fri - Sat: 10.00 - 17.00
Sun and English Public Holidays: closed

You will need a Reader Pass. Over 200,000 digital tracks are available for instant access through our catalogue without an appointment, though you may have to make an appointment to listen to some sounds.

British Library Sounds offers free online access to 80,000 selections from the Library’s extensive collections of unique sound recordings.

T: +44 (0)20 7412 7418
E: Listening@bl.uk

Blog posts

Creative States of Mind: a new collection of interviews exploring artists and the creative process

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What does it feel like to be an artist? Patricia Townsend spoke to professional artists to find out and the interviews are now available at the British Library.

Andrea Levy

Friday, February 15, 2019

We’re sad to hear of the death of novelist Andrea Levy who passed away yesterday, aged 62. In 2014, Andrea agreed to make a recording for Authors’ Lives which will be made available to listeners in the weeks to come.

Where our laws are drafted: 150 years of the Office of Parliamentary Counsel

Friday, February 8, 2019

On 8 February 1869 the Board of the Treasury met to discuss “the drafting or preparing of Bills introduced into Parliament on the part of Her Majesty’s Government.” The Treasury minute goes on to note “the advantage of bringing all...

Recording of the week: sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi on post-war Britain

Monday, January 7, 2019

This week's selection comes from Camille Johnston, Oral History Assistant Archivist. Sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) describes how it felt to be an artist in the 1950s. Post-war Britain was changing but there was nonetheless a pervading sense of austerity. Paolozzi...

More blog posts

Oral history projects

National Life Stories Goodison Fellowship

This award of £5,000 allows the Goodison Fellow a period of sustained engagement with the oral history collections in order to share the results in public domain.

National Life Stories: Artists' Lives

Artists’ lives and work in their own words

National Life Stories: Architects' Lives

Documenting the life and work of British architects and their associates

National Life Stories: Authors' Lives

In-depth interviews with leading authors working in Britain today

All projects

Projects

National Life Stories: Crafts Lives

Memories and experiences of independent designer makers working in British studio crafts

National Life Stories: An Oral History of the Electricity Supply Industry in the UK

Life stories of people involved in the industry's development and operation in Britain

National Life Stories: Legal Lives

In-depth interviews with people involved in the legal and criminal justice system

National Life Stories: An Oral History of British Science

An Oral History of British Science is a national collection of in-depth, life story audio interviews with scientists and engineers.

All projects

Library experts

Rob Perks

Lead Curator, Oral History & Director of National Life Stories

Mary Stewart

Curator, Oral History, and Deputy Director of National Life Stories

Oral History case studies

…To create an archive which will be part of the Library is really a privilege…

Dvora is a collaborative PhD student exploring the social world of Crown Court clerks from the 1970s onwards.

…I ranged at will through more than fifty interviews – still just a fraction of the total…

Michael Bird explored the Artists' Lives collection to produce an exhibition and a forthcoming book

…The Fellowship allowed us to dedicate ourselves to researching the food recordings and finding different audiences for them…

Polly Russell and Barley Blyton are food writers and academics. They were 2015 Goodison Fellows at National Life Stories where they focused on the 'Food: From Source to Salespoint' oral history interviews.

External links

The British Library is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Oral History Society

Promotes the collection, preservation and use of recorded memories