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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

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...

Making of: The Unearthed Odyssey

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Written by AWATE, Artist-in-Residence for Unlocking Our Sound Heritage. In 2019-20, I was the Artist-in-Residence at the British Library Sound Archive for Unlocking Our Sound Heritage. I was tasked with creatively using the sounds (up to 7 million!) in order...

What if your home had ears?

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Mary Stewart introduces the new BL web resource If Homes Had Ears. Open your ears, draw back the curtains and peek into domestic life as you may never have heard it before.

Nuclear history: Triangulating sources and government secrecy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Joshua McMullan on security reviews, oral history and nuclear history

More blog posts

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.

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

David Govier

Archivist, Oral History

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