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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

Exploring disability during the Covid-19 pandemic through oral history

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

This Disability History Month, staff from across the British Library have collaborated on a series of blog posts to highlight stories of disability and disabled people in the Library’s collections. Each week a curator will showcase an item from the...

Recording of the week: The window seat

Monday, November 14, 2022

This week’s post comes from Giulia Baldorilli, Sound and Vision Reference Specialist. Above: Photo from train window taken by Giulia Baldorilli Living in London, as I do, means commuting to work every day, and I find the quality of my...

Recording of the week: The Vicinus Music Hall Interviews

Monday, November 7, 2022

This week’s post is by Victoria Hogarth, Data Protection and Rights Clearance Officer for Unlocking Our Sound Heritage. The Vicinus Music Hall Interviews, digitised as part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project, are a treasure trove for music hall...

Recording of the week: A new life, all over again

Monday, October 31, 2022

This week’s post comes from Myriam Fellous-Sigrist, Data Protection and Rights Clearance Officer for Unlocking Our Sound Heritage. Above: Photo above of a U3A display table taken by George Redgrave. Sourced from Flickr under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license. Link...

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

Mary Stewart

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

Dr Madeline White

Curator, 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