Our sound collections feature over 1 million discs, 185,000 tapes, and many other sound and video recordings from all over the world.

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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

Percy Grainger's collection of ethnographic wax cylinders

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The British Library is pleased to make available online around 350 English folk songs recorded by composer Percy Grainger in different regions of England between 1906 and 1909. Thanks to the generous support of the National Folk Music Fund, these...

A first for women in Parliament: Mary Frampton on running the Serjeant at Arms office

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Emme Ledgerwood writes about Mary Frampton, the first female Clerk in Charge of the Serjeant at Arms office.

Recording of the week: Mike Leigh

Monday, February 19, 2018

This week's selection comes from Stephen Cleary, Lead Curator of Literary & Creative Recordings. Film-maker Mike Leigh in conversation with novelist William Boyd, 22 March 1991, at the ICA, London, around the time of the release of Life is Sweet,...

Recording of the Week: The Listening Project Symphony

Monday, February 12, 2018

Paul Wilson, Curator Radio Broadcast writes: This week’s selection celebrates World Radio Day 2018 (13th February) and is an example of the art of radio at its best: blending creativity with actuality to illuminate aspects of our life and times...

More blog posts

Related events

Exhibition FREE

Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound

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A free exhibition

Talks and Discussions

The Turntable Revolution

How the turntable not only invented the music business, but also changed our lives

Talks and Discussions

Don't Write, Make a Record

Broadcaster and oral historian Alan Dein explores the story of the automatic record booth

Talks and Discussions

Writing Audible, Inaudible and Unwanted Sound

Take a fresh look at sound

View all events

Projects

Save our Sounds

Save our Sounds is our programme to preserve the nation’s sound heritage.

Directory of UK Sound Collections

The British Library has created a directory of UK sound collections

Edison Fellowships

We offer fellowships to encourage the study of classical music sound recordings

The Future of Radio

This 2016 project investigated the future of radio and radio archives.

All projects

Case studies

…The archival material provides fascinating insights…

Christian is evaluating the archival material of Dutch ethnomusicologist Arnold Adriaan Bake.

…My work as an Edison Fellow has profoundly changed my thoughts on music making…

Pianist Marisa Gupta uses historical sound recordings to inform her chamber music performances.

…The research I did as an Edison Fellow at the British Library was invaluable for my PhD…

Alexis Bennett researched 1930s British film music as an Edison Fellow at the British Library.

Library experts

Rob Perks

Lead Curator, Oral History & Director of National Life Stories

Jonnie Robinson

Lead Curator, Spoken English

Mary Stewart

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

Stephen Cleary

Lead Curator, Literary and Creative Recordings

More staff members

External links

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

Association of Independent Music

The collective voice of the UK's independent music industry

British Phonographic Industry

Represents the UK’s major record companies and more than 300 independents

IASA

International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives

International Bioacoustics Council

Responsible for the organisation of international conferences on bioacoustics

Oral History Society

Dedicated to the collection and preservation of oral history

Wildlife Sound Recording Society

International society dedicated to recording the sounds of the natural world