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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

Recording of the week: 'It is a great thing nettle beer'

Monday, April 19, 2021

This week's selection comes from Dr. Sue Davies, Project Manager for Unlocking Our Sound Heritage. One thing I love about the sound archive is that by listening I discover things that I wasn’t looking for. This recording on nettle beer...

Recording of the week: how to avoid being puked on by a fulmar

Monday, April 12, 2021

This week’s section comes from Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife & Environmental Sounds It’s always advisable to keep your distance from wild birds, particularly during the breeding season. The main reason, of course, is to avoid causing any distress to...

Recording of the week: An interview with Ravi Shankar

Monday, April 5, 2021

This week's selection comes from Sarah Coggrave, Rights Clearance Officer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. In 2017, the Mike Sparrow Collection (C1248) was the first audio collection to be preserved as part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project. Mike...

Guy Brett: Ideas in Motion

Thursday, April 1, 2021

A tribute to art writer Guy Brett (1942 - 2021)

More blog posts

Related events

Online Event

Dara McAnulty in Conversation with Lucy Siegle

The acclaimed teenage author and activist on the challenges facing his generation and why they must fight for the world they’ll inherit.

Online Event

Estrellas Nuevas: The New Spanish-Language Superstars

Granta Magazine introduces the next generation of writers from across the Spanish-speaking world.

Online Event

I Belong Here: Anita Sethi in Conversation

Online Event

Simon Armitage: The Laureate's Library Tour

The start of a 10-year adventure.

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

More 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.

…It will be in the British Library for eternity!…

Hannah's collaborative PhD research will lead to a new archive on black British poetry in performance.

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