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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

True Echoes: Eric Raff 1924 Efate, New Hebrides cylinder collection (C83)

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Eric Raff 1924 Efate, New Hebrides Cylinder Collection (C83) is a set of twelve black wax cylinders recorded in 1924 on the island of Efate in Vanuatu. The collection was previously known as the RAI Vanuatu Cylinder Collection as...

Recording of the week: Family mealtimes

Monday, October 18, 2021

This week's selection comes from Dr Madeline White, Curator of Oral History. One way or another, food is at the heart of everyday life for almost everyone on the planet. We plan our days around it, share it with friends,...

Recording of the week: Dog team or engine power? Sleds and other subjects in 1940s Alaska

Monday, October 4, 2021

This week's selection comes from George Brierley, Audio Project Cataloguer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. During my time working as a cataloguer on the Unlocking our Sound Heritage (UOSH) project, I have been fortunate to catalogue a diverse range of...

Postcards from China

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Since the end of August 2021 a new British Library audio exhibition 'Listen: The Story of Recorded Sound' has been open to visitors to Pingshan Library, Shenzhen, China. It will run until 20 February 2022. Visitors will be able to...

More blog posts

Related events

The Chortle Comedy Book Festival

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Britain’s only comedy book festival is back

At the Library and online

Keep On Keeping On: Celebrating Andrew Salkey

We mark the life and legacy of Jamaican writer and poet Andrew Salkey

At the Library and online

Africa Writes Festival - Inherited: All Our Names

A rhythmic evening of poetry, dance and sound exploring names we inherit.

At the Library and online

Africa Writes Festival - Dismantling the Patriarchy: Mona Eltahawy in conversation

A bold, uncompromising feminist manifesto on how to defy and disrupt the patriarchy

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

Dr Janet Topp Fargion

Head of Sound and Vision

Isobel Clouter

True Echoes, Principal Investigator

Jonnie Robinson

Lead Curator, Spoken English

Mary Stewart

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

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