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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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: I nearly went bozz-eyed when I saw this!

Monday, September 13, 2021

This week's selection comes from Jonnie Robinson, Lead Curator of Spoken English. After a summer in which most of us have holidayed in the UK, I’ve been fascinated on my travels to note a growing enthusiasm for commercial products that...

Important information for email subscribers

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Unfortunately, the third-party platform that the British Library uses for email notifications for our blogs is making changes to its infrastructure. This means that, from August 2021, we anticipate that email notifications will no longer be sent to subscribers (although...

Recording of the week: Mrs Meurig Morris in a trance address

Monday, August 23, 2021

This week's selection comes from Steve Cleary, Lead Curator of Literary and Creative Recordings. In this week’s ‘Recording of the Week’ we feature the stentorian tones of Louisa Ann Meurig Morris (1899-1991), who was well-known as a spiritualist and medium...

Discovery of a rare Bettini cylinder recording

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Richard Copeman with his Bettini cylinder (photo © Jonathan Summers) By Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music In February 2020, just before lockdown, collector Richard Copeman contacted me about a concert cylinder he had just purchased in Paris. He wondered...

More blog posts

Related events

Discussion

Paddington: The Bear and his Story

A celebration with special guests R. W. Alley, Hugh Bonneville and Karen Jankel.

Online

The Days after Tomorrow: Climate Fiction for the Future

Climate Fiction writers from around the world reimagine our relationship with nature. With a special appearance from prize-winning author Amitav Ghosh.

At the Library

Old News, New Perspectives: 400 years of Newspapers

The origins of newspapers and the transformative growth of the world of news

Online FREE

Rethinking the Amazon

Eduardo Kohn and Pola Oloixarac in conversation with Elisabeth Heyne

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