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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

Religious unbelief in the life of Professor Sir Fred Holliday

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Paul Merchant examines the state of 'religious unbelief' held by Professor Sir Fred Holliday [1935-2016], marine biologist, founding Chairman of Northumbrian Water, Vice-Chancellor and Warden of the University of Durham, and Director of Shell and of British Rail

Black History Month - The Gold Coast Police Band

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

By Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music For Black History month in previous years I have highlighted the career and work of classical musicians such as Dean Dixon and Cullen Maiden. While considering people for this year’s blog, I received...

Recording of the week: Montserrat Volcano Observatory

Monday, October 15, 2018

This week's selection comes from Emme Ledgerwood, Collaborative Doctoral Award student with the British Library's Oral History department and Leicester University. “I think great science comes from this natural curiosity” This recording for #EarthScienceWeek comes from Stephen Sparks, a volcanologist...

Recording of the week: from the days of the demo tape

Monday, October 8, 2018

This week's selection comes from Lucia Cavorsi, Audio Project Cataloguer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. When you work in a sound archive it’s not uncommon to find yourself drawn into a listening experience which is both immersive and enriching. For...

More blog posts

Related events

Season of Sound

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Celebrating our sound archive

Talks and Discussions

Bootleg: The Strange Story of the Forbidden Record

The illicit but compelling story of bootleg recordings

Talks and Discussions

Selector Responder II: Sounding Out the Archives

Experiments in recorded sound

Talks and Discussions

Jason Moran: Performing the Harlem Hellfighters

Jason Moran in conversation with Soweto Kinch

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.

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