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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

The unseen work of the oral history summariser

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Oral History Curator Mary Stewart reflects on the contributions of volunteers to the oral history collections, particularly remembering the sterling work of Audrie Mundy.

Concert cylinders and the first recording of the Queen’s Hall Orchestra

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

By Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music It was exciting to receive an Edison concert cylinder as a donation recently, but much more so to discover that it is probably the first recording by members of the Queen’s Hall Orchestra....

Recording of the week: Island Grief after Hurricane Ivan

Monday, December 3, 2018

This week's selection comes from Dr Eva del Rey, Curator of Drama and Literature Recordings and Digital Performance. British-Caribbean poet, artist and theatre maker Malika Booker reads ‘Island Grief after Hurricane Ivan’ from her 2013 collection Pepper Seed. Recorded at...

Valuing religion without believing

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Paul Merchant explores oral histories with people who value religion in spite of their own unbelief.

More blog posts

Related events

Special Event

Crick Crack Club: The House of Nine Lives

Performance storytelling with Tim Ralphs, Nell Phoenix and TUUP

Workshop FREE

Sounds Familiar?

Monday to Friday

Led by British Library experts in English accents and dialects, this session introduces ways of analysing spoken English.

Talks and Discussions

Poetry Pamphlets Celebration

Celebrating 10 years of the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets

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