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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

“And we saw the thing had done a computation” - The modern computer turns 70

Thursday, June 21, 2018

It's been 70 years since the first successful run of the Manchester Baby, arguably the worlds first modern computer.

Recording of the week: Dennis Brutus

Monday, June 18, 2018

This week's selection comes from Stephen Cleary, Lead Curator of Literary & Creative Recordings. In this archive recording from the African Writers Club collection, South African poet and anti-apartheid activist Dennis Brutus reads the introductory poem from his debut volume...

International research collaboration on South Asian audiovisual heritage

Friday, June 15, 2018

In March this year the British Library began a new research project with the Archives and Research Center for Ethnomusicology American Institute of Indian Studies (ARCE) in India, focused around our South Asian audiovisual heritage collections. Funded through a grant...

Recording of the week: a Mute Swan's heart

Monday, June 11, 2018

This week's selection comes from Greg Green, Audio Project Cataloguer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. There are hundreds of thousands of recordings of birds in the sound archive, but not all are of the typical songs and calls we would...

More blog posts

Related events

Performance

Pigspurt's Child

Written and performed by Daisy Campbell

Performance

The School of Ken: What I Learned from Ken Campbell

A celebration of theatre maverick and 'antic visionary' Ken Campbell

Season of Sound

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Celebrating our sound archive

Talks and Discussions FREE

Save Our Sounds! How the British Library is Unlocking Our Sound Heritage

Part of our Season of Sound

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

…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