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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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

Nelson Freire – a great pianist remembered

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Jonathan Summers and Nelson Freire (photo © Jonathan Summers) By Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music When Brazilian Nelson Freire died last month at the age of seventy-seven, the world lost one of its greatest pianists. A naturally talented child...

Recording of the Week: The musical pillars of a medieval Indian temple

Monday, November 29, 2021

This week's selection comes from Jim Hickson, Audio Project Cataloguer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. In the British Library's sound archive collections, we have a lot of recordings of temple music – various types of song and music in dedication...

Gerry and Paula discuss Paula’s severe social anxiety

Thursday, November 25, 2021

An interview from The Listening Project looked at for Disability History Month

Introducing the Collections in Dialogue commission with Leeds Art Gallery and the British Library

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Written by Jill McKnight, Artist-in-Residence. I am an artist based in Leeds working across sculpture, writing, installation, drawing and print and I’ve been selected as the artist in residency for Collections in Dialogue, a co-commission project by the British Library...

More blog posts

Related events

Online

Keep On Keeping On: Celebrating Andrew Salkey

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

Exhibition

Beethoven

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Idealist. Innovator. Icon.

At the Library

The Arrival of the Poet in the Library: a Celebration of Christopher Logue

An insight into the words and mind of a unique writer with Harriet Walter, John Hegley, Tariq Ali and guests.

At the Library and online

Did I Say That Out Loud? Fi Glover and Jane Garvey

Award-winning broadcasters and radio legends Fi Glover and Jane Garvey riff on the chuff of life, from pet deaths to broadcasting hierarchies.

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

Lead Curator, Oral History, and 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