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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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: On climbing mountains - a woman's view

Monday, May 16, 2022

This week’s selection comes from Giulia Baldorilli, Sound and Vision Reference Specialist. Photo by Cade Prior via Unsplash In this oral history interview, Jean Drummond looks back at the times when she used to rock climb as part of the...

Recording of the week: From potato market to sound archive

Monday, May 9, 2022

This week's selection comes from Myriam Fellous-Sigrist, Data Protection and Rights Clearance Officer. Life in Wartime, Covent Garden Market. Photo credit: Ministry of Information Photo Division Photographer, via Wikimedia Commons. Some interviews make you travel far away, but some shine...

Recording of the week: Have you heard a hedgehog huff?

Monday, May 2, 2022

This week's selection comes from Dr Madeline White, Curator of Oral History. We all know what a hedgehog looks like: small, brown, covered in prickly spines, adorable by any measure. Few of us have seen one in the wild though,...

Recording of the week: Everybody has something to offer

Monday, April 25, 2022

This week’s selection comes from Jonathan Benaim, Audio Cataloguing Coordinator. Taken from the British Library’s Oral History of Jazz in Britain collection, this recording is from an interview with guitarist Ernest Ranglin. In this particular excerpt, prompted by interviewer Val...

More blog posts

Related events

At the Library and online

ABBA in the Archives

Carl Magnus Palm in conversation with Kit Green.

At the Library and online FREE

The Jhalak Prize Award 2022

The Jhalak Prize returns to the British Library

Online

The Sebald Lecture 2022: Lydia Davis

The annual lecture on literary translation

JLF at the British Library 2022

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The return of the London edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival from 10 – 12 June 2022

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