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Users can hear any item from our extensive holdings of published and unpublished recordings of music, wildlife, drama, literature, and oral history.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: Leonardo da Vinci's watery obsession

Monday, June 17, 2019

This week's selection comes from Cheryl Tipp, Curator of Wildlife & Environmental Sounds. One of the major themes of the library's current exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: A Mind in Motion is water. From the workings of underwater breathing apparatus to...

Recording of the week: Loss of a world and a need to capture it

Monday, June 10, 2019

This week's selection comes from Charlie Morgan, Oral History Archivist. Someone asked Goha what was his favourite music and he replied, ‘The clanging of pots and pans and the tinkling of glasses’ (Middle Eastern Food, p.520) In 2018 Gaby’s Deli...

D-Day has come

Thursday, June 6, 2019

U.S. Soldiers disembark a landing craft at Normandy, France, June 6, 1944 By Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music For those people in occupied countries, this was life changing news. Seventy five years ago today, as the allied forces landed...

Stuart Franklin remembers photographing Tank Man in Tiananmen Square

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Stuart Franklin remembers taking the iconic photograph of Tank Man in Tiananmen Square 1989

More blog posts

Related events

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.

Special Event

Art Night

A night of performances and exhibitions as part of London’s largest free contemporary art festival

Shubbak Literature Festival

A celebration of contemporary Arabic writing

Talks and Discussions

Joy Division: The Story of a Band

Join Stephen Morris and Jon Savage revisiting an extraordinary time, drawing on their new books on the band

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

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