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About the British Library Sound Archive

The British Library Sound Archive holds many sound and video recordings, with over a million discs and thousands of tapes. Its collections come from all over the world and cover the entire range of recorded sound from music, drama and literature, to oral history and wildlife sounds. Formats range from cylinders made in the late 19th century to the latest digital media.

In addition to copies of commercial recordings issued within the United Kingdom, the Sound Archive keeps selected commercial recordings from overseas, radio broadcasts and many privately-made recordings.

The catalogue includes entries for millions of recordings held in the Sound Archive and is updated daily. It is one of the largest catalogues of its kind anywhere in the world, covering both published and unpublished recordings.

The British Library Sounds website provides free online access for UK higher and further education institutions to over 50,000 rare recordings of music, spoken word, and human and natural environments. Many of these recordings are also accessible for general public listening online. 

The Listening and Viewing Service provides onsite public access at the British Library to all the Archive's collections of recorded sound and video.

The Sound Archive also offers public access to a wide range of specialist publications, books, magazines and journals covering every aspect of recorded sound in the Humanities - Floor 2 Reading Room, and also operates a free information service by post, phone, fax and e-mail. 

The Sound and Moving Image Copying Services, which can provide copies from the collections, are available to academic institutions, commercial users and private individuals.

Curators in the Sound Archive are able to offer specialist advice and assistance in the following fields:

Further information

Sound & Vision Reference Service
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7831
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7691

E-mail: Ask the Sound & Vision Reference Team