British Library Archival Sound Recordings

Alternative Title: 
British Library Sounds

This service provides access to digitised recordings of some of the Sound Archives' collections. Archival Sound Recordings is the result of a development project to increase access to the British Library Sound Archive's extensive collections.

British Library Sounds presents 50,000 recordings and their associated documentation from the Library’s extensive collections of unique sound recordings which come from all over the world and cover the entire range of recorded sound: music, drama and literature, oral history, wildlife and environmental sounds.

Spatial Coverage: 
Data Creator: 
British Library
Time Period: 

1950 - present


An online help page is provided within the site.


To make access possible from the British Library Sounds website, files are converted to compressed formats: .wma for streaming (listening directly from the website) and .mp3 for downloads. To replay the .wma recordings streamed from the British Library Sounds website, Mac users may need to download the free Windows Media Components for QuickTime by Flip4Mac (Mac OS X version 10.4 or later). An alternative is Windows Media Player for Mac that also supports older Mac systems but opens a pop-up player.

Registering with the site allows you to make notes, add tags and personally manage items using favourites and playlists. These features are now available to all users. Users in licensed UK HE/FE institutions now need to register to use them. See the Help page for more information on these features.

Users in licensed UK HE/FE institutions can also authenticate via shibboleth and OpenAthens to access recordings restricted to this audience due to copyright limitations.


Initial encodings of the sound recordings were made in .wav format.

Data Access: 

Directly available to Edinburgh University users via EASE.