Help

If you cannot find a solution to your problem from the list of questions below, or you wish to report a fault with a recording, please contact the Reference Team.

  1. Why can I only access some of the recordings on this website?
  2. How can I get a licence?
  3. I am not in UK higher or further education. How can I access the password protected recordings?
  4. I am in UK higher/ further education but my login attempt was unsuccessful. Why?
  5. Can I download recordings?
  6. I am trying to access the website from within the EU but get a message saying I cannot access recordings or log in because I am outside the EU.
  7. The classical music collection is listed as publicly available – why can’t I access it outside the EU?
  8. I've gone to the page for the recording I want but there's no option to play it. Why?
  9. I can't see how to add tags, notes or favourites.
  10. What is a tag?
  11. What is a note?
  12. What is a favourite?
  13. What is a playlist?
  14. How can I change the display of search results?
  15. What am I allowed to do with recordings I have downloaded?
  16. Where can I find a full catalogue record for the item I am looking at?
  17. Are there transcripts for the Oral History interviews and other spoken word material?

  • 1. Why can I only access some of the recordings on this website?

    The recordings on this website are in copyright. Wherever possible, the British Library has cleared rights for full public access, but some of the material is only available to licensed UK higher and further education institutions and is protected behind a password.

    View list of publicly accessible recordings

  • 2. How can I get a licence?

    Licences are available to UK higher and further education institutions only. If you are staff or a student at such an institution, please ask your library to contact the Reference Team to request a free licence.

  • 3. I am not in UK higher or further education. How can I access the password protected recordings?

    You can listen to all the recordings from computers in British Library reading rooms if you have a Readers Pass.

  • 4. I am in UK higher/ further education but my login attempt was unsuccessful. Why?

    There could be a few reasons for this:

    a. You entered your Shibboleth or OpenAthens username or password incorrectly

    b. Your institution has not yet signed up to the Sounds website – view a list of signed institutions here.

    c. You are trying to access the website from outside the EU. Due to copyright restrictions you can only log in within the EU.

  • 5. Can I download recordings?

    Download is available to logged in staff and students in licensed UK higher and further education only.

  • 6. I am trying to access the website from within the EU but get a message saying I cannot access recordings or log in because I am outside the EU.

    Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may have relocated its servers outside the EU. The British Library updates its list of EU-based ISPs on a biannual basis but if you think this might be the source of your problem, please contact the Reference Team to resolve the issue.

  • 7. The classical music collection is listed as publicly available – why can’t I access it outside the EU?

    Differences in international copyright laws mean that recordings which are out of copyright in the EU may still be in copyright in other countries. To avoid any risk of misuse, these recordings are only available on the web from within the EU.

  • 8. I've gone to the page for the recording I want but there's no option to play it. Why?

    If there is no option to play the recording, you do not have permission to access it (see above).

  • 9. I can't see how to add tags, notes or favourites.

    To add tags, notes or favourites, you need to register with the site and log in. Registering is free. If you would like to inform the British Library of an error in a recording or the metadata, please contact the Reference Team providing a link to the recording in question.

  • 10. What is a tag?

    Tags are descriptive words or terms that help make items easier to find. To add tags, you need to register and log in. Enter a tag in the text field under the sound player and click "Add". The tag will be displayed beneath the player. Everyone can see the tags you have added. The most popular tags are displayed in the "tag cloud" displayed on the right-hand side of the Sounds home page and main collection pages. You can search tagged recordings by entering "tag:term" in the search box (where term represents any tag you want to look for) - "tag:train", for example, will give you all the recordings which have been tagged with "train". You can view and manage all of your tags in "Your account".

  • 11. What is a note?

    To add notes, you need log in. You can add information to a recording or item by selecting "Add a note". Contributions are displayed at the bottom of the page. You can also add notes at a specific point in the recording by clicking within the sound wave display of the player. Everyone can see your notes. Go to "Your account" to review and manage all the notes that you have added across the site.

  • 12. What is a favourite?

    Favourites are recordings or items which are of particular interest to you and allow you to personalise the site. To add a favourite, you need to log in. Navigating to recordings is made easier if they are added to your list of favourites. Select "Add to favourites" and the recording will be listed and displayed on the right-hand side of every item page under "My favourites". Favourites are only visible to you and can be managed in "Your account".

  • 13. What is a playlist?

    Playlists are named lists that you can create to which recordings can be added. They allow you to personally organise and categorise recordings. Navigating to recordings is made easier if they are added to your list of favourites. To create a playlist or add an item to a playlist, you need to log in. Your personal playlists can be accessed on the right-hand side of every item page under "My playlists". Playlists are only visible to you and can be managed in '"Your account".

  • 14. How can I change the display of search results?

    The default is alphabetical order by "Name/Title". You can display the records in alphabetical order of collection name or by duration of the recordings (shortest first). In each case, select the heading a second time to reverse the order of display. Sorting by date is not available, as the date formats in different collections will not support this reliably.

  • 15. What am I allowed to do with recordings I have downloaded?

    You can use the recordings in their entirety or use audio editing tools to segment the recordings for the purposes of teaching, learning and research, provided that you observe the general conditions on use of the recordings.

  • 16. Where can I find a full catalogue record for the item I am looking at?

    You can view the full metadata record by clicking the 'View full metadata for this item' button at the foot of the page. If you click on this you will see a page of XML code. If you want to go back to the item page you will need to click the back button on your web browser. The full record presents you with a detailed description of the digital file, the original collection item from which the digital copy has been derived and other technical information on the processes and standards applied during digitisation. You can also find a British Library Sound Archive record by browsing our online catalogue.

  • 17. Are there transcripts for the Oral History interviews and other spoken word material?

    Full transcripts are provided for a number of interviews in the Art, Photography and Architecture and Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust collections. It has not been possible to provide full transcripts for all spoken word material; however, you will find that all Oral Histories have detailed summaries which provide an indication of topics covered by the interview.