Public collections

Where copyright permits, everyone can play recordings in the following collections.

  1. A.R. Gregory Kenyan bird recordings

    Recordings from the most comprehensive personal archive of wildlife sounds from East Africa.

  2. Amphibians

    A comprehensive collection of vocalisations from around the world.

  3. Architecture

    Oral history interviews with British architects and those in associated professions.

  4. Arthur Morris Jones Africa Collection

    Recordings from one of the pioneers of African music studies.

  5. Bach

    All the pre-1957 recordings of the Orchestral Suites, Brandenburg concertos and keyboard concertos.

  6. Banking and finance

    Life story interviews that explore changes in Britain’s banking and finance industries in the second half of the twentieth century.

  7. BBC Voices

    Conversations about language recorded by BBC Nations and Regions

  8. Beethoven

    Compare and contrast performances of Beethoven's string quartets, symphonies and concertos.

  9. Berliner Lautarchiv British and Commonwealth recordings

    Recordings of WW1 British prisoners of war held in Germany.

  10. Between Two Worlds: Poetry and Translation

    A wide range of poets who are bilingual or have English as a second language.

  11. Bob and Jacqueline Patten English Folk Music Collection

    Field recordings of traditional songs, music and customs made between 1969 to 2001.

  12. Bob Davenport English Folk Music Collection

    Traditional music recorded in Newcastle and an interview with Bob Davenport.

  13. Brahms

    Recordings of the symphonies, concertos and overtures made before 1957.

  14. Branding & design

    Life story oral history interviews with people involved in British branding, fashion and design industries.

  15. Brian Moser and Donald Tayler Colombia Collection

    The music of indigenous Indian peoples, recorded between 1960-1.

  16. British wildlife recordings

    A selection of sound recordings of wildlife from around Britain.

  17. Carol Tingey Nepal Collection

    Folk and ritual music of Nepal.

  18. Chamber music

    Performers include the Philharmonic String Quartet (pictured), the London Trio and the Dutch String Quartet.

  19. Chopin

    Performances of all the major works.

  20. Colin Huehns Asia Collection

    Music from Pakistan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

  21. Crafts

    Oral histories that record in-depth life stories of Britain's craftspeople, exploring both their personal and their working lives

  22. Decca West African recordings

    Recordings from the yellow label series, issued on shellac disc between circa 1948-1958.

  23. Derek Collier Collection

    Recordings of the British violinist at the BBC.

  24. Desmond and Shelagh Herring English Folk Music Collection

    Field recordings of traditional songs, dances and customs from Suffolk.

  25. Dinka songs from South Sudan

    Recordings of Dinka songs and language made between 2009 and 2012 in South Sudan.

  26. Disability Voices

    Interviews that chart the experiences of disabled people.

  27. Early record catalogues

    Record catalogues from 1898 to 1926 of discs produced for the British market.

  28. Early spoken word recordings

    English-language recordings drawn from commercial cylinders and 78 rpm discs.

  29. Early wildlife recordings

    Pioneering wildlife sound recordings from the first half of the twentieth century.

  30. Ethnographic wax cylinders

    Music, songs and speech from around the world, captured between 1898 and 1915.

  31. Evolving English WordBank

    Words and phrases contributed by visitors to the British Library’s Evolving English exhibition in 2010/11.

  32. Food

    Interviews that document the history of Britain through attitudes to food and food production

  33. George Ewart Evans collection

    Interviews and songs recorded by oral history pioneer George Ewart Evans between 1956 and 1977.

  34. Giles Swayne Senegal Collection

    Jola music recorded in January and February 1982 in The Gambia and Senegal.

  35. Haydn

    Pre-1957 recordings of the symphonies.

  36. Hugh Davies experimental music

    Works by the British composer of experimental music.

  37. ICA talks

    Talks and discussions held at the ICA during the period 1982-1993, featuring leading writers, artists and filmmakers.

  38. Industry: water, steel and energy

    Oral history interviews documenting the lives and careers of those who worked in the UK electricity, water, steel, oil and gas industries.

  39. James Kippen North India Collection

    Tablā performances and interviews with tablā players and teachers.

  40. Jewish survivors of the Holocaust

    Powerful personal accounts of the Holocaust from Jewish survivors living in Britain.

  41. John Brearley Botswana Collection

    Includes recordings from a range of Bushmen groups.

  42. Keith Summers English Folk Music Collection

    Suffolk performers recorded between 1971 and 1981.

  43. Kenneth Gourlay Uganda Collection

    Recordings from Nigeria and northeast Uganda.

  44. Kevin Volans Southern Africa Music Collection

    Field recordings made in Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

  45. Klaus Wachsmann Uganda Collection

    Indigenous music recorded by the pioneering scholar.

  46. Listen to nature

    Birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects from all over the world.

  47. Listening Project

    One-to-one conversations on a topic of the speakers' choice recorded by BBC Nations and Regions.

  48. Mátyás Seiber

    Chamber, choral and film music by the Hungarian-born composer.

  49. Middle Eastern music on shellac disc

    Music recorded from the 1930s to 1960s, largely representing the urban areas of Iraq,

  50. Millennium Memory Bank

    One of the largest single oral history collections in Europe, recorded by BBC local radio stations during 1998 and 1999.

  51. Mozart

    Symphonies and concertos recorded before 1957.

  52. Music from India

    Folk, devotional and ritual music of rural India.

  53. Nick and Mally Dow English Folk Music Collection

    Traditional singers from Dorset and Lancashire, with a focus on travelling people.

  54. Observing the 1980s

    Insights into the lives and opinions of British people from all social classes and regions.

  55. Odeon record label collection

  56. Opie collection of children's games and songs

    Singing games, skipping and clapping songs, and discussions of informal play.

  57. Oral history curator's choice

    Edited extracts from National Life Stories projects archived at the British Library

  58. Oral history of British science

    Scientists reflect on their background and involvement in UK science.

  59. Oral history of Glyndebourne opera

    Interviews with people connected to Glyndebourne opera.

  60. Peter Cooke Uganda Collection

    Recordings of a broad range of culture groups, genres and instrument types.

  61. Peter Kennedy Collection

    Peter Kennedy’s collection of songs and dances demostrating folklore tradition in Britain and Ireland.

  62. Playback and recording equipment

    Over 400 images of devices, from phonographs to DAT players.

  63. Raymond Firth Tikopia Collection

    Music recordings made from 1952-1973.

  64. Reg Hall English, Irish and Scottish Folk Music and Customs Collection

    Instrumental music and customs from around the UK.

  65. Roy Palmer English Folk Music Collection

    Field recordings of soldiers’ songs and folk drama recorded in Birmingham, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire

  66. Skiffle recordings

    More than 170 numbers, including Lonnie Donegan’s famous hits.

  67. Sound effects

    From Victorian street scenes to the sounds of World War Two.

  68. Soundscapes

    This selection draws together industrial sounds, urban and natural soundscapes, and wildlife sounds from around the globe.

  69. Sport

    Oral history interviews documenting the lives and careers of British sportsmen and women throughout the twentieth century.

  70. Steve Gardham English Folk Music Collection

    Field recordings of music in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire, England.

  71. Survey of English Dialects

    Extracts taken from recordings made between 1951 and 1974.

  72. Syliphone record label recordings from Guinea

    Recordings from the Syliphone record label, created in 1958 in the Republic of Guinea

  73. Terry Yarnell English and Irish Folk Music Collection

    Field recordings made in England and Ireland, circa 1970-1985.

  74. The Golha radio programmes

    Programmes broadcast on Iranian National Radio between 1956 and 1979.

  75. Theatre Archive Project

    A reinvestigation into British theatre history 1945-1968.

  76. Touch Radio

    All the broadcasts from the pioneering station.

  77. Trevor Wiggins Ghana Music Collection

    Dagaare recreational songs and dances from Nandom in northwestern Ghana.

  78. Violeta Ruano Portraits of Saharawi Music

    Recordings showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the Saharawi community living in south-west Algeria.

  79. Water

    Field recordings of various bodies of water from around the world.

  80. Weather

    Field recordings of meteorological phenomena.