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

  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. George Ewart Evans collection

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

  32. Giles Swayne Senegal Collection

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

  33. Haydn

    Pre-1957 recordings of the symphonies.

  34. Hugh Davies experimental music

  35. ICA talks

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

  36. 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.

  37. James Kippen North India Collection

    Tablā performances and interviews with tablā players and teachers.

  38. Jewish survivors of the Holocaust

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

  39. John Brearley Botswana Collection

    Includes recordings from a range of Bushmen groups.

  40. Keith Summers English Folk Music Collection

    Suffolk performers recorded between 1971 and 1981.

  41. Kenneth Gourlay Uganda Collection

    Recordings from Nigeria and northeast Uganda.

  42. Kevin Volans Southern Africa Music Collection

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

  43. Klaus Wachsmann Uganda Collection

    Indigenous music recorded by the pioneering scholar.

  44. Listen to nature

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

  45. Listening Project

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

  46. Middle Eastern music on shellac disc

    The British Library’s Middle Eastern music collection includes around 2000 78 rpm shellac discs from the period 1930s to 1960s

  47. Millennium Memory Bank

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

  48. Mozart

    Symphonies and concertos recorded before 1957.

  49. Music from India

    Folk, devotional and ritual music of rural India.

  50. Nick and Mally Dow English Folk Music Collection

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

  51. Observing the 1980s

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

  52. Opie collection of children's games and songs

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

  53. Oral history curator's choice

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

  54. Oral history of British science

    Scientists reflect on their background and involvement in UK science.

  55. Oral history of Glyndebourne opera

    Interviews with people connected to Glyndebourne opera.

  56. Peter Cooke Uganda Collection

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

  57. Peter Kennedy Collection

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

  58. Playback and recording equipment

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

  59. Raymond Firth Tikopia Collection

    Music recordings made from 1952-1973.

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

    Instrumental music and customs from around the UK.

  61. Roy Palmer English Folk Music Collection

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

  62. Skiffle recordings

  63. Sound effects

  64. Soundscapes

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

  65. Sport

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

  66. Steve Gardham English Folk Music Collection

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

  67. Survey of English Dialects

    Extracts taken from recordings made between 1951 and 1974.

  68. Terry Yarnell English and Irish Folk Music Collection

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

  69. Theatre Archive Project

    A reinvestigation into British theatre history 1945-1968.

  70. Touch Radio

    All the broadcasts from the pioneering station.

  71. Trevor Wiggins Ghana Music Collection

    Dagaare recreational songs and dances from Nandom in northwestern Ghana.

  72. Violeta Ruano Portraits of Saharawi Music

  73. Water

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

  74. Weather

    Field recordings of meteorological phenomena.