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. Arnold Adriaan Bake South Asian Music Collection

    Religious and folk music, ritual and dance from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka

  5. Art

    Life story oral history interviews with people involved in British art

  6. Arthur Morris Jones Africa Collection

    Recordings from one of the pioneers of African music studies

  7. Authors

    Life story interviews with authors reflecting on their experiences of living and writing in the 20th and 21st centuries.

  8. Bach

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

  9. Banking and finance

    Life story interviews that explore changes in Britain’s banking and finance industries in the second half of the 20th century

  10. BBC Voices

    Conversations about language recorded by BBC Nations and Regions

  11. Beethoven

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

  12. Berliner Lautarchiv British and Commonwealth recordings

    Recordings of WW1 British prisoners of war held in Germany

  13. Between Two Worlds: Poetry and Translation

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

  14. Bob and Jacqueline Patten English Folk Music Collection

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

  15. Bob Davenport English Folk Music Collection

    Traditional music recorded in Newcastle and an interview with Bob Davenport

  16. Brahms

    Recordings of the symphonies, concertos and overtures made before 1957

  17. Branding & design

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

  18. Brian Moser and Donald Tayler Colombia Collection

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

  19. British wildlife recordings

    A selection of sound recordings of wildlife from around Britain

  20. Carol Tingey Nepal Collection

    Folk and ritual music of Nepal

  21. Chamber music

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

  22. Charity and social welfare

    Memories and experiences of key figures in welfare and charitable work

  23. Chopin

    Performances of all the major works

  24. Colin Huehns Asia Collection

    Music from Pakistan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan

  25. Crafts

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

  26. Decca West African recordings

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

  27. Derek Collier Collection

    Recordings of the British violinist at the BBC

  28. Desmond and Shelagh Herring English Folk Music Collection

    Field recordings of traditional songs, dances and customs from Suffolk

  29. Dinka songs from South Sudan

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

  30. Disability Voices

    Interviews that chart the experiences of disabled people

  31. Early record catalogues

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

  32. Early spoken word recordings

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

  33. Early wildlife recordings

    Pioneering wildlife sound recordings from the first half of the 20th century

  34. Endangered Micronesian recordings

    Music from the islands of Micronesia

  35. Ethnographic wax cylinders

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

  36. Evolving English VoiceBank

    A selection of English accents captured at the British Library

  37. Evolving English WordBank

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

  38. Fashion

    Life story interviews with people whose lives have been spent in the fashion industry

  39. Food

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

  40. George Ewart Evans collection

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

  41. Giles Swayne Senegal Collection

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

  42. Haydn

    Pre-1957 recordings of the symphonies

  43. Hugh Davies experimental music

    Works by the British composer of experimental music

  44. ICA talks

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

  45. 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

  46. James Kippen North India Collection

    Tablā performances and interviews with tablā players and teachers

  47. Jewish survivors of the Holocaust

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

  48. John Brearley Botswana Collection

    Includes recordings from a range of Bushmen groups

  49. John Low East Africa Collection

    Includes field recordings made in Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania

  50. Keith Summers English Folk Music Collection

    Suffolk performers recorded between 1971 and 1981

  51. Kenneth Gourlay Uganda Collection

    Recordings from Nigeria and northeast Uganda

  52. Kevin Volans Southern Africa Music Collection

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

  53. Klaus Wachsmann Uganda Collection

    Indigenous music recorded by the pioneering scholar

  54. Law

    Life story interviews with prominent barristers, judges and lawyers that document the history of the legal profession in Britain

  55. Listen to nature

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

  56. Listening Project

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

  57. Mátyás Seiber

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

  58. Middle Eastern music on shellac disc

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

  59. Millennium Memory Bank

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

  60. Mozart

    Symphonies and concertos recorded before 1957

  61. Music from India

    Folk, devotional and ritual music of rural India

  62. Nick and Mally Dow English Folk Music Collection

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

  63. Observing the 1980s

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

  64. Odeon record label recordings from the Indian subcontinent

    Odeon record lable recordings from the Indian subcontinent

  65. One Language, Many Voices

    Self-defined linguistic identities of Brtiish Library visitors

  66. Opie collection of children's games and songs

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

  67. Oral historians

    Life story interviews with oral historians and others who have practiced oral history

  68. Oral history curator's choice

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

  69. Oral history of British science

    Scientists reflect on their background and involvement in UK science

  70. Oral history of Glyndebourne opera

    Interviews with people connected to Glyndebourne opera

  71. Percy Grainger ethnographic wax cylinders

    Recordings made by Percy Grainger in England, 1906–1908.

  72. Peter Cooke Uganda Collection

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

  73. Peter Kennedy Collection

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

  74. Photography

    Intimate encounters with the life and work of British photographers

  75. Pioneering women

    Oral histories documenting the lives of pioneering women in Britain, each of whom pursued a successful career in their respective fields long before it was the norm for women to do so

  76. Playback and recording equipment

    Over 400 images of devices, from phonographs to DAT players

  77. Politics

    Life story interviews with current and former Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords

  78. Press and media

    An Oral History of the British Press

  79. Raymond Firth Tikopia Collection

    Music recordings made from 1952-1973

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

    Instrumental music and customs from around the UK

  81. Roy Palmer English Folk Music Collection

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

  82. Skiffle recordings

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

  83. Sound effects

    From Victorian street scenes to the sounds of World War Two

  84. Soundscapes

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

  85. Sport

    Oral history interviews documenting the lives and careers of British sportsmen and women throughout the 20th century

  86. Steve Gardham English Folk Music Collection

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

  87. Survey of English Dialects

    Extracts taken from recordings made between 1951 and 1974

  88. Syliphone record label recordings from Guinea

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

  89. Terry Yarnell English and Irish Folk Music Collection

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

  90. The Golha radio programmes: Flowers of Persian song and music

    Programmes broadcast on Iranian National Radio between 1956 and 1979

  91. Theatre

    An oral history of theatre design

  92. Theatre Archive Project

    A reinvestigation into British theatre history 1945-1968

  93. Touch Radio

    All the broadcasts from the pioneering station

  94. Trevor Wiggins Ghana Music Collection

    Dagaare recreational songs and dances from Nandom in northwestern Ghana

  95. Vanishing voices from Russia and Eastern Europe

    Folk, traditional and ritual songs and stories from Udmurtia and other areas of Russia

  96. Violeta Ruano Portraits of Saharawi Music

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

  97. Water

    Field recordings of various bodies of water from around the world

  98. Weather

    Field recordings of meteorological phenomena

  99. Young India record label collection

    Music from the 'Young India' record label 1935-1955