Save our Sounds is the British Library’s programme to preserve the nation’s sound heritage.
The nation’s sound collections are under threat, both from physical degradation and as the means of playing them disappear from production. Archival consensus internationally is that we have approximately 15 years in which to save our sound collections by digitising them before they become unreadable and are effectively lost.
The British Library is home to the nation’s sound archive, an extraordinary collection of over 6.5 million recordings of speech, music, wildlife and the environment, from the 1880s to the present day. We need both to ensure that the existing archive is properly preserved, and that there are adequate systems in place for the acquisition of future sound production in the UK.
The Save our Sounds programme has been created to answer this imperative need. It has three major aims:
– to preserve as much as possible of the nation’s rare and unique sound recordings, not just those in our collections but also key items from partner collections across the UK
– to establish a national radio archive that will collect, protect and share a substantial part of the UK’s vibrant radio output, working with the radio industry and other partners
– to invest in new technology to enable us to receive music in digital formats, working with music labels and industry partners to ensure their long-term preservation
UK Sound Directory | Help us create a directory of the UK’s recorded sound collections.
We are undertaking a national audit to map the condition of sound archives around the country and identify other threatened collections – if you have a sound collection which you think could be at risk, get in touch and let us know.
Listen to a selection from the British 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.
Our Sounds website has over 60,000 sound recordings for all to enjoy, covering the entire range of recorded sounds: music, drama and literature, oral history, wildlife and environmental sounds.