Save our Sounds at the British Library

Email received today from the British Library:

On the 12th January, the British Library launched a new initiative titled Save our Sounds.  One of the key aims of this programme is to preserve as much as possible of the nation’s rare and unique sound recordings, not just those in the Library’s collections but also key items from partner collections across the UK.

International consensus holds that we have around 15 years in which to preserve our sound collections. By 2030, the scarcity of older equipment, the condition of recorded media and the loss of skills will make their preservation costly, difficult and, in many cases, impossible.

These risks face all recorded sound collections, across the country, from boxes of forgotten cassette recordings to professional archives.

To help us understand the risks faced by the UK’s recorded heritage, the Library has been running a project to map the extent of sound collections in the UK, and to create a Directory of UK Sound Collections.

Thanks to all those who’ve replied, the response we’ve had so far has been fantastic.  Over the past three months we’ve received information on c.1million items covering a wonderful range of subjects, from oral history interviews with nurses, London dockers, rugby players, booksellers and lifeboat crew, to experimental music, church bells, fairground organs, trains and silence, lost radio broadcasts and recordings of Tolkien, Ella Fitzgerald and J.B. Priestley, held on everything from wax cylinders to digital files.

And the good news is that it’s not over yet – our project has been extended, and we now have a deadline of 31st May for responses.  So, if you’ve been thinking about sending us some information on your collections, or if this is the first you’ve heard of our project, we’d love to hear from you.

You can get in touch with us at, or find out more at our project webpage at:

We’ll be publishing the results of our census in June, along with some advice on understanding and looking after your collections.

And of course, the more people know about our survey, the safer our sounds will be, so do feel free to publicise amongst your nearest and dearest.


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