British Library’s pledge to save the nation’s sounds secures £9.5 million boost from Heritage Lottery Fund

(20 May 2015) The British Library has received earmarked funding for a £9,568,900 bid from the Heritage Lottery Fund (including a £215,900 development fund) to help to save the nation’s sounds, and open them up online for everyone to hear.

The funding will enable the British Library to digitise and make available 500,000 rare, unique and at-risk sound recordings from its own archive and other key collections around the country over 5 years (2017-2022).

This support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) answers an urgent call to save the UK’s sounds from being lost forever. Sound archivists estimate that we have 15 years in which to digitise historic sound recordings before the equipment required to play some formats can no longer be used, and some formats such as wax cylinders and acetate discs start to naturally decay.

These sounds range from underwater recordings of killer whales made in the waters surrounding Shetland (held by the Centre for Wildlife Conservation, University of Cumbria), to a collection of sounds held in the Canterbury Cathedral archives spanning 50 years of services, choral and opera performances and other recordings, many of which are thought to be unique.

Read what else is to be saved here.