British Library exhibit to highlight the sounds it’s fighting to save

Jamie Rigg
Last year, the British Library began the "Save our Sounds" project, with the aim of accelerating the digitisation of millions upon millions of lost audio recordings held in its vast archive.

Last year, the British Library began the "Save our Sounds" project, with the aim of accelerating the digitisation of millions upon millions of lost audio recordings held in its vast archive. The collection includes many rare and previously unreleased recordings of everything from speeches and music to wildlife, street sounds and pirate radio broadcasts. In some respects, it's a race against the clock. Time is taking its toll on ancient formats like the wax cylinder, for example, and the equipment needed to play some formats is extremely hard to come by. There's much to be done, but next month the British Library is celebrating achievements thus far with a free exhibition that "will explore how sound has shaped and influenced our lives since the phonograph was invented in 1877."

"Listen: 140 Years of Recorded Sound" runs from October 6th to March 11th, 2018, and complements the 90,000-plus recordings the British Library has already preserved and made available online. The exhibition, which'll be joined by various events, will include curiosities such as the "wireless log" of Alfred Taylor, who at 16 years of age, recorded the 1922 equivalent of a vlog. Key moments in sound will be celebrated, such as the formation of the BBC and pop charts, and artifacts such as rare records, players and recording equipment will also be on display, "exploring how technology has transformed our listening experience."

British Library