New, free online resources and training on caring for audio materials

New, free online resources and training on caring for audio materials, aimed at non-specialist collection holders.

Sound recording technology has been with us for well over a century, and it’s extremely common to find small quantities of tapes, discs and other formats in gallery, library, archive and museum collections around the UK and beyond, often held as part of larger, more traditional collections.

Few professional staff in these institutions have received training in how to care for and make use of sound items, and as a result they are often relegated to the back of the shelf, waiting for a day that never comes. Many sound formats are endangered however, due to the looming unavailability of the necessary playback equipment, and so the time we have in which to finally tackle these collection items is limited, to a few years at most.

The UK-wide Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project is launching a series of online resources and activities, to help collection holders understand and care for their sound collections.

Free training

From late May and throughout the summer, a series of over 40 free training events will be offered, mostly online. They will be led by ten regional sound preservation centres around the UK, helping collection holders of all kinds to preserve and use their sound collections more effectively.

Events and dates will be announced throughout the summer. For an up to date list of the online courses on offer, see For physical training events in your area, switch off the Eventbrite “Search for online events” filter.

Free online resource

A series of nine introductory leaflets, produced by the British Library in partnership with project partners around the UK, breaks down the challenges of caring for sound collections into manageable topics, and points to further authoritative sources of information. They are freely available here:

Free poster

An excellent Unlocking Your Sound Heritage poster outlining simple, realistic steps towards successfully managing your sound collections will be sent free of charge to any UK collection holder on request. Just email us at

Free advice

Your local sound preservation centre will be happy to discuss any aspect of caring for or using sound collections with you:

Will Prentice,
British Lbrary