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You are here: Home / Offices / Press Office / Press Releases / 2017 / April / Major National Lottery funding boost enables University of Leicester to partner with the British Library and a new national network on major audio preservation project

Major National Lottery funding boost enables University of Leicester to partner with the British Library and a new national network on major audio preservation project

Posted by ap507 at Apr 12, 2017 11:41 AM |
‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’ project to preserve rich stories of UK’s diverse history

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 12 April 2017

The British Library is today launching ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’, a major £18.8 million preservation and access project, which has received a £9.5 million National Lottery grant.

The funding will enable the formation of the first ever national network of ten sound preservation centres, including the University of Leicester.

This network will now come together with the British Library to save almost half a million rare and unique recordings that are threatened by physical degradation or stored on formats that can no longer be played.

These recordings tell a rich story of the UK’s diverse history through traditional, pop and world music, drama and literature readings, oral history, regional radio, and wildlife sounds from around the country.

The stories of communities, migrant workers and marginalised groups will be told alongside those of notable historical figures, local histories against the national and international; sounds, memories, music and traditions in all their manifold wealth.

National Lottery funding will allow for the University of Leicester to work with the British Library to preserve its own unique and rare regional sounds and develop a range of engagement activities to connect the wider public with their sound heritage.

A vital element of ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’ will be an interactive website hosted by the British Library, allowing listeners to explore a wide selection of recordings. This website is scheduled to go live in 2019.

Dr Simon Dixon from the University of Leicester Special Collections said: “The University of Leicester has a long history of involvement in sound heritage, reflected in the work of the East Midlands Oral History Archive and projects such as Manufacturing Pasts and Affective Digital Histories. Unlocking Our Sound Heritage will enable us to develop this work across the midlands as one of ten regional centres working closely with the British Library to preserve this vital part of our past.”

Colin Hyde, from the East Midlands Oral History Archive at the University of Leicester, said: “For many years groups and individuals across the Midlands have been making a wide variety of sound recordings, but a large number of these haven’t been digitised and there is a danger they will not survive into the future. The University of Leicester has a long track record in supporting oral history work, both locally and regionally, and is ideally placed to work on this important project.”

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, added: “We are extremely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and all our supporters for recognising the urgent need to save these rare, unique recordings from around the UK. The British Library is the home of the nation’s sound archive, and we are delighted that this funding will help us preserve our audio heritage for people to explore and enjoy.”


Notes to editors:

For more information contact Dr Simon Dixon on or Colin Hyde on

‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’ has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Foyle Foundation, Headley Trust, the British Library Trust and the American Trust for the British Library and other kind donors.

For more information on the British Library’s Save Our Sounds project visit

About the British Library

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.

The British Library is home to the UK’s Sound Archive, a treasure trove of living history containing more than 6.5 million sounds including music, spoken word, oral history, wildlife and the environment dating back to the birth of recorded sound in the 19th century. Discover more and listen at

About the HLF

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about - from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery

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