Archival Sound Recordings was one of the first projects to be funded under the JISC Digitisation Programme. The British Library released its initial batch of recordings online in 2007, and has continued to add new (and old !) recordings to this fascinating resource. There are now some 50,000 recordings available, including oral histories, classical music, wildlife recordings and environmental soundscapes.
Recent statistics demonstrate how engaging the site is. From April 2010 to March 2011, there were 2.4m hits on the website, with the recordings listened to over a quarter of a million times.
One of the most popular collections is British Wildlife Recordings, sounds of UK birds, animals and fauna. These incredible recordings were listed to over 75,000 times. In fact 18 of the 20 most popular individual recordings were from this collection.
The five most popular individual wildlife recordings were:
1. Buzzard recorded in woodland in Cumbria – 1,916 listens
2. Nightingale recorded on Brownsea Island, near Poole – 1,853 listens
3. ‘Boom’ of the Bittern, Hinkling Broad, Norfolk – 1,697 listens
4. The call of a Red Fox recorded at Rye Grove, Surrey – 1,575 listens
5. The call of the hedgehog, North Scotland – 1,556 listens
Excluding the wildlife recordings, five of the next popular listens are
1. Interview with unidentified borstal inmate used in preparing the book ‘Horse power and magic’ – 1,610 listens
2. ‘Go to sleep my baby, close your pretty eyes’ from the Traditional Music in England Collection – 824 views
3. Kodungallur Devi, Bharani song from the Music in India collections – 756 listens
4. Edith Birkin describing her arrival in Auschwitz, from the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust collection – 625 listens
5. English Conversation: At the Tobacconist’s (including JRR Tolkein) – 557 listens