Sound and vision blog

Sound and moving images from the British Library

02 October 2012

New broadcast media resources at the British Library



The British Library is piloting three major new television and radio resources within its St Pancras, Colindale and Boston Spa reading rooms. Together with our existing sound collections the Library is now providing instant onsite access to nearly a million sound and moving image items. Additionally, we are now giving access to programme and transmission data for a further 20 million recordings, a proportion of which can also be made available for onsite listening - with advance notice - on request.

The three services are:

BBC Pilot Service

This is a trial service produced by the BBC in collaboration with the British Library. It brings together the BBC's programme catalogue, Radio Times data and BBC television and radio programmes recorded off-air from mid-2007 to the end of 2011. There are currently approximately 2.2 million catalogue records and 190,000 playable programmes, both television and radio. The Pilot Service is being made available in the Library's Reading Rooms on a trial basis between October 2012 and March 2013 but we hope to extend and augment the service in the future.

Broadcast News

This service provides access to daily television and radio news and current affairs programmes from seventeen channels (fifteen TV, two radio) broadcast in the UK since May 2010, recorded off-air by the British Library. The programmes will be almost instantly available, with new programmes available in our Reading Rooms within hours of broadcast. We currently record forty-six hours per day, including television services of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News, Al-Jazeera English, NHK World, CNN, France 24, Bloomberg, Russia Today and China's CCTV News, plus key news and current affairs programmes from BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service. Many of the television programmes come with subtitles, which we have made word-searchable, greatly enhancing Broadcast News as a research resource.

TRILT (Television & Radio Index for Learning & Teaching)

TRILT is a database of all UK television and radio broadcasts since 2001 (and selectively back to 1995). It covers every channel, every broadcast and every repeat, some 15 million records so far and growing by a million per year. Produced by the British Universities Film & Video Council (BUFVC) it is regularly used by many universities but has never before been available to general users.

Broadcast News - Front page


For reasons of copyright and licence, the three services can only be made available in our Reading Rooms for registered British Library users. The sound and moving image items can be accessed at any of the dedicated multimedia terminals within each Reading Room. There are currently twenty-five terminals, at least one per Room, but this will soon be increased to sixty. Eventually we aim to equip every Reading Room terminal for multimedia access.

To access the new services just follow the link to Sound and Moving Image services from the front page of any Reading Room terminal equipped with headphones (you can't use your own headphones, please note).

We are keen to have feedback from users, and you will find a link to a survey at each of the multimedia terminals. Do fill it in and let us know your thoughts on the services and how you think we can develop things further.

Additional information on our moving image holdings and services is available on the Library's Help for Researchers pages.


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