University involved in major audio preservation project

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 our University.

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.

National Lottery funding will allow for our University 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.

Dr Simon Dixon, from our 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 our University, 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.”