The Library has physical and online collections of sound recordings, including music, sound effects, radio broadcasts and talking books. Use LibrarySearch to find sound recordings, or explore collections we’ve listed below.
Streaming music collections
Music Online searches across the entire suite of Alexander Street Press music databases. These collections cover streaming audio and video recordings of classical, popular and world music, as well as select full text from key print resources on world and African-American music, and digitised music scores.
You can also search the individual collections within Music Online. Search tactics vary from database to database:
African American Music Reference provides comprehensive coverage of black American musical expression from colonial times to the present, including blues, jazz, spirituals, civil rights songs, slave songs, minstrelsy, rhythm and blues, gospel, and other forms. It contains a wide range of material types, including audio, lyrics, and sheet music.
Select “audio” to listen to recordings over a wide variety of genres including blues, country, folk, and jazz.
Garland Encyclopedia of World Music is the first comprehensive online resource devoted to music research of all the world’s peoples. More than 9,000 pages of material and 300 audio recordings found in 9 albums, combined with entries by more than 700 expert contributors from all over the world, make this the most complete body of work focused on world music.
Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries produced in partnership with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, is a virtual encyclopedia of the world's musical and aural traditions. The collection provides educators, students, and interested listeners with an unprecedented variety of online resources that support the creation, continuity, and preservation of diverse musical forms.
The Library has a collection of music CDs in a variety of genres. Use LibrarySearch to find titles from this collection.
Non-music sound recordings
Streaming sound collections
AdForum provides access to over 150,000 advertisements, including more than 2,700 radio advertisements. Select the Radio drop down button in the Media section of the Advanced Search.
Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries is part of the Music Online. It provides access to more than 40 non-music sound recordings. To find non-music sound recordings go to Advanced Search, select Content Type, and select Non-music sound recording.
Here are some highlights:
The Lyrebird: A Documentary Study of Its Song (Folkways Records) - Hear the beautiful songs of the lyrebird, long recognized as the "greatest mimic in the world," recorded near Melbourne, Australia, by ornithologist K.C. Halafoff and Peter Bruce.
Sounds of Animals (Folkways Records) - This is an instructional recording of the sounds of different animals from the Detroit Zoo and The Cornell Behavioral Farm at Cornell University. The animal sounds are followed by explanations of the behavior that spurs the sound such as hunger calls for feeding, or distress calls for lost or cold.
Sounds of Carnival (Folkways Records)
Sounds of the Office (Folkways Records)
Soundgator from the RMIT’s Learning Repository has free sound effects available for use for educational purposes (as explained in the Copyright and Conditions of use notices).
Learning Repository Third Party Video and Audio collection includes television and radio broadcasts recorded under Part VA [Screenrights Licence] of the Copyright Act, and other video and audio files in the public domain used with permission, or used under licence (such as Creative Commons).
Look in LibrarySearch for:
- talking books, both fiction and nonfiction
- English language courses
- sounds and sound effects