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Shhh! It’s the sounds of the British Library

Stitched PanoramaI had some time to kill in the British Library in London a few weeks ago, so once I’d taken the time to visit their excellent gift shop, I wandered around recording the sounds of students clacking away on their laptops, the buzz of visitors in the foyer area and courtyard outside and the cafe inside.

The most interesting sound I came across, though, was the stamp collection, which you wouldn’t necessarily associate with even having its own sound. The hundreds of stamps are housed in sliding wooden display panels, which you can pull in and out from the wall to examine their treasures. It was in recording the sounds of people viewing the stamps by pulling out the display panels that I found something unique to that place.

I particularly wanted to get the British Library on the sound map because they have the most incredible archive of sounds available there (I’m proud to say my former band is part of the BL’s archive too) and one of the best sound-related blogs around, which I often return to. So it seemed only right to have the library as part of my own sonic archive too.

The remixed version wrote itself, really – taking the percussive hits from the display panels and generating rhythms from them to create a drum track out of the sounds of what should by rights be quite a quiet place.

City version:


Memory version: