Audiovisual heritage plays a significant and growing role in framing our memory of the past hundred years, and the British Library holds the national sound collection, consisting of over 1.5 million discs, tapes and audio files, containing over seven million recordings. These cover the broadest possible spectrum, from historical, dramatic and wildlife material to all genres of music. Today, they face the twin threats of degradation and the obsolescence of access technology.
Elsewhere, throughout the UK, there are hundreds of thousands of audio recordings held in public and private collections which further add to the richness of our collective memory. Archival consensus internationally holds that we have approximately 15 years in which to digitise all our audio and video material; by around 2030, the scarcity of legacy replay equipment and spare parts will render.