UCB Libraries


How do I... find Audio?


  • Start Research
  • Spoken
  • For faculty
  • Music


Audio recordings that can be used in presentations and papers can be hard to find due to copyright laws and because they are not normally indexed like other print material. This How do I guide offers hints and tips to help you find many different kinds of audio recordings.


+ Finding Audio at CU

To find audio recordings at CU, regardless of format, (spoken recordings or music recordings) follow the steps below:


  • Chinook
  • Chinook Classic
  • Type your keywords in Chinook, eg Cosi fan tutti
  • On the left hand side of the screen select Music (Audio) as the format.

Open up the Advanced Keyword Search in Chinook and select Spoken or Music recordings as the Collection


  • To specifically find CDs, LPs or cassettes at CU, open up the Advanced Keyword Search in Chinook and select either CD, LP or cassette from the Sound Recordings drop down menu.

  • Enter your keywords as usual in the top searchboxes.
  • The record will usually include the word [soundrecording] in the title and have the relevant icon


































Locate Soundrecordings

  • Spoken recordings are found throughout the University Libraries


+ Audio on the Web

Why not use only Google or Yahoo to find audio recordings?
Audio search engines pull up endless pages of sound recordings. However, they do have some limitations.

  • Search engines do not index the collections of audio recordings mentioned in this guide, eg American Memory Project
  • Search engines may find hundreds of popular or specific sound recordings (e.g. Barack Obama) but it's hard to find broad topics (e.g. urban design).
  • Academic audio collections allow you to refine your search by date, subject and many other options.
  • Finding audio on the web does not authorize you to use it legally. Many sound recordings are protected by copyright.

For the best results, consult several sources in your search for audio recordings.

Search Engines

Audio Search http://websearch.about.com/od/imagesearch/a/audio.htm


Audio Search Engines: http://www.searchengineguide.com/pages/Computing/Multimedia/Audio/index.html


Fagan Finder Audio and Music Search Engines: http://www.faganfinder.com/audio/


Music: Sound Files http://www.dmoz.org/Arts/Music/Sound_Files/


MediaCrawler: Your Guide to the Media World
Searches both audio and video files on the Web, as well as for particular file types. 


Searches both audio and video files on the Web. Includes materials from radio and television broadcasts, as well as personal audio and video files.


SpeechBot: Audio Search Using Speech Recognition
Searches audio files of popular U.S. radio programs.

Finding "free" audio collections

Search the internet using the following terms:

  • public domain
  • free
  • copyright-free
  • royalty-free
  • sound(s)
  • audio
  • podcast
  • music

Some audio collections:


British Library

44,500 selected recordings of music, spoken word, and human and natural environments


1 million sound effects and musical instrument samples. 


NPR's Sound Directory Library

Listing of various resources that can be used to find audio files on the Web



Digital Librarian:  Audio, Video, Multimedia

This free resource provides an index to hundreds of free audio, sheet music, video and multimedia websites.



This site serves as an index to multiple WAV sound files for commercials, cinema, TV, and sound effects.  Includes a link to the very popular and in high-demand site, A1 Free Sound Effects, a fun resource  with over 700 free WAV sound effects that include everything from breaking glass to creaking doors to sirens.


International Sound Collections
National Library sound collections from around the world


Librarians Internet Index: Sound Recordings

+ Copyright

Once you find a link to a audio clip, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First, not all files can be copied to your PC. Some files can only be viewed using audio streaming. The advantage here is that the audio is downloaded in small fragments allowing users with slower Internet connections to view media files, which can be quite large. However, streaming files often prohibit the content from being copied locally. Common streaming files format are Windows Media and Real Media.


Still, many files can be downloaded to your PC. Many of the search engines will indicate on the results screen which files can be fully downloaded or just viewed. But, there is another concern here: copyright.


Just because you can download an audio clip does not always mean you have the right to use the clip in its entirety or in anyway you want. It is best to check with the copyright owner if possible before using a sound recording. For educators, researchers, and students, copyright law does provide some flexibility when it comes to using media for scholarly purposes.


These uses are typically allowed for copyrighted materials:


  • Download small numbers or percents onto a personal computer for personal education and research use
  • Use in work prepared for classes, such as written work, presentations, videos, posters and other forms
  • Use for presentations at conferences
  • Always attribute both the creator of the object or text and the source database
  • Seek permissions if desired use falls outside of these uses

Guidelines that can help you decide if you can use a clip for a particular purpose are available online. Here are some useful sites to consult:


American Library Association:  Distance Education and the Teach Act


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act 

University of Maryland University College

University of Texas Crash Course in Copyright


United States Code. Title 17-Copyrights. Legal Information Institute


Webster University (Bob Scheier and Emily Alling, Babson Library, Springfield College, Springfield, MA, Monique Threatt, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN)

+ Citing Audio

How do I cite? (Examples and links to style books)


Citing audio:


Persons primarily responsible for the item are named; their roles are identified in parentheses after their names.


The medium, placed in brackets, is supplied after the title. Media designations include [Audio recording], [CD] (for music CD), and [Motion picture] for both film and videotape.


Audio recording

Carter, B. (Speaker). (1977). The growth of English [Audio Recording]. New York: Audio Associates.


See also: Citing audio recordings: MLA, APA, Chicago




Revised AH 11/10
Created AH 09/08


Try these tips for finding spoken audio recordings online. For foreign languages, see the next tab.


+ Speeches

American Memory Project (Library of Congress)
Audio and moving images recordings relating to the history and culture of the United States. Audio recordings include folk music field recordings, recorded slave narratives and other oral histories, historical recordings of vaudeville and popular entertainment, speeches and important statements by US presidents.


American Rhetoric
5000+ full text, audio, and video versions of public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, and more. 


American Presidency Project (UC Santa Barbara)
Includes a small collection of historical presidental audio recordings.


Anti-Vietnam War Protests in the San Francisco Bay Area & Beyond
A chronology of the Vietnam war and war protests that includes audio and video recordings of notable events and speeches of the Vietnam war era.


Black Panther Party Recordings
Includes on-site recordings of Black Panther speeches and events, interviews with Black Panther Party leaders, as well as current and historic radio programs documenting the BPL.


Audio and video segments, including press briefings, congressional hearings, and more recent programs only. 

CSPAN Booknotes Online Archives
Free audio recordings (videos need to be purchased) of authors discussing notable books


Free Speech Movement Recordings
Includes on-site recordings of FSM speeches and events, interviews with FSM leaders and UC Berkeley campus administrators, as well as radio programs (1964-1966) documenting the FSM.


Great American Speeches
Audio and video versions of major U.S. speeches.


Historic Audio Archives

Collections highlighting "rogues 'n' heroes," Richard Nixon, Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler, the Civil Rights era, and recent U.S. political figures.


History Channel Speeches

Speeches by political leaders, sports figures, and other cultural personalities worldwide.


Historic UCB Lectures and Events
Recordings of notable lectures, poetry readings, and other events at UC Berkeley, 1956 to present.


History & Politics Out Loud
A searchable audio archive of significant political and historical events and personalities of the twentieth century.


Online Speech Bank
Indexes 5,000+ audio and video versions of "public speeches, sermons, legal proceedings, lectures, debates, interviews, other recorded media events."


The OYEZ Project

Online recordings of significant Supreme Court oral arguments


Richard M. Nixon Watergate tapes


Speech & Transcript Center: Historical Materials
Links to audio versions of various speeches, many by U.S. political figures. 


Truman Presidental Museum and Library Audio Collection


Voices of World War II: Experiences from the Front and at Home
Includes excerpts from radio broadcast, popular music, presidental speeches and addresses.


White House web site
Includes audio of speeches, addresses, and presidental statements.

Yahoo: Graduation Speeches
Includes audio files for selected graduation speeches given at U.S. colleges by major figures (e.g., Barbara Bush at Wellesley College in 1990).

+ Radio

America in the 1930s (American Studies Program, University of Virginia)
Includes clips from movies and radio broadcasts of the 1930s, as well as examples of print and material culture.


BBC Radio

Current and some archived or Listen Again audio


Historic Audio and Video
Clips from classic radio programs and news


Library of American Broadcasting
Oral histories, interviews, speeches, programming, commercials, news and other special events; thousands of recordings in a variety of formats, from early radio transcription discs to CDs of award winning radio commercials. Nothing circulates; fees for copy orders apply


National Public Broadcasting Archives
Brings together the archival record of the major entities of non-commercial broadcasting in the United States. Nothing circulates; fees for copy orders apply.


National Public Radio (NPR) Archives

Audio clips about topics presented on various NPR shows over the last 5+ years. Does not include everything ever presented on NPR.


Radio Broadcasts 1939-1943


Radio Days
Clips from classic radio programs and news


Radio Program Archive

From the University of Memphis


Radio Programs

Old Time Radio

Audio archives from the Internet Archive


World Radio Network, Live Streams

Includes streaming audio from various radio stations worldwide.

+ Oral Histories

American Memory Project (Library of Congress)
Audio and moving images recordings relating to the history and culture of the United States. Audio recordings include folk music field recordings, recorded slave narratives and other oral histories, historical recordings of vaudeville and popular entertainment, speeches and important statements by US presidents.


For further projects, please see the bibliography from H-Oral Hist.







Requests for duplication of audiovisual media are accepted at the Circulation desk.



+ Music Databases

Classical music library CU

The Classical Music Library contains over 50,000 tracks of streaming audio from 30+ labels. It focuses on classical music, and tries to cover established musical repertory by using the Music Library Association’s book A Basic Music Library: Essential Scores and Sound Recordings to establish a repertory. It also features a section where tracks can be put into personalized folders, as well as folders for class reserves.


Naxos music library CU

This database contains over 200,000 music tracks in streaming audio from the Naxos music label, in addition to the complete catalogs of BIS, Chandos, CPO, Hänssler, Hungaroton, and Marco Polo labels, and others. It also includes folk music, some world music, and jazz.


CU = Resources marked with this symbol are available in campus libraries and to students, staff, and faculty via the campus network. Use of these resources is subject to copyright laws and license limitations. Off-campus access information.