Inspiring discovery through free access to biodiversity knowledge.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library improves research methodology by collaboratively making biodiversity literature openly available to the world as part of a global biodiversity community.
BHL also serves as the literature component of the Encyclopedia of Life .

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What file types are available for download?
How do I download a PDF of the whole book?
How do I generate a custom PDF of selected pages from the book?
How do I download a single-page low resolution image?
How do I download a single-page high resolution image?
How do I download an image from flickr?
How do I download all the data about BHL books or scientific names?

Download Options

There are many ways to download resources, and some are better suited for certain purposes than others. Below you will see some common uses suggested on the "useful for" lines, but of course there are many more ways to use the BHL collection.

You can find most of these options when you click on the drop-down menu for "Download Contents" to see various options while viewing a book.


  • Bibliographic Information - allows you to download data about the book in MODS, BibTeX or RIS formats
    • Useful for: citations, bibliographic needs
  • Select pages to download - allows you to generate a custom pdf containing only the pages you need
    • Useful for: choosing pages from one article to print or save
  • Download Book has further options to view:
    • PDF = Download a PDF of the entire volume.
      Useful for: saving or printing the entire book, saving to read on a tablet
    • All = Download all files associated with this book - links to the Internet Archive where you have access to image files, metadata files, and other derivative files - more information about available files including descriptions and file types.
      Useful for: downloading the grayscale/black and white PDF version of a book (if available), and more
    • JP2 = Download ALL the jpeg2000 image files - there is one image per page, and each image file is usually 2-5MB so this can take quite a long time.
      Useful for: saving or printing most of a book in high resolution
    • OCR = Download the plain text of the entire volume. Note: the plain text is created automatically using optical character recognition (OCR) software and has not been corrected or edited by humans.
      Useful for: translating the text, searching for a particular word in a book, copying long passages
  • View at Internet Archive - takes you to a copy of the book at the Internet Archive
    • Useful for: searching inside the book, viewing it in a different interface

Other options include:

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Downloading a PDF of the Whole Book

From the BHL book viewer
  1. Select the Download Contents drop down menu
  2. Choose "Download Book"

Finally, select the "Download PDF" link to receive a PDF of the whole book

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Generate a Custom PDF of Selected Pages

DO NOT use this method to generate a PDF of the whole book. Rather see instructions above.

Locating the article

If you have a specific article in mind, for example, “Abundance and Distribution of Queen Conch Veligers (Strombus gigas Linne) in the Central Bahamas. I. Horizontal Patterns in Relation to Reproductive and Nursery Grounds” from the Journal of Shellfish Research, v. 16, pp. 7-18) by Allan W. Stoner and Megan Davis.

1. From the BHL homepage, enter “Journal of Shellfish Research” into the title search box.
2. Select the volume 16 from the results.
3. You will be taken directly to volume 16. Choose "Select pages to download" from the "Download Contents" menu on the upper right hand side of the Book viewer.

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Creating the PDF

1. A grid of the pages will appear. Select the pages you'd like to include.
2. Choose "Review" from the menu bar in the center of the Book Viewer.
3. If the pages displayed are correct, select "Generate My PDF" at the bottom of the pop-up. Otherwise, you may edit this screen to remove pages, or go back to the page-selection grid.
4. Please enter the email address you'd like us to send your completed PDF, along with any title, author, or subject descriptors.
5. You will receive a link to download your PDF and a confirmation number.

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If you have questions or need to report a problem, please contact us and include the PDF generation confirmation number.

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Print / Download Single Page (Screen Quality)

If you only need one page image from a book, you can right click (Command + click on your Mac) on the page you want, and usually choose "Save As" or "Open image in new window" - this will give you a screen-quality jpeg of the page.

You can also select the "Print" icon to print a single page image from the book.

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Download Single Page (High Quality) JPG

To retrieve a static JPG image from any page in BHL, use the following:,width,height. For example,[pageID],[width],[height] (i.e.,400,600). If width and height values are not specified, the image returned will default to 200W and 300H. Note that because of how the Internet Archive's image servers fulfill requests, the actual images returned will be close to the specified dimensions, but not exact.

To retrieve a full-size, full-resolution JPG image of any BHL page, use the following: For example,

Then right-click on the image to save it to your computer.

Download Single Page (High Quality) JPEG2000

JPEG2000 vs. JPEG
The JPEG2000 file format provides the highest quality image BHL has to offer. Contributing institutions, described through the Contributor field in the BHL user interface may be able to provide TIFF image files upon request. While the JP2 file size itself may not be larger than the "(High Quality) JPG" file retrieved via the method above, it is a less lossy format and thus provides greater image quality. "JPEG 2000 only produces ringing artifacts, manifested as blur and rings near edges in the image, while JPEG produces both ringing artifacts and 'blocking' artifacts, due to its 8×8 blocks." --

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View in Google Docs
You can download the instructions in PDF and multiple text formats.

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Link to BHL from Flickr

Did you find a great image in Flickr and want to access a higher resolution image of it? You can follow the instructions above to download a high quality JPEG or high resolution JPEG2000s from BHL. But how do you navigate from Flickr to BHL in order to access these download options? The BHL link to every image in Flickr is contained in the image descriptions field. Simply click on the link to access the image in BHL, and then follow the download instructions above.


Download All the Data

Interested in downloading all the scientific names identified within the BHL corpus? Yes! I so am!
Want to download a complete list of titles in the BHL collection? For sure!

Visit our Data Exports and Developer Tools and API pages for more information.
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