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 .

Have general questions or notice a problem? Please let us know! Use our contact form

Need help downloading something from BHL? See our Download Help page.

Simple Search Tips

  • Enter keywords in a string:
    • Example: Darwin origin species
  • For an exact search, enter a phrase in quotes:
    • Example: "origin of species"
  • Enter keywords in parentheses:
    • Example: (origin OR descent) AND Darwin
  • Search terms are combined with AND operators by default.
  • Wildcards are not allowed. Instead try using the OR operator
    • Example: Linne OR Linnaeus
  • Punctuation is ignored.
  • Words are not case-sensitive.
  • At this time, search does not include searching of the full-text across all items in BHL.

Advanced Search


Under the Advanced Search options, available via you can restrict your search to:

  • Articles/Chapters

    Articles/Chapters allows you to take advantage of any article/chapter metadata that has been made available, by searching the following fields:
    • Article/Chapter Title
    • Journal/Book Title
    • Author Last Name
    • Year
    NOTE: A limited number of articles/chapters are indexed in the BHL. Should you not find the article/chapter you are searching for, try searching for the title of the journal within which the article occurs and navigating to the specific page where the article/chapter is expected to begin. The majority of articles/chapters/parts are identified and indexed via As BioStor's index grows, so will BHL's.

  • Scientific Names

    Biodiversity Heritage Library uses Global Names Architecture's Global Names Recognition and Discovery (GNRD), a taxonomic name recognition algorithm, to search through all of the texts digitized in BHL and extract the scientific names. Searching for a name will return a list of all the individual pages where that name occurs.

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Creating a Scientific Name Bibliography by URL

To easily link into a list of all pages containing a given scientific name, use the following URL:

Where Scientific_name is any uninomial, binomial, or trinomial. Replace spaces with the underscore ( _ )character.

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Searching Inside a Book

We are currently working on a new iteration of BHL that will enable searching across the full text content of the entire corpus.

Until that functionality is made available, you can search within each individual book using the Internet Archive's interface.
From the drop-down menu for "Download Contents", choose "View at Internet Archive" - the book viewer at Internet Archive has a search box in the upper right corner of the book viewer. From this search box, you can do a simple keyword search on the full text (uncorrected OCR) in the book.

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Known Item Searches using Google

If you know the title of the item you are looking for and none of the other approaches to searching the BHL corpus has worked for you, try doing a site-specific Google search of BHL. To do this:
  1. go to
  2. in the search box, enter your search terms
  3. after your search terms, add
  4. press enter!

This makes it possible to use Google's search algorithm on BHL's website (searches book metadata).

Example search:
Enter the following string into Google:
resultats campagnes scientifiques accomplies

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You can browse through the BHL's digital collections by Title, Author, Date, or Collection.
Collections are lists of titles on a particular theme or from a particular partner library.

To browse effectively, we recommend that users take advantage of their browser's Find features (Generally Ctrl+F for PCs and Command+F for Macs). This will allow you to search within the 'results' of these browse features.

Choosing Title will give you a list of all items in BHL alphabetically by Title.
  • Ignores leading English articles such as The, A, An, etc.
  • Does not ignore non-English leading articles such as La, Die, etc.
  • Use your browser's Find feature to locate specific articles.
  • Not all Articles/Chapters/etc have been identified in BHL. Do not rely solely upon this search feature - if you cannot locate your article through direct searching, try locating the containing book, volume, journal, etc and then locating a the article within.

This is also a useful feature when looking through our author lists - choose the starting letter of the last name of the author in question, and then search the results using your browser to locate the author you require.

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Item Not in BHL?

Not finding what you're looking for? Consider submitting a Scanning Request, and help us to grow BHL's digital collections.
For more information, see our Guidelines for Submitting Scanning Requests

Tagging Images for BHL

BHL makes many of the images in its collection available in Flickr. We ask users to help us add species name machine tags to these images to identify the species illustrated. These tags will eventually be ingested back into BHL to enhance our metadata and enable image search within our portal.

See these instructions to learn how to help us add tags to our images.

Adding Comments to Books in BHL

You can now add comments to books in BHL. The new commenting feature is powered by Disqus.


To add comments to books in BHL, click on the "Add Comments" tab in the book viewer. If there are any existing comments on the page you are viewing, this tab will display these comments and provide you with a box to enter your own comments. If there are no comments on the page, you will be prompted to add the first comment to the page. Comments are added at the page-level, meaning that as you scroll through the book, the "Add Comments" tab will display only the comments posted to the page you are viewing. Any comments you add will be associated with the page you are viewing when you add the comment.

You must have a Disqus account to comment on books in BHL. You can login to your Disqus account via the "Add Comments" tab. If you do not have a Disqus account, you can create one from within the comments tab.

You can see all of the comments added to any book in BHL on the BHL Profile Page on Disqus. You can access this page by clicking on "View BHL's Community" on the "Add Comments" tab in BHL. Simply "follow" BHL on Disqus to receive notification of any new comments added to any books in BHL. These notifications will appear in the "Recommended" feed on your personal Disqus homepage.

If you follow BHL on Disqus, you will receive notification of any new comments added to books in BHL via the "Recommended" feed on your personal Disqus homepage.

You can see all comments added to a particular book in BHL by clicking on the "Community" link in the "Add Comments" tab in BHL, which will take you to the book's "forum" in Disqus. To receive notification about new comments added to only that book, "follow" the book's forum. These notifications will appear in the "Latest Discussions" feed on your personal Disqus homepage.

Click on the "Community" link in the "Add Comments" tab to see a book's forum in Disqus, which will display all of the comments added to just that book.

If you follow a book's forum, you will receive notification of new comments added to that book in the "Latest Discussions" feed on your personal Disqus homepage.

View this blog post for more information about the commenting feature and Disqus: [link TBD]

Please note that BHL reserves the right to monitor comments added to our library and remove any that do not comply with the terms of use as stated in the "Interactive Features and User-Generated Content" section on this page: Terms of Use .

Have questions or comments about this feature? Send us feedback.

This feature has been added as part of BHL's Mining Biodiversity project . Mining Biodiversity is funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (Grant number LG-00-14-0032-14).

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2013 New BHL User Interface Guide

Printable user guide

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Created: lipscombb Sep 24, 2009 11:56 am
Revised: dukeg1 Dec 1, 2015 7:40 am (157 revisions)
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