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 .

There are many ways to get involved and contribute to BHL’s success and growth.


Financial contributions from individual and corporate donors represent an important part of BHL’s financial sustainability. From digitization support to endowments for ongoing technological enhancements and leadership continuity, BHL offers a range of meaningful opportunities for those wishing to make a financial contribution.

Support BHL’s digital collection growth: Donate

Learn more about BHL’s campaign and endowment opportunities:

Thank you to our supporters!


As a digital library, BHL offers a range of volunteer opportunities for individuals to contribute their time and expertise from anywhere, any time.

Current opportunities include:

Image Classification

Science Gossip.jpg
Through a partnership with Zooniverse, BHL is pleased to present Science Gossip, a project designed to help us unlock the history of citizen science. In the Victorian period, just like today, scientists and members of the public worked together to further scientific discovery. Help us classify drawings from Victorian periodicals, such as Science Gossip, Recreative Science and The Intellectual Observer.

Text Correction Games

As a result of the Purposeful Gaming and BHL Project, we are pleased to announce the launch of two crowdsourcing games, Smorball and Beanstalk. The games, created by Dartmouth College's Tiltfactor, will help improve access to books and journals online in the BHL collection by verifying the accuracy of text previously encoded by optical character recognition software. Development of these games was made possible in large part thanks to funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services:

Winner of "best serious game" at the Boston Festival of Indie Games

Players of the more challenging Smorball game are asked to type the words they see as quickly and accurately as possible to help coach their team, the Eugene Melonballers, to victory to win the coveted Dalahäst Trophy in the fictional sport of Smorball. Each word typed correctly defeats an opposing smorbot and brings the Melonballers closer to the championships.

Play now: Smorball

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 3.16.02 PM.jpg

Players of the more relaxed Beanstalk game must type the words presented to them correctly in order to grow their beanstalk from a tiny tendril to a massive cloudscraper. The more words they type correctly, the faster the beanstalk grows. Players who accurately transcribe the most words will ascend to the top of the leaderboard as a result of their valuable contributions.

Play now: Beanstalk

Image Tagging

BHL books contain thousands of illustrations and we’ve made over 100,000 of those available on Flickr. In addition to being a great visual resource on their own, many of these images are also harvested by our partners the Encyclopedia of Life (EOL). Those images are then associated with pages that contain information about each species, links to mentions of those species in BHL, distribution maps, and a myriad of images and other media. But we need help in order to get those images harvested! Learn about how you can help by checking out our machine tagging tutorial.

Transcribe field notes

In addition to published biodiversity literature, BHL is thrilled that our digital corpus includes a growing body of scientists’ field notes and related archival materials. However, the largely handwritten nature of these materials aren’t well-suited to BHL’s OCR (optical character recognition) tools that help to search within a given page on the BHL portal. Thanks to partnerships with the Smithsonian Transcription Center, the Atlas of Living Australia, and FromThePage, many of these field books are being made available for crowdsourcing transcriptions that can be added to BHL alongside the original notebooks. Help us unlock the valuable data and information in these rich resources by visiting one of our partners transcription sites.


BHL Member and Affiliate institutions work together to improve research methodology by making biodiversity literature openly available to the world. The consortium is structured to accommodate institutions of various sizes, funding, and capacity. Learn about different levels of participation to see if they might be right for your organization.

Contribute Content

Would you like to contribute content to the BHL collection?
  • Yes, and I know the copyright holders!
    If you or an organization you work with owns the copyright, you can help us broker permission to digitize the content. BHL uses a standard licensing agreement form signed by the rights holder and the BHL Program Director which allows us to legally add in-copyright content to our free and open access collection. Our standard agreement applies a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. In order to proceed, please contact us with the following information:
      • Publication title(s) and date range(s)
      • Licensor information
      • Name and title of the person who can sign on behalf of the Licensor

  • We prefer to digitize the physical copies through our standard workflow as this is the most efficient and effective means for rendering exactly the derivative files we need to make the virtual book work as expected through our website. We will review the collections of our consortium partner libraries for holdings. It is not typical that we request materials from publishers but should we find we are missing any issues we will be in contact to kindly request donations, if at all possible. BHL accepts electronic content, either already-digitized or born-digital, from U.S. based organizations through the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature grant project. Non-US based organizations are still encouraged to contribute electronic content, however our resources for metadata processing and content integration are limited at this time.
  • Please review our Permissions page for more information.

  • Yes, but I do NOT know the copyright holders.
    If you do not own the copyright you can help by connecting us with someone who does. Please review our Permissions page for more information and contact us.

Provide Feedback

Do you have a question, comment or suggestion for improvement? Is there a publication that you would like to see added to BHL? Let us know!

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