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.

To search BHL for a specific scientific name at any taxonomic level, follow these steps:


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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

Currently, it is not possible to search inside of a book in BHL via the BHL interface. 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 one of two methods. Both of these methods will allow you to complete a simple keyword search on the full text in the book.

1) Search using the Internet Archive's interface
  1. From the book viewer screen, go to the upper right hand corner of the screen.
  2. From the drop-down menu of the "Download Contents" button, choose "View at Internet Archive"
  3. You are now viewing the item in the Internet Archive's book viewer.
  4. To search, select the magnifying glass to the right of the open book pages. Note: Do not use the top right search bar - this searches the entire Internet Archive Corpus.

2) Download and search the Full PDF
  1. From the book viewer screen, go to the upper right hand corner of the screen.
  2. From the drop-down menu of the "Download Contents" button, choose "Download Book"
  3. Select PDF - You will now download the entire digital object as a PDF with the full text included as a layer.
  4. To search, use your viewer's search tool (often a magnifying glass), or Ctrl+F (Command+F on a Mac)

IMPORTANT: Please remember that the full text provided by IA/BHL is uncorrected text derived through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) - it is automatically generated and not without error. This search-ability is an powerful research tool, but such searches should not be considered exhaustive.

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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

Using DOIs and Stable URLs

To use DOIs (short for Digital Object Identifiers) you can look for the DOI as part of a book’s bibliographic information. Not all books have DOIs in the BHL collection. To date we have assigned DOIs to books, but NOT to journals. We are working on assigning DOIs to articles for the future. When citing a work using its DOI you are referring to a permanent fixed reference that can survive beyond the life of its URL for example. To learn more about DOIs, please see

Stable URLs
Please see our information about using stable URLs here

Tips for Finding Images

Hidden within the pages of BHL books and journals are millions of visual resources including drawings, paintings, diagrams, maps, charts, tables, and photographs. They range in size from small, black and white line drawings interspersed within text to full page plate color images. Their content depicts just about every species discovered and studied for the past half-millennium on earth.

See these tips to learn how to find images in the BHL collection.

Learn how to find images of specific species or subjects in BHL's Flickr below. Note that Flickr supports Boolean searching to allow more sophisticated searches.
FindImagesInFlickr (1).jpg

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.

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2013 New BHL User Interface Guide

Printable user guide

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