Biodiversity Heritage Library


The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.” The BHL consortium works with the international taxonomic community, rights holders, and other interested parties to ensure that this biodiversity heritage is made available to a global audience through open access principles. In partnership with the Internet Archive and through local digitization efforts, the BHL has digitized more than 40 million pages of taxonomic literature, making nearly 111,000 volumes available for unrestricted scholarly use.


William Ulate, BHL Technical Director




The BHL Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of web services that can be invoked via HTTP queries (GET/POST requests) or SOAP. Responses can be received in one of three formats: JSON, XML, or XML wrapped in a SOAP envelope. The documentation for the latest version of the API, v2, can be found at The first version of the API was limited to data related to scientific names found in the BHL collection; version 2 adds access to title, author, volume, and page information. Please note that users are required to obtain an API Key from in order to use version 2 of the API. This is the preferred version of the API.


BHL’s OpenURL resolver provides an API for finding articles, chapters, and other pages within BHL.  This API can be used to match bibliographic citations in scientific databases to the open access literature in BHL.


Metadata about the books in the BHL collection is published via OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting). Descriptive metadata is provided in the form of either Dublin Core or MODS. OAI-PMH is a protocol used for publishing and harvesting metadata descriptions of records in an archive. The OAI-PMH endpoint for BHL is

Data Exports: A series of files is now available for download that will enable libraries and other data providers to identify digitized titles available within BHL. These files also include metadata about each volume scanned, as well as information about the millions of scientific names that have been identified throughout the BHL corpus and the pages on which those names occur.  Files are available in EndNote XML, BibTex, and custom tab-delimited text files at:

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