Eco-Geek Out with Biodiversity Heritage Library Updates

Illustration: Universal Natural History Dictionary, Biodiversity Heritage Library.
Illustration: Universal Natural History Dictionary, Biodiversity Heritage Library.

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is a consortium of natural history institutions that cooperate to digitize the biodiversity literature, illustrations, and other works in their collections, making it freely available to the world. A self-described “global biodiversity community,” the organization’s mission is to improve research methodologies and inspire discovery through free access to biodiversity knowledge.

As an eco-geek myself, I love getting lost in this site because it’s so full of mesmerizing wonderment! From vintage illustrations to engaging articles, it’s a must-visit if you cherish life on Earth.

Universal Access to Biodiversity Knowledge

BHL’s parent organization, Smithsonian Libraries, best describes the organization’s purpose:

“By providing free access to biodiversity knowledge, BHL is helping scientists identify and conserve life on Earth. Scientists have long considered that insufficient access to the published literature, much of which is available in only a few select libraries in the developed world, is one of the chief impediments to the efficiency of research in the field. By removing boundaries to access, BHL is repatriating knowledge to all parts of the globe, strengthening scientific and conservation efforts on every continent.”

You can donate to support the Biodiversity Heritage Library here.

Biodiversity Heritage Library Illustrations
Illustrations from the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Latest Posts from the Biodiversity Heritage Library

“Towards the latter end of November, 1860, a proposal was made to organize a Botanical Society. There being no such Institution in operation in Canada, it was thought that much benefit might result from its... Read more
Published on: 2020-05-28
By Grace Costantino
Dr. Nick Pyenson, Curator of Fossil Marine Mammals in the National Museum of Natural History’s Department of Paleobiology, has been a longtime user and advocate for BHL. The historic data accessible through publications in BHL... Read more
Published on: 2020-05-21
By Grace Costantino
Art is an integral part of scientific investigation and documentation. Before the advent of photography, illustrations were used to capture the natural world and share it with broader audiences through reproduction via woodcuts, engravings and... Read more
Published on: 2020-05-14
By Grace Costantino
We are pleased to welcome Colleen Funkhouser as the new BHL Program Manager. As Program Manager, Ms. Funkhouser will work to build strategic partnerships and to maintain and grow the infrastructure and services of BHL.... Read more
Published on: 2020-04-07
By Grace Costantino
BHL is pleased to announce that it has added its bibliographic records to OCLC’s WorldCat® database, “the world's largest network of library content and services.” You can now find BHL e-books via With thousands... Read more
Published on: 2020-03-31
By Bianca Crowley
BHL’s digital library provides free and open online access to over 250,000 volumes from the 15th-21st centuries on a wide range of biodiversity subjects. These collections offer great resources to support distance learning. All of... Read more
Published on: 2020-03-17
By Grace Costantino
In 1868, one of the first serious botanical works in Canada was published. Entitled Canadian Wild Flowers, the work treated nearly three dozen of “the most remarkable” wildflowers found in Canada. The publication is notable... Read more
Published on: 2020-03-12
By Grace Costantino
On behalf of numerous partners and stakeholders, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) will convene a virtual workshop and international consultation in March and April 2020 with the aim of fleshing out a shared vision,... Read more
Published on: 2020-03-03
By Grace Costantino
Published in 1914, Butterflies of Australia by Gustavus Athol Waterhouse and George Lyell was the first comprehensive work on Australian butterflies to appear in Western scientific literature. It is a thick and rather chunky volume,... Read more
Published on: 2020-02-27
By BHL Guest Author
At the end of the twentieth century, the The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, The Harvard University Herbaria, and The Australian National Herbarium began collaboration on an ambitious project—to create an online index of names for... Read more
Published on: 2020-02-20
By Grace Costantino
This Wikipedia Editing Workshop has been postponed for a later date. Please stay tuned - we will update when a new date is determined. As a public health precaution, the Smithsonian is postponing or canceling... Read more
Published on: 2020-02-11
By Grace Costantino
John Sibthorp's Flora Graeca (1806-1840) has been described as "the most costly and beautiful book devoted to any flora" [1]. Dedicated to the plants of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean, only 30 subscriptions were sold... Read more
Published on: 2020-02-06
By Grace Costantino


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