Biodiversity Heritage Library: 150,000 Copyright-free Images

Decorative: A cephalopod from the collection


"Over 150,000 Botanical Illustrations Enter the Public Domain" (post) links to and gives a brief introduction to "[a] huge collection of flora and fauna illustrations that just entered the public domain" through the Biodiversity Heritage Library.

  • The BHL Blog is a good place to start browsing the highlights.

1. "[T]he Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), the world’s largest open-access digital archive dedicated to the natural world, is now offering more than 150,000 high-resolution illustrations for copyright-free download."

  • "These public domain images belong to an archive of more than 55 million pages of literature about earth’s species of flora and fauna."
  • "They include animal sketches, historical diagrams, botanical studies, and scientific research collected from hundreds of thousands of journals and libraries across the world."
  • "Some of the illustrations date back to the 15th century."
  • "To enhance research, the library also offers search features to find species by taxonomy and an option to follow online conversations about books and articles in the archive" -- or browse for personal pleasure.

2. From "About the Biodiversity Heritage Library":

  • "BHL is revolutionizing global research by providing free, worldwide access to knowledge about life on Earth."
  • "To document Earth’s species and understand the complexities of swiftly-changing ecosystems in the midst of a major extinction crisis and widespread climate change, researchers need something that no single library can provide – access to the world’s collective knowledge about biodiversity."
  • "BHL operates as a worldwide consortium of natural history, botanical, research, and national libraries working together to address this challenge by digitizing the natural history literature held in their collections and making it freely available for open access as part of a global 'biodiversity community.'"
  • "BHL provides a range of services, data exports, and APIs to allow users to download content, harvest source data files, and reuse materials for research purposes."

3. Some of its fun and fascinating 57 collections include the following:

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