Deaccession Policy



The collection of the Biodiversity Heritage Library is centered around the legacy literature of taxonomy and systematics, and the literature that supports the interdisciplinary study of biodiversity. While we make every effort to incorporate materials relevant to the broad scope of biodiversity, the nature of the BHL as a mass digitization project does not always allow us to scrutinize every item that enters into the BHL collection. Although most of the items in BHL are digitized from the print collections of BHL member libraries, other content is ingested from the corpus of open access materials contributed to our scanning partner, the Internet Archive, by various libraries across the globe.


The collections of the BHL member libraries are considered relevant in that they are representative of the core scholarly biodiversity literature. Content ingested into the BHL from the Internet Archive or other open access databases may be removed if it is found to be irrelevant to the spectrum of scholarly biodiversity literature. Content will be removed contingent upon the approval of the BHL Collections Committee. If you feel that an item in BHL is not relevant, please feel free to submit your comments to our feedback form. If you feel that any content has been unnecessarily removed from BHL, please document the title or item ID number by copying the series of numbers following the forward slash “/” after the terms “title” or “item”. For example:
  • title ID number = 12345
  • item ID number = 12345

and submit your feedback to our form.

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Scan Quality

Content may be temporarily removed from BHL if the scan quality is so poor as to render the digital content unusable. Titles scanned from the collections of BHL member libraries will be resubmitted to the scanning queue and replaced.

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Copyright Concern

The BHL makes every effort to provide content within its collection that is freely and openly available for access and responsible reuse either under the public domain or a Creative Commons license. In-copyright materials are in the BHL collection with the express permission of the copyright holder. In rare cases, content may be removed if it is found to be in violation of copyright. Should a copyright holder make the BHL aware of a potential infringement of copyright, the BHL will confirm the claim and remove the content from its database (including the biodiversity collection of the Internet Archive). Works ingested from the Internet Archive corpus that are digitized by libraries other than BHL consortium libraries are the responsibility of the contributing library and not the BHL.

For the United States, the copyright cut-off date is 1923, meaning that worked published prior to this date are in the public domain and are not restricted from access or reuse in the United States. Earlier dates may apply in some cases. If you are outside the U.S., you will need to review the copyright laws of the country where you plan to use the materials. Post-1922 content is available in BHL for one or more of the following reasons:

For more information about U.S. copyright, please consult Peter B. Hirtle’s Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States, 1 January 2015. For any questions or concerns regarding the BHL collection and copyright, please contact the BHL Secretariat.

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