NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Bookshelf Help [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Center for Biotechnology Information (US); 2005-.

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Bookshelf Help [Internet].

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Frequently Asked Questions

Created: ; Last Update: March 6, 2012.

Bookshelf User Questions

Why are parts of some Table of Contents not hyperlinked?

Most of the books in our collection are provided in collaboration with the book publishers. Some of the publishers prefer that we do not provide access to the books via the Table of Contents. All of the book content is available by searching, however. In the Table of Contents, books with chapter titles underlined are hyperlinked to all of the content of that chapter. If a chapter title is not underlined, then that chapter is searchable but not browsable.

Can I use figures and tables from Bookshelf?

You must check the copyright of the book first.

If the book is published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) or another US government agency, then the book with indicate the publication is in the public domain when you click on the “Copyright Notice” link at the top of the Table of Contents Page. In this case, you must take the next step of looking at the individual figures and tables that you want to use. We may have obtained permissions from other publishers for the use of the figures and tables. These permissions are noted on each figure and table. Where no permission is noted, you are free to use the figure or table.

If the book is published by another publisher, the name of the copyright holder is at the bottom of each page with the copyright symbol and year of publication. For these books, you will need to contact the copyright holder for use of all figures and tables in the books. To contact the copyright holder for permission, check the publisher’s website for “rights and permissions” information by clicking on the publisher’s link on the book’s Table of Contents page.

When will the next edition of a book come out on Bookshelf?

The books we host have been given to us by the publishers (we do not pay them any kind of fee). We hope that the publishers will want to continue to collaborate with us and will ask that the next edition of their book be placed on Bookshelf. Each book is viewed as a new candidate for Bookshelf. Whether the next edition of a book comes out on Bookshelf depends on whether we have a new agreement for that edition with the publisher. The publisher must contact us with this request. You may also contact the publisher directly to request that the next edition be placed on Bookshelf.

You may find links to each book’s publisher on the book’s Table of Contents page.

PubMed is a database of citations and abstracts for journal articles, books and documents. Bookshelf, the books division of the NLM Literature Archive (LitArch), is an online collection of full-text books, reports, databases and other documents. Some Bookshelf contents have a corresponding entry in PubMed (See PubMed Help for details on how to find Books content from PubMed searches). PubMed will not have citations for certain types of Bookshelf material, such as Help Documentation, that are considered out of scope for PubMed.

Bookshelf and PubMed are also interlinked in a variety of ways. PubMed citations have links to Bookshelf documents which cite them (see PubMed Help on how to view these links). Similarly, journal citations appearing in the bibliography of a Bookshelf document include links to that citation’s PubMed record. You can also view PubMed citations related to a Bookshelf publication or its chapters via the “Related citations in PubMed” panel on the right on book and chapter pages.

Why do some books have PDF files and others do not?

PDF files are made for several books created by NCBI. Some publishers also make available a PDF version of the full-text publication on Bookshelf. Those books that have PDFs available for the entire publication have a “PDF version of this title” link on the right-hand side of the Table of Contents and all chapter pages. If PDFs are available for each chapter of a publication, there will be a “PDF version of this page” link on the right-hand side of all chapter pages.

Adobe Reader is required to view PDF files. The software is free and can be downloaded from the Adobe Web site:

May I suggest a book for Bookshelf?

For a book to be featured on Bookshelf, we need the author or publisher to contact us expressing an interest in participating in the project. If you feel strongly about having a particular book included on Bookshelf, we suggest you contact the author or publisher regarding the idea.

You may find links to each book’s publisher on the book’s Table of Contents page.

Our email address is vog.hin.mln.ibcn@flehskoob.

Can I be notified when a new book is added to Bookshelf?

Bookshelf announces new books via an RSS feed. Subscribe to the Bookshelf feed here.

How do I cite books from Bookshelf?

You can find information about how to cite a book on Bookshelf by clicking on the “Cite this Page” link at the top of that book’s Table of Contents page. Information about how to cite a page of a book, such as a chapter, is available in the “Cite this Page” link at the top right of that page. These citations are based on NLM style.

Can I buy books from Bookshelf?

No. As a library, we do not sell books; rather, we collect and display them for people to use in agreement with the book publishers. To purchase books, you will need to contact the publishers directly. The publishers’ websites can be found by clicking on the publishers’ links in the book details at the top of the book’s Table of Contents page.

How can I order a SAMHSA TIP?

To request a print copy of a TIP publication, go to this Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) webpage: From this page, you can either make a request using SAMHSA’s online catalog, or you can call SAMHSA at this toll free number: 800-729-6686 (toll free) or 301-468-2600; 800-487-4889 (TDD hearing impaired) and ask for an information specialist; and 877-767-8432 (toll free) Hablamos Español and request the TIP you want to be mailed to you.

How can I order Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments (ERTAs) or Comparative Effectiveness Reviews?

The Evidence Reports/Technology Assessments (ERTAs) and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews (CERs) are provided to Bookshelf by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). AHRQ has a publications clearinghouse, which can be accessed through this link:

Author and Publisher Questions

How can I participate in Bookshelf?

Bookshelf has a review process for all new content proposals. The book must fall within the scope of core biomedical topics as defined in the NLM Collection Development Manual. Books or resources must also qualify based on the scientific quality of the content and the technical quality of its digital files. Publishers must provide Bookshelf the full text of content in XML format using a mutually agreed DTD. Please see Information for Authors and Publishers for more information.

Who may contribute to Bookshelf?

Books and resources may be proposed for inclusion by authors, editors and publishers. Authors and editors should first agree on the application with the book publisher or copyright holder. Books and resources must qualify on two main levels: on the scientific and editorial quality of the content, and on the technical quality of the digital files. Please see Information for Authors and Publishers for more information.

What types of material may be submitted to Bookshelf?

As an archive, Bookshelf strives to represent the range of biomedical, health and life sciences books and resources available to scientists, health professionals, educators and students, and consumers, including specialist research, resources for university-level teaching, works on methods and procedures, and clinical reports and guidelines. Those books and resources that can be integrated with other resources available at NCBI, such as PubMed, Gene, OMIM, and PubChem, are of particular interest. Works consisting entirely of original research articles are not acceptable.

Will new editions or versions of the same book or resource in Bookshelf automatically get included?

No, new editions and versions of books and resources in Bookshelf are considered new books and resources and will require review. Please see Information for Authors and Publishers for more information about the review process.

Copyright to all materials deposited in Bookshelf remains with the publisher or individual authors/editors, whichever is applicable. Bookshelf is simply an online collection and does not claim copyright on any material in the collection. Some books and resources have been specifically written for Bookshelf, but in these cases the material is either in the public domain or the authors have retained copyright. See Copyright and Permissions for more information.

Can publishers continue to provide the content of their books or resources on other sites in addition to Bookshelf?

A publisher participating in Bookshelf is free to distribute its content in any other manner, including through other websites. In fact, Bookshelf will provide a publisher a copy of its content from Bookshelf, at any time, to be used however the publisher chooses.

In what electronic formats may data be submitted to Bookshelf?

Bookshelf requires that data be submitted in XML (Extensible Markup Language), using a mutually agreed upon DTD (Document Type Definition). The original high-resolution, digital image files must also be provided for all figures. A PDF of the book or book chapters, if available, should be submitted in addition to the XML version. Supplementary material, in the form of video, sound, datasets, or software files that accompany the book or resource should also be submitted.

Does Bookshelf have its own DTD? Must data be submitted in this format?

Bookshelf uses the Book DTD of the NLM Journal Article Tag Suite for maintainence of its XML data. Any publisher may choose to submit data conforming to this DTD format. Bookshelf will also accept data in other full-text DTDs that are widely used in publishing.

Does Bookshelf require that the full-text of books and resources to be freely available to all users?

In special cases, Bookshelf will restrict users from being able to browse through a book, although all books and resources on Bookshelf are fully searchable. Over 95% of books in Bookshelf are fully browsable.

How can an author or publisher be sure that Bookshelf will not alter the substance or meaning of submitted content?

Bookshelf does not change the substance or meaning of submitted books and resources in any way. Bookshelf does an independent automated and manual check of the accuracy of the XML and related files. The publisher is also asked to review its content in Bookshelf before a book or resource is released to the public.

Bookshelf’s checking includes a comparison of the content in Bookshelf to the PDF or print version of the book or resource. When discrepancies are found, the publisher is asked to provide corrections.

How are citations of books and resources submitted to PubMed?

Bookshelf will submit a citation to PubMed for a subset of books and resources included in its collection, as determined by NLM. Citations of Bookshelf contents in PubMed are based on Citing Medicine, 2nd edtion. For more information about the search and display of book citations in PubMed, see the NLM Technical Bulletin.

What kinds of usage statistics does Bookshelf provide to participating publishers?

Upon request, Bookshelf will provide publishers monthly or quarterly usage reports that will show for that period, the number of unique IP addresses that have accessed the participant’s content and the total retrieval of this content, broken down by format (e.g., full-text HTML view, PDF, etc). NLM’s privacy policy does not allow the identification of use made by specific individuals, organizations or IP addresses, so usage reports will not include such data.

How can I find out when Bookshelf adds a new book or resource?

The Bookshelf announces new books via an RSS feed. Subscribe to the Bookshelf feed here.

Librarian Questions

Are MARC records available for books on Bookshelf?

Yes, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Cataloging Section maintains MARC 21 records for Bookshelf titles. As batches become available, they may be downloaded by release date from Bookshelf’s public ftp site at:

It is also possible to view all Bookshelf titles with MARC records by using LocatorPlus at, searching for "Electronic link: see Bookshelf via NCBI", and limiting by "Call Number - (include punctuation and spaces)". From these results, click on each LocatorPlus record to view the MARC record.

If you have a question not addressed in the FAQ, contact the Bookshelf Help Desk.

PubReader format: click here to try


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