Bookshelf is an online searchable collection of more than1000 books, reports, databases, and other scholarly literature in biology, medicine, and the life sciences developed and managed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health.

As the books division of the NLM Literature Archive (NLM LitArch), the digital repository of full-text literature, Bookshelf serves not only to preserve and maintain free access to electronic biomedical literature, but through its integration with other NCBI resources, such as PubMed, Gene, OMIM, and PubChem, it fosters both intentional and serendipitous discoveries.

Each publication on Bookshelf is divided into searchable units of content based on the organization of parts, chapters, sections, subsections, etc, within the individual publication. The entry-point for a user is a page within the book usually found by a search.

Once browsing this book page, it is possible to navigate around a whole unit of content. The size of the unit of content and its interconnection with other parts of the book will depend on both the organization of the book and the wishes of the publisher.

Searching Bookshelf

You may search across all content, or one book at a time in Bookshelf. To search across the entire Bookshelf resource, type a word or phrase into the Search box at the top of the Bookshelf homepage and click Search. You may search one book at a time by selecting a book listed on the Browse Titles page. Simply click on the book’s cover or hyperlink to view the Table of Contents page. There is a Search this book box located under the book’s metadata and cover thumbnail. Enter one or more terms to query the book. Your search results will be displayed on a separate page and organized by Relevance. To query the entire Bookshelf again, use the Search box set to ‘Books’ at the top of the screen (See Searching Bookshelf for more information).

Browsing versus Searching

Browsing allows you to "click your way" through a Bookshelf publication. Searching, on the other hand, requires the user to enter a search term to retrieve books that contain the specific term. Every publication in Bookshelf is fully searchable, but not all publications can be browsed. Browsable publications include a hyperlinked Table of Contents, allowing you to view the publication chapter by chapter. All books created at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) are browsable. Books that cannot be browsed are accessible by using the Search this book box on the book’s Table of Contents page. Whether books are browsable depends on agreements made with the publishers.

Integration with Other NCBI Databases

Through links to other resources at NCBI, such as PubMed, PMC, PubChem Substance, Gene, and OMIM, Bookshelf enables readers to discover relevant biomedical information (see Figure 1). A number of full-text books, reports and databases hosted in Bookshelf can be accessed through links in their corresponding entry in PubMed, a database of citations and abstracts for journal articles, books and documents (see the NLM Technical Bulletin for more information). PubMed and Bookshelf are also interlinked by 1) links in PubMed to publications in Bookshelf that have cited a PubMed citation in their bibliography, and 2) links to PubMed citations from articles cited in publications on Bookshelf.

Figure 1. . Among the discovery panels located along the right margin of a book page are those displaying links to PubMed and other NCBI resources.

Figure 1.

Among the discovery panels located along the right margin of a book page are those displaying links to PubMed and other NCBI resources. A) “Related Information” provides links to other databases at NCBI, such as PMC, PubMed Substance, (more...)

Some of the information found in Bookshelf is provided by non-government authors and publishers, and as such is copyright protected. Since NCBI does not control the copyright for these books, you must contact the author or publisher to obtain permission before reproducing any material found in such publications. Such books are identified on Bookshelf web pages by the presence of the copyright symbol (©) at the bottom of the webpage. For more information, see the Bookshelf Copyright Notice.

Restrictions on Systematic Downloading of Books or Chapters

Crawlers and other automated processes may NOT be used to systematically retrieve content from the Bookshelf web site, and bulk downloading of books is prohibited. Bookshelf does have two auxiliary services, the NLM LitArch OAI service and NLM LitArch FTP service, that may be used to download certain content in bulk.

Information for Authors and Publishers

Bookshelf strives to represent the range of biomedical, health, and life sciences books and resources available to scientists, health professionals, educators, students, and consumers. Specialist research, resources for university-level teaching, works on methods and procedures, and clinical reports and guidelines are all included. See Bookshelf’s Information for Authors and Publishers page about how to propose a publication, the review process, and the submission of data.