I love libraries.
But for some reason, people NEVER know enough about them. Case in point-one of the most amazing but, I think, underutilized resources available for people studying taxonomy and biodiversity: The Biodiversity Heritage Library! (and note the button for donations!)
What are they? You can certainly go and read all about them at their Wiki here. But simply put, they are a massive digital, online archive of OPEN ACCESS (that's the academic word for "free") taxonomic, naturalist and other literature which pre-dates copyright, or is by definition freely available to everyone (such as federal government materials) and has been made available via the Internet to ANYONE who wants it.
This helps a LOT of people who are looking for VERY old and RARE taxonomic monographs which might ONLY be available from either a handful of Natural History Museum libraries OR a very expensive used book dealer.
For example, let's take the work of starfish taxonomist, Walter K. Fisher former director of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station "back in the day" during Ed Ricketts time (circa 1930s)....
Prior to the BHL, these books were vintage. 1906. 1911. 1919. It took me many, an hour scrubbing tanks and hauling boxes to get the 200 bucks it cost me to buy my first copy of Fisher's "Asteroidea of the North Pacific". Now, thanks to the BHL, you can get it as a freely available download!
But what's the catch? Well, the thing is they kind of did too good a job! There is SO much material available that actually finding the stuff that is useful for certain people requires a bit of navigation and experience. Some monographs are part of other series that weren't distinguished. So herein, I make it easy for the interested starfish taxonomy student.... Here's a bunch of his big monograph/books (click to go):
The North Pacific Asteroidea Monographs
Fisher 1911-Asteroidea of the North Pacific. Pt. 1. Phanerozonia and Spinulosa
Fisher 1928-Asteroidea of the North Pacific. Pt. 2. Forcipulata
Fisher 1930-Asteroidea of the North Pacific. Pt. 3. Forcipulata (concluded)
The Starfishes of the Hawaiian Islands. 1906. (I cheated on this one-its from NOAA)
Starfishes of the Philippines. 1919.
The HMS Discovery Antarctic monograph. 1940.
Here are a BUNCH more Starfish Taxonomy Monographs as pdf for everyone via the BHL...
1. Here are the starfish collected by the HMS Challenger!
The Text pt. 1
and the PLATES
5. The classic Starfishes of Japan by Seitaro Goto, 1914. Go here.
6. Deep-Sea Starfishes from the Tropical East Pacific (Mexico, Baja California, etc.) . Ludwig 1905. Go here.