Starbound's lore is presented to the player through books, logs, papers and other materials found in the game world, conversations with NPCs who will change what they say based on your race, as well as racial scan descriptions for objects and even environmental storytelling.
Once a codex has been collected and learned it's permanently available in that character's Codex Library, which can be opened by clicking the side menu icon or using the hotkey [L].
"It may seem like a small/insignificant feature to some, but it's something we hope will greatly contribute to the atmosphere of the game as well as the sense of discovery in constantly reading new tidbits of information about each race. So...lore fans, rejoice!" - "The Starbound Chronicle: July 2013"
Starter Codex Entries
Every player learns these entries when they begin the game.
Hiraki Corale, Hylotl Adventurer