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Finding Images: a guide to using visual resources: Open Web

Quick overview of searching for images at Emory's Robert W Woodruff Library and beyond

Image Search Engines

Google Images is a quick and easy way to find lots of images from web pages across the globe. But it only searches web content that it can find -- many images are actually hidden in databases or galleries. The quality of images - size, resolution, description, usage rights - also varies considerably on the open web. Use Google, but don't rely on it for all image searches. Explore this page and image databases for more high-quality options.

  • Google Image Search  Tip: Use advanced search or facets to limit by image size, images within a domain/site (e.g. site:, and usage rights.
  • Google  Use Google's web search to find hidden image collections. Search example:  KEYWORD ("image archive" OR "image gallery" OR "image collection" OR "image database")
  • PicSearch
  • Bing
  • Exalead


Images on the Open Web

For Brown's list of Art and Architecture Images on the Open Web click here

Digital Collections

American Memory provides free and open access to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet

music that document the American experience.

  • Artsy is an online platform for contemporary art available online.  Powered by The Art Genome Project—a way of providing pathways for discovery, Artsy partners with galleries, museums and foundations.

Brooklyn Museum's digital gallery contains over 90,000 digitized images from its collections. Users can browse, save, research, comment and tag. Wide-range of cultures, regions, and temporal periods represented.

The University of California's free public gateway to a world of primary sources. More than 200,000 digitized items — including photographs, documents, newspaper pages, political cartoons, works of art, diaries, transcribed oral histories, advertising, and other unique cultural artifacts — reveal the diverse history and culture of California and its role in national and world history.


Thse 50,000 images, scanned from public domain items in Pitt's Special Collections,  include biblical illustrations, portraits of religious leaders, emblem books, engravings of church buildings, printer’s devices, and a variety of other topics, mainly theological.

·       Europeana aggregates digitised books, paintings, photographs, recordings and films from over 2,200 contributing cultural heritage organisations across Europe - including major national bodies such as the British Library, the Louvre and the Rijksmuseum.

Google's "collaboration with some of the world’s most acclaimed art museums to enable people to discover and view more than a thousand artworks online in extraordinary detail."

Contains catalog records and digital images representing a rich cross-section of still pictures held by the Prints & Photographs Division and, in some cases, other units of the Library of Congress.

Search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive (1750s to today).

This repository of digital images documenting the National Gallery of Art collections allows users to search, browse, share, and download images believed to be in the public domain. More than 20,000 open access digital images up to 3000 pixels each are available free of charge for download and use.

Provides free and open access to over 800,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's vast collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more.

Over 470 000 photographs of works of art collected in the national and regional museums of France--museums such as the Louvre, Orsay, the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Picasso Museum.

Search archival, print and digital content.

Contains over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research in the UK.

Yale University Library Digital Images Database


Usage Rights Filters

You can search Creative Commons for images that you can use on web pages: I usually unclick use for commercial purposes, if the use if academic in nature.

Google now has a Usage Rights filter (available at the Google Images page, or just use Google's default search page and then filter the results by image.

  1. Click on the Search tools menu and then select the dropdown menu for Usage Rights. That menu offers five choices: Not filtered by license, Labeled for reuse, Labeled for commercial reuse, Labeled for reuse with modification, and Labeled for commercial reuse with modification. Select the option you wish to use, and the page refreshes to include only those images.

The images are typically ones licensed by Creative Commons or GNU Free Documentation, or are items in the public domain. The "labeled for reuse" option allows you to use the image for non-commercial purposes as specified in the license. The "labeled for commercial reuse" lets you use the image commercially. The "reuse with modification" option grants you the ability to alter the image.

A Google help page describes the various licensing and usage options.

World Images

WorldImages database provides access to the California State University IMAGE Project. It has just been selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion in its historic collection of Internet materials. It contains approximately 100,000 images, is global in coverage and includes all areas of visual imagery. The images can be located using many search techniques on the left hand toolbar, from QuickSearch to Advanced and ADA Searches. For convenience, the images are organized into over 900 portfolios that appear alphabetically in the Portfolio List. You can use them or explore the database using Browse Collections. Here the portfolios are hierarchically organized beginning with continents and subject grouping. Embedded Metadata: YOU CAN NOW DOWNLOAD RELEVANT INFORMATION WITH THE IMAGES here.

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