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Image Collections

From Civil War photographs to current events infographics, billions of images are available through electronic media. Whether seeking the latest photos of the royal baby or illustrating a class project, children and young adults need access to quality images and image collections.

kellerWhen looking for images, where do you start? Do you start with a particular collection or a search engine?

Google Images

When looking for images, the first place most youth visit is Google Images. However, they may not realize the many different ways to search for images such as by size, color, and collection. Send some time exploring the options within Google Images. You'll be amazed at what you can find.

Let's explore some tips for using Google for locating images.

Tip 1. Go to Google Inside Search by Image. Watch a short video. It contains lots of time for searching. Let's explore some tips and tricks for using Google Image Search.

Keep in mind that you can use all the regular search trick in Google Images. dorothea lange

Tip 1. You can drag an image file into the Google Images search. For instance, drag the currency below to your desktop. Then, drag the file into Google Images. What's the currency? Or, drag the image below into Google Images. Is it really Helen Keller?


Try a Google Images search. Drag one of the following images into the search tool. Find out about it. Find a famous photo, work of art, or building.


Use Google Images for identification. I know these are clouds, but what kind?


Tip 2. Sometime Google Images does a better job than a digital collection in searching for images. For instance, if you want images of the Civil War from the Library of Congress, so a Google site search for Civil War. You'll be shown a collection of great images.

Tip 3. Go to Google Life Photos for a great collection of historical images.

Trip 4. Go to Google Panoramio. This tool connects Google Maps with great photographs. Search for a place and see photos. Check out the contest winners. Learn about the science of a particular place. Use the photo to jumpstart discussion.

Tip 5. Go to Google Business Photos. Go to the Toy Joy example. Walk around the store. Create a math problem based on something you see. Share the problem. Design a game with multiple levels where you can go from a customer to store clerk to store manager.

Tip 6. Go to Google Photography Prize. Join this contest. Or, explore the entries and winners.

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Go to the Meaningful Monuments Game by Annette Lamb. This is a great way to practice using Google Images.

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons is one of the best and easiest ways to find a quality images that youth could use in a project. The advantage of Wikimedia Commons is that all the images are either in the public domain or available for sharing under a copyleft license. In addition, it's easy to find high-quality images of common objects.


For some great examples, go to the Featured Pictures page.

Wikipedia maintains a list of public domain image websites.

Open Clip Art

If you're looking for cute clipart, try OpenClipArt. Everything is in the public domain. The website allows users to download different sizes and file types.


School Oriented

Look for collections that will provide groups of resources. For instance,KitZu provides groups of media related to curriculum topics.

Pics4Learning is designed specifically for teachers and students who are locating free visuals to use in projects.

Citing Sources

Youth often overlook the importance of citing sources.

spirit of 76If a teen is simply looking for an image of a celebrity serve as wallpaper on their phone, then he or she doesn't need to cite their source. Personal use such as printing an image for use in a collage for their bedroom bulletin board doesn't require citations.

However, students are often looking for images for use in school projects that they plan to submit to a teacher or share online. In this case, it's important that they cite their source.

When using Google Images, it's important that youth understand that they're using a search tool that is taking them to another website. Once they visit the site containing an image, they need to determine the copyright status of that image. In many cases, they'll find that the site doesn't contain any useful information about the origin of the image. To trace the origin, do an image search by dragging the image a Google Image search. See if you can find the logical origin such as a digital collection. Famous images are easy to trace because they generally go back to a major image collection.

The advantage of using Wikimedia Commons or other digital collections is that the copyright information is provided along with the image. This makes citations easy! For instance, the image on the right is a famous painting known as Yankee Doodle or The Spirit of 76. Go to the Wikimedia Commons pages for the copyright information.

Organizing Images

Pinterest is an online social pinboard. It allows users to easily organize links and visuals for easy access. Let's say you want to do an activity asking students to analyze the math they find in an infographic. Go to the Reading Rockets Infographic Pinterest. You don't need to log-in to view the pages.

These pages are easy to create. You join Pinterest. Find a image and copy the URL of the picture. It should end in JPG, PNG, or GIF. Click the ADD button. Paste the URL and create or choose a category. Click Pin It and it appears on your page. The infographic is in Portuguese. See if students can still interpret the information.

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Create a Pinterest board to organize images. For instance, you might select images that revolve around a particular book or topic. Think about how this might be useful for youth.

Weaving Images into Library Programs

depressionYoung people love images. Think about ways you can incorporate fun activities and games into your library program.

Book-Movie Connections. Hunger Games, Ender's Game, and Divergent are just a few of the books that have been made into movies. Create a program that encourages youth to cast the next great book to movie combination. Ask them to create a Pinterest board that contains images of the celebrities they'd like to see cast in their favorite book. Try building one yourself!

Comic Connections. Use images to bring a time period alive. Focus on particular collections and time periods such as the Great Depression, then use Comic software to tell a historical fiction story. See an example on the right.

Cool Connections. Who can find the most interesting connection between an image and another image.
Drag in a Abraham Lincoln, fossil, pine needles, other identification key ideas into the box... what do you find?

Culture Collage. Use Google Images to identify foods, products, clothing, places, and other images related to a particular culture. Create a collage in Glogster. Can you peers figure out the culture without any words?

Crisis at the Zoo. The zookeeper is sick and can't help with the latest shipment of animals. When the crates arrive, you must be sure the animals go to the correct habitats. However, there's a problem. The boxes contain photos of the animals, but no names. Figure out where each animal belongs. Then, create a card sharing vital information about the animal so the workers will know their name and what they eat.


Famous or Infamous. We're creating wanted poster for the best and worst. However we're not sure which is which. Identify each person and find out if they go on the best or worst list.

Global Book Covers. Compare the book covers you find for a book. Why do they change from one country to another? Why do they change from hardback to paperback. Compare three different covers.

ID It. Can you identify the object? Combine a document camera with an exploration of google... students work as a team to identify a specimen and provide an example.

Literature Medal. Use Google Images to find images that reflect the characters, setting, and events from the a book. Do not use images from a movie that is already being made such as Hunger Games.

Museum Mixup. The museum is setting up a series of rooms in chronological order. Unfortunately, the curator dropped the folder containing the photos and they're all mixed up. Can you put the photos in the correct order on our museum timeline?


Pictionary. Can you define a word after doing a Google Images search? What word best represents the idea? Search for abstract concepts like liberty or poverty.

MollyHistorical Comparisons. Create a list of web addresses containing images that will stimulation discussion. Locate pairs of graphics that can be used to make comparisons. Use historical drawings and painting to stimulate questions about the American Revolution or other time periods.

Visualize Stories. Visual stories such as Sugaring Time by Kathryn Lasky are also an effective way to jumpstart an inquiry. Consider the Scientists in the Field series.

Scientists in the Field

Read Troutner, Joanne (2013). A digital picture is worth a thousand digital words. Teacher Librarian, 40(3), 50-52. Available through IUPUI.

Lamb, Annette & Johnson, Larry (2013). Graphic inquiry: dynamic differentiation and digital age learning, Teacher Librarian, 39(4), 61-67. Available through IUPUI.

Photography Programs

Involved young people in the creation of their own images. Design imaging programs that provide digital cameras and editing software to youth.

Read Peterson, Joella (Winter 2011). Finding Focus: Using Digital Cameras in Library Programming. Children & Libraries, 9(3), 48-51.

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Explore the Photo Safari workshop. Think about programming for youth centered on photography.

Art Collections

flowersSometimes youth are seeking works of art. Keep in mind that art can be woven across content areas. It might be used to depict a historical concept or visualize the future. Do a search for digital art collections for lots of examples.

Youth are often interested in familiar works of art. Many famous works of art are available at Wikimedia Commons. This may be quicker than searching art collections. For instance, check out Vincent van Gogh.

In many cases, a child finds a work of art and wants to know about the image. If the image is in digital form, drag the image file into Google Images and conduct a search.

Explore some of the following popular digital art collections:

Cartoon Collections

great puzzleYoung people love cartoons. There are many sources for both current and historical cartoons and comics online.

Go to Great Presidential Puzzle. Notice that this cartoon is housed at Wikimedia Commons. However if you scroll down to the summary, you'll see tht the original is from the Library of Congress.

When working with youth, talk about copyright, fair use, and issues in the use of political cartoons. Discuss copying versus linking to a website.

Many teachers like using cartoons with youth. Encourage educators to start at Cartoons for the Classroom. They provide lots of teaching ideas. For more lessons, go to Opper Project.

Let's explore some examples for current and historical cartoons as well as web comics.

Charts, Graphs & Infographic Collections

Students are always looks for visuals that convey statistical information for their class projects.

Charts and Graphs

Charts and graphs are useful in student projects. They can be great sources of visual information.

Go to Handsome Atlas. It's a wonderful source of statistical information from the 19th century.

Other data sources include:


Infographics has become a popular way to visually represent many forms of information. An infographic is a graphic representation of information. It provides the "big picture" that might otherwise be difficult to understand by using visuals to quickly convey the key ideas.

Infographics are particular useful when studying world languages, because online translators can't translate graphics. As such, students must do the translations themselves. When searching for infographics in other languages use the correct term.

Read the article Infographic: The Slave-Slip Chart that Kindled the Abolitionist Movement. It shows the primary source document and new versions of it. Also read Description of the Slave Ship Brookes, 1788.

Explore the Government: Who Takes Care of What infographic. What can students learn from infographics?

Explore some others:

Use Google Images to search for additional examples. Search for slavery infographic.

Explore lots of examples:

Clipart Collection

beeThere are many subscription services for clipart, however young people really need free sources.

The image of the bee on the right is by Anarres at Open Clipart Library.

A favorite source of clipart for students projects is DK Clip Art. Most youth are familiar with these images from DK's popular books. The website provides specific information about downloads and licenses for use.

Diagram Collections

Diagrams can be useful to youth in visualizing concepts. Sometimes students just need to see examples to help them build their own project.

Use Google Images to locate sources of diagrams on individual topics. Do searches for a particular type of diagram:

Wikimedia Commons is a great place to locate diagrams.

NeoK12 is a great source for interactive diagrams on a wide range of topics.

Use interactive diagrams to explore concepts.

Map Collections

Maps are a powerful way to meet the visual needs of young people. They can help students identify locations, routes, and patterns. This type of visual thinking can be very helpful across the curriculum:

Photo Collections

Explore sources for images young people can easily search and use.

Check Flickr the Commons for large-scale imaging projects from museums and libraries.

Check Wikimedia Commons. Check out the Wikimedia National Archives collections page.

Focus on government image websites to stimulate questioning. You can find many photo collections at FirstGov. You can also check out image galleries by state.

Panaramo or 360

It's useful to begin with exploration, before creating your own.

Explore the inside of a Submarine. Examine the Sistine Chapel. Check out the New 7 Wonders and View Your World. Think about a tour you could build.

General Photos

US and State Government and Library Resources

The advantage of government images is that they are either in the public domain or are available for use with permission or citation. They are also generally related to the subject of the agency.

Global Government Resources


Semiotics is the science of signs and symbols. Symbols are visuals used to represent ideas, concepts, or other abstractions.

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