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Finding Information

Gain an understanding of different information formats, including the ways they can be used in research.

Finding Images

This page was created to help you:

  • Understand that images are intellectual property
  • Learn appropriate use of images
  • Find images using Artstor and Google Advanced Image Search

We will look at finding images through the licensed database Artstor and the freely available search tool Google Images. The most direct and efficient way to search for images is to use a database.

Using the Artstor Database

Artstor is the main image database at Brown and at many other institutions. It is a collection of over 2.5 million images covering art, architecture, and related materials from all over the world and spanning all time periods.

Artstor images are:

  • Usually very high quality
  • Accompanied by reliable information written by museum curators, scholars, and artists 
  • Available for educational use only (e.g., classroom presentations, paper illustrations, and course websites)

Artstor also has a "Public Collections" section that is freely available to anyone in the world. These are mostly images that have been uploaded by libraries and schools from their own collections.

It is important to be aware that images have rights attached to them, and you should always look for works that can be properly attributed and cited. By using Artstor, you will know that the licensing for these images has already been taken care of.

You can access Artstor by typing its name in the search box on the Library website.

Enter Artstor in the search box:

Josiah main search box

On the search results page, choose the Artstor link in the yellow "Best Bets" box:

Josiah results page

If prompted, authenticate with your Brown credentials. When the database opens, click on the "Artstor Digital Library" link:

Artstor main screen

Let's try a search for images from Mesa Verde. Enter Mesa Verde in the search box.

*Note: You do not have to login to look at the images. But if you wish to download images, you will be prompted to login first. If this is your first time using Artstor, click on "Register" and create an account using your Brown email address and a strong password.

Your search results will appear as a set of thumbnail images. 

Note: Here, we are looking at the freely available "Public Collections" only. There are many more available in the licensed Artstor collections. Your search will automatically look in both collections. You can limit your search by using the menu at left.

Artstor search results

Click on one of the images in order to see the large version and read the accompanying information about it. From here, you can download the full image or a detail, learn how to cite the image, or add the image to a group if you wish to save a set within your Artstor account:

Artstor single image page

Using Google Image Advanced Search

It can be overwhelming to search for a specific image in Google Images. It is also difficult to know whether the people who have posted the images actually have the right to do so. Using the "Advanced Search" feature can help tremendously in finding high quality, free-to-use images.

The "Advanced Search" interface can be found at this URL:

Let’s search for Mesa Verde again. On the top half of the page, you have such options as "this exact word or phrase" and "image size" searches, among others:

Google Images Advanced Search Form, Top Section

On the bottom half of the page, you have options to narrow your results. For this example, let us assume that this image is going to be used in a printed flyer for a fundraiser. Print requires high resolution images, so select "Large." Another way to narrow your results is to select a file type. You can narrow the results to those images that that may be freely used.

 Google Images Advanced Search bottom

After clicking on the "Advanced Search" button, you will see a page of results:

 Google Images Advanced Search Results

Clicking on one of these images gives you the page with options for downloading various sizes (sometimes, as in the case of Flickr images, you are brought directly to the image itself. In that case, you will see rights information and downloading options below the image):

Google Image on Wikipedia, top half

At the bottom of this same page, the name of the photographer and the ways you may use this image are included. This is called a Creative Commons (CC) license. CC is a means of allowing photographers to share their work freely with others while also retaining their own rights. There are different CC licences, so do read the text carefully to be sure you are in compliance with it (though in most cases, you will be fine if you are using the image only for a class):

Google Image in Wikimedia page, bottom with license

Also See

Don’t forget that images must be cited, just like textual works. Resources to help you do this can be found on the following guides:

Further Reading

Learning Objectives

This page was designed to help you:

  • Understand that images are intellectual property
  • Learn appropriate use of images
  • Find images using Artstor and Google Advanced Image Search