Free and Fabulous – Royalty-Free Media and You

In libraries, every cent counts. Regardless of your zip code, libraries are always interested in pinching a penny, and one easy way is to utilize copyright-free material. From images and videos to music and documents, copyright-free resources can be a game-changer and really up the pizzazz of advertisements and social media posts.

Artist’s rendition of me worrying about copyright law
before I found great online resources.
  • Cost-Effective Creativity

Copyright-free material, available from various online sources, provides high-quality content without a hefty price tag. Many different websites (some listed below) offer thousands of images for free, allowing libraries to create professional-looking materials without breaking the bank.

  • Legal Peace of Mind

The risk of unintentionally using copyrighted material and facing legal repercussions is a daunting prospect for any organization. By relying on copyright-free resources, libraries can avoid legal pitfalls. Free licenses, such as Creative Commons, clearly outline what can and cannot be done with the material, offering peace of mind and the freedom to create without worry.

  • Enhancing Visual Appeal

In today’s digital age, visual content is king. Engaging images and videos can significantly boost a library’s outreach efforts and satisfy the mysterious algorithms behind social media. Whether it’s for social media campaigns, annual reports, or fundraising events, stunning visuals help tell a compelling story, capturing the attention of your audience.

  • Flexibility and Adaptability

Libraries often need to produce a variety of content quickly and efficiently (“Oh yeah, that event is next week. Can you make a flyer for it?”). Copyright-free materials offer a flexible solution. Need a background image for a social media post? Infographics for a report? Copyright-free sites provide an array of options that can be tailored to fit the specific needs and branding of any program.

  • Getting Started with Copyright-Free Materials

Ready to dive into the world of copyright-free resources? Here are some websites to get you started:

  • Unsplash: High-resolution photos for free, suitable for any project.
  • Pexels: A wide range of free stock photos and videos.
  • Pixabay: Over 1.7 million free images, videos, and music tracks.
  • Creative Commons: A platform to find works with free licenses.
  • Burst by Shopify: Free stock photos tailored for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Some do require you to create a free account and offer premium versions, but you can often find what you are looking for, especially if you hop from site to site.

We did it! We started using royalty-free images to make our content even better!

What websites and resources do you use? Any tips/tricks you’d like to share? Drop me a line at:

Cameron R.S. Smith | Cooper-Siegel Community Library

Part of this text generated by ChatGPT, May 29, 2024, OpenAI,

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Broaden Your News Search

Allegheny County library users are fortunate to have access to some great newspaper databases covering local, regional, and national papers. Did you know that there are a few other online collections out there that supplement these robust collections?

Chronicling America

The Chronicling America collection includes America’s historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963. The site also features the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Search by state, date, or even by language – with newspapers printed in 19 different languages!

This resource also includes the Newspaper Navigator that lets users search for visual data across newspapers from 1789-1963. 

Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.

Google News Archive

Google News Archive is an extension of Google News providing free access to scanned archives of newspapers and links to other newspaper archives on the web (both free and paid). Includes The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Pittsburgh Press, other local papers, and national and international titles.

While the search feature leaves something to be desired, the browsability of this site is fairly useful.

Hopefully these additional sources will help you help library users find the information they seek.

Happy searching!

– Richelle, Sewickley Public Library

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Improve Your Graphic Design Skills With Free Resources!

Summer reading is just around the corner, and that means new faces in the library, big exciting programs every month, and, as always, too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. 

As hard as it can be to find the time to learn a new skill or software, it’s worth it when your new skills let you get important tasks done more efficiently. With Udemy’s Design Tools courses, you can learn how to take advantage of free online resources like Canva, Fusion360, and DaVinci Resolve to make your life a little bit easier.  

Improve your marketing skills 

Most of you are probably already familiar with Canva. On its own, Canva’s already a huge help, especially if you don’t consider yourself to be the most artistically inclined – with pre-made templates and a drag-and-drop layout, you never have to start from scratch and build something totally brand new.

With UDemy’s free Canva courses, you can learn tips and tricks to easily enhance your flyers, calendars, and social media content. You can also use Canva to create resources for programs! 

Boost your social media posts 

You don’t have to become a TikTok sensation to learn how to create engaging videos for your patrons. UDemy’s courses on DaVinci Resolve help teach basic and advanced video editing skills, so you and your team can easily put together video proof of what goes on at your library. 

Strengthen STEM programming and more 

Even if you don’t have a 3D printer, learning 3D design skills can be helpful. Free programs like Blender, Tinkercad, and Fusion360 let you play around and put those skills into practice, and you can easily plan programs and scale them to suit a variety of age levels. 

And hey, you never know when 3D design will come in handy. Maybe you’ve got big plans to rearrange your Children’s room, but aren’t sure how all your furniture and shelves will fit. You can create a replica of your space in any 3D design program and play around! 

Of course, there’s a lot to learn about these subjects. Using UDemy lets you identify the specific tools and tricks that are useful to you and your role, and then you can share those necessary bits with coworkers and patrons. Pretty soon you’ll have your marketing, social media, and STEM programming down to a science! 

-Jaime, Penn Hills Library

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Tracking Your Reading

After being asked for book recommendations for the umpteenth time, I finally decided to track my reading all of last year and into this year. Not only do I have access to easy recommendations, but also a genuine sense of accomplishment comes over you towards the end of the year. You can also track daily reading, set goals, and many other options.

You can customize how much time you put into a reading app (I like to log when I read and do ratings at the end!), but there is also a tremendous amount of options for apps and websites to use. Here are a couple I can vouch for, The StoryGraph being my tracker-of-choice.

Option 1 (The Obvious One): Goodreads

Love it or hate it, Goodreads is an integral part of any librarian’s life. Patrons know it, and whether we like it or not, often swear by it (I once had a patron insist I look up the books they were checking out on Goodreads—if it was under 4 stars, back to the stacks with it). Goodreads is free, it is comprehensive, and it has an incredibly active reviewing community. You can attach both your Amazon account and your Libby account to Goodreads to make tracking even easier. Goodreads also offers recommendations and reading stats, along with helpful widgets to add to your email signature, and many more features I am sure I am unaware of.

Goodreads is the vanilla with sprinkles of reading trackers. Well-known and reliable.

Option 2 (The One for Data-Lovers): The StoryGraph (SG)

To be honest, I saw someone who has been a book nerd and writer for their whole lives using SG, and I checked it out. I’ve been hooked ever since. SG is attractive to me because of two things: the pointed questions in a review instead of just a blank space for a paragraph, and the data tracking. For comparison, here’s what Goodreads asks when you review a book:

 Compare this with what SG asks:

The guided reviews are great, but the real star is the content warnings. Eventually, I am sure every service will have some version of this, but SG is leading the way. Additionally, SG focuses on stats throughout your yearly reading journey—tracking what moods you favor, the pace of books, how large they are, genres, and more. That said, there is a paid version of SG that I am wholly unfamiliar with, as I get everything I need from the free version. Here’s an example of a year-end data set:

Other options:

These are the only two I am intimately familiar with, but there are many options out there (including good old-fashioned pen-and-paper tracking/journaling!). Here is a site with a list of helpful suggestions:

What programs/websites/apps do you use? Any tips/tricks you’d like to share? Drop me a line at:

Happy tracking!

Cameron R.S. Smith | Cooper-Siegel Community Library

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