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A guide to searching and locating images.


Welcome to the Images Library Guide

This guide will help you find images and provide information on how to use images in your work.


Finding images

Using images


All images in this guide are from the University of Melbourne Cultural collections and Research at Melbourne.  

See Images used in this guide section for details.

University of Melbourne databases

The Library subscribes to a number of databases that provide high quality images. These databases are restricted to University of Melbourne staff and students. 

Free online

Free online resources feature large collections of images with Creative Commons licenses or in the public domain. See the Copyright section of this guide for more on licenses and using images in your work.

These resources are collections of photos:

These resources include photos, illustrations, scalable vector graphics and video clips:

Collections & gateways

These websites provide access to images from the collections of key institutions such as libraries, museums, galleries and scientific organisations. 

These websites provide access to images of cultural material from the collections of art galleries, museums and libraries.

Bilma (clapsticks) Unknown maker (Northern Territory, Australia, c. 1850–1955. University of Melbourne Library, Rare Music Collection.


Theo Strasser (1956–) Ghost bones Melbourne: Anajah Press, 2017.



These websites provide access to images from the collections of museums, scientific organisations and libraries.


Quantum dots generated using density functional theory calculations are enlarged to macroscopic proportions and plunged into a tank of water. Image: Nbrawand CC BY 4.0


dirt road crossroads with pubs, building and church in background

Adapted from St Kilda Junction, date unknown. Architecture, Building and Planning Library: Glass Slides Collection.

In print

Physical resources at the University of Melbourne Library.

There are a couple of different ways to find a book with images via the library catalogue. 

You can do a Keyword search using the term illustrat*  eg. illustrat* war  or illustrat* fashion  This will find books that are illustrated or have a listed illustrator. 

Another useful keyword term is pictorial works eg. Australia pictorial works or planet pictorial works

You can also try a Subject search, using 'in art' eg. women in art or death in art


To confirm that the book you have located on the catalogue has images, simply look at the physical description.  Here are two examples showing that illustrations are included in the book.


Veiwing book at the University of Melbourne library


University collections

The University Library and Cultural Collections hold original artworks, published and unpublished images.


Baillieu library print collection

What's in the collection? 
Prints from the fifteenth to the twentieth century. Includes etchings, engravings, mezzotints, lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings. Visit the Print Collection's webpage for more information.

How to search?
Search via online database.

What's online? 

Over 7000 items have been digitised and are available online via the database.

How to visit?
To view prints in person, please submit a request via the Reading Room website.


Potter Museum of Art

What's in the collection?
Art in all media with a strong Australian focus, but also covers areas such as classics and archaeology collections, international Indigenous cultural material, decorative arts, and a collection of 20th century poster designs. Visit the Potter Museum of Art's website for more information.

How to search?
Search via online database

What's online?
A sample of digitised items.

How to visit?
Closed for redevelopment 2020. Check opening times.


University of Melbourne Archives

What's in the collection?

Includes records from the University of Melbourne, businesses, trade union and other labour movements, history, professional, community, women's, peace and political organisations. Visit  the UMA website for more information.

How to search?
Search via the Archives online database.

What's online? 

Over 20,000 items digitsed.

How to visit?
Archives are not open to the public, but you can view items via the Reading Room.


Visual Cultures Resource Centre

What's in the collection?
Located in the School of Culture and Communication, the VCRC includes a collection of slides, 16mm films, a video and DVD collection, photographs and microfilms, as well as reference books, general texts, key journals and an  Honours thesis collection. Visit the VCRC webpage for more information.

How to search?
The collection is  for research purposes only and borrowing is not permitted.

How to visit?
Visual Cultures Resource Centre, RM E 361 East Tower, John Medley (Building 191), School of Culture and Communication The University of Melbourne.


Microform collection

What's in the collection?
Some prominent collections include: the Witt library and Conway collections, the New York Public library artists files and Leonardo da Vinci nature studies.

How to search?
See staff for assistance or visit the Using Microform library guide.

How to visit?
Head to the basement of the Baillieu Library.


Using images in your research can be a great way to add meaning to your text. However, not all images can be reproduced in the same way. To understand how to work with images it's important to know the basics of copyright.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property which attempts to balance the creator’s ability to control and generate an income from their work with the greater community’s need to use that work for socially beneficial purposes. It is important that we respect the rights of copyright owners and take the appropriate steps to prevent copyright infringement.

Copyright doesn’t protect ideas and information – only how they are expressed in material form. Your ideas are protected by copyright once you write them down as part of your essay or thesis, record them as a sound or video, when you take a photograph, or compose a piece of music. 

Copyright owners have the have exclusive rights to:

  • Reproduce their work, e.g. by photocopying, recording, and scanning.
  • Publish or make the work publicly available, in print or electronic format.
  • Communicate the work, make it available online, or email it to someone.
  • Adapt the work, such as translating the work or rearranging a musical composition.

If anyone else wants to do any of these things, they will generally need the copyright owner's permission. 

Copyright generally lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years – but it does vary for different types of works.

Check the Copyright Office website for more information.

Using images compliantly

When searching for images in the databases we have identified in this guide or on the web, in general, it is important to keep in mind that images will have their own license or terms of use attached to it. It is important to comply with these conditions to ensure that you are not infringing copyright.


Public domain images

When a work is in the public domain, it means the copyright has expired or the creator has dedicated it to the public domain. Websites like Pixabay , Pexels and Unsplash offer free, searchable public domain images. You can also use images uploaded to Wikimedia , and public domain images you find using a filtered Google Image search


Creative Commons and other open-licensed images

Creative Commons is a global not-for-profit initiative which provides free licences for creators to allow legal sharing and remixing of their material. There are guides available on the Copyright Office website on searching for Creative Commons images.

Certain websites also allow individuals to use materials on their website under their terms and conditions.  For example, they may specify that the material on their website can be used for personal, non-commercial or educational purposes.  Check the terms and conditions of the website to check whether you are able to use images on their website compliantly.


Creative Commons licences

Creative Commons licences allow for creators to give permission for others to use the work in advance under certain conditions.




Whenever a work is copied or redistributed under a Creative Commons licence, the original creator (and any other nominated parties) must be credited and the source linked to.


This license applies to every Creative Commons work.




Lets others copy, distribute, display and perform the work for noncommercial purposes only.

No Derivative Works



Lets others distribute, display and perform only verbatim copies of the work. They may not adapt or change the work in any way.


Share Alike



Allows others to remix, adapt and build on the work, but only if they distribute the derivative works under the same the licence terms that govern the original work.

Seeking permission

You can also seek permission from the copyright owner. Keep a written record of the permission and all communication. In the written permission, you should ensure there are full details of the proposed use and any future uses.


Exemption under Fair Dealing

You can use a work under a Fair Dealing exemption which – under certain circumstances – allows the limited use of copyright material without requiring permission from the copyright owner. To rely on these provisions, the use must be genuine and not merely illustrative. So, if, for example, you are relying on the fair dealing provision for criticism and review of an image, you must be making a genuine judgement of the material or of its underlying ideas. 


detail from manuscript

Detail from Favāyid c.1800s. University of Melbourne Rare Books Collection.

Referencing & citing

Referencing images appropriately is one way of displaying good academic integrity as well as ensuring that you are keeping your use of the image copyright compliant.  Each citation styles will cite images differently.

Re:cite is the Library’s guide to citing and referencing in your research and writing, and can help you cite the images you are using appropriately.

Further help

Quick question?

Chat online with a librarian.

Connect with the library
on social media



Finding images FAQ

Think laterally about search terms in big databases like Unsplash.

What concepts or feelings are you trying to get across?

Try about different ways to describe what you are looking for, or associated words / synonyms. You can also look for images that complement the theme of your work, i.e. do I want an image that displays indecision, or solidarity?


Using images FAQ

Try a Google reverse image search.

Remember to investigate websites thoroughly to check the claims they are making.


6 people walking through scrub

Struggling through the rugged terrain of Gallipoli to survey the battlefield. Image: Sarah Midford, Research at Melbourne.

Images used in this guide


Adapted from Norm Beechey's #4 Monaro at a Shell Service station
Shell Historical Archive
University of Melbourne Archives

Original image:


Adapted from Ortus sanitatis (or Hortus sanitatis)
Mainz: Jacob Meydenbach, 1491
George McArthur Bequest, 1903
Rare Books Collection
University of Melbourne Library

Original image:


Adapted from Portrait of Miss McCoy wearing an embroidered vest of unknown symbolism
10 July 1920
University of Melbourne Archives

Original image:



Adapted from tattooed villain seeking a victim
Utagawa, Kunisada 
19th Century
Baillieu Library Print Collection 

Original Image:


Adapted from Cortinarius
Howie, Malcolm
University of Melbourne Herbarium

Original image:


Bilma (clapsticks)
Unknown maker (Northern Territory, Australia)
c. 1850–1955
Rare Music Collection, University of Melbourne Library

Teaching with unique collections


Struggling through the rugged terrain of Gallipoli to survey the battlefield.
Image: Sarah Midford.
Research at Melbourne.


Theo Strasser (1956–) Ghost bones Melbourne: Anajah Press, 2017.
Research at Melbourne.


Quantum dots generated using density functional theory calculations are enlarged to macroscopic proportions and plunged into a tank of water.
Image: Nbrawand CC BY 4.0
Also appears on Research at Melbourne.


Vivienne Shark LeWitt "If the shoe doesn't fit must we change the foot?" 2008
Potter  Museum of Art


Viewing book in the University of Melbourne library
Image: University of Melbourne CC BY 4.0


The Crab and Its Mother
Hollar, Wenceslaus
Baillieu Library Print Collection 


Studio portrait of a young man wearing a trilby hat. Family name White.
Howship, William John
1910 - 1930
Baillieu Library Print Collection 


Visual Cultures Resource Centre,
Image: Jane Brown
Visual Cultures Resource Centre Website


Librarian Norm looking at microform in the Baillieu library basement


Detail from Favāyid, Fāsī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, 1373-1429 

University of Melbourne Rare Books Collection.


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