Information Services

Image Databases

Find still images and pictures from the resources below. You may be able to limit your results to be of material published under Creative Commons or other copyright cleared conditions. However, re-use policies should be read before making use of an image.


Amica Library

Access information: Available on and off campus. NB full resolution access to the images is only available on campus.
Description: A collection of over 108,000 high quality images from North American art museums, presented using the Luna Insight browser.



Access information: Access on and off-campus.
Description: ARTstor is a digital library of images covering the arts, architecture, humanities, and social sciences. The collections comprise contributions from outstanding museums, photographers, libraries, scholars, photo archives, and artists and artists' estates. If you wish to download images for your own scholarly use you will need to Register with ARTstor, once you have logged in with your University Login. By registering your email address and creating a password you will create a profile which will allow you to download images and save images to folders as part of "My ARTstor". Note: To register for an ARTstor account, you must be on-site at your institution, or logged in through your institution's proxy server.
Coverage: One million plus digital images.


Access information: Access on and off campus.
Description: Over 3 million images from museums, galleries, private collections and contemporary artists all copyright cleared for educational use. Bridgeman Education gives you access to the visual culture of every civilization and every period from Prehistory to the present day across continents and civilisations.


British Cartoon Archive

Access information. Free access on and off campus. You will be prompted to select University of Edinburgh and then your University Login when downloading images.
Description. The British Cartoon Archive, from the University of Kent at Canterbury, exists to encourage and facilitate the study of cartoons and caricatures published in the United Kingdom. This is achieved by collecting, preserving, cataloguing, exhibiting, and distributing the work of cartoonists and caricaturists, and by encouraging and publishing studies of their art. The BCA database contains details of the main cartoon collections held in the archive which can be searched online. Cartoons can be found under any of the cataloguing terms used (eg cartoonist, publication, date, name or subject). The database gives access to cartoon images and catalogue information. For publication purposes, digital images with supporting copyright details can be ordered through the feedback section of the website.
Coverage. The database is a unique archive of over 140,000 pieces of cartoon artwork published in the UK.


British Library Sounds

Access information: Access on and off campus. Choose University of Edinburgh as your home organisation and if prompted login with your University Login. British Library Sounds is currently unavailable due to a cyber-attack on the British Library at the end of October 2023. Colleagues at the British Library are working to restore services but there is no timescale for the resolution of this outage. Apologies for any inconvenience caused. 08/12/2023.
Description: Archival Sound Recordings offers selections of music, spoken word and environmental sounds from the British Library Sound Archive available online to UK Higher and Further Education. There are currently over 4000 hours of recordings, with more being added over the coming year. Highlights include in-depth oral history interviews, pre-1957 classical music recordings, ethnomusicological field recordings, accents and dialects, wildlife sounds, radio programmes, public debates, and early recordings originally captured on wax cylinders. Archival Sound Recordings offers a broad range of cross-disciplinary, primary source material for researchers. For teachers it provides engaging, thought-provoking material for lessons and a tool for teaching key skills to students of all levels.


CC Search: Creative Commons images search

Access information: Freely available.

Openly licensed and public domain images. CC does not verify whether the images are properly CC licensed, or whether the attribution and other licensing information we have aggregated is accurate or complete.

Copyright: Verification of the licensing status and attribution information of an image is required before it is re-used.




Access information: Freely available
Description: Funded by the European Commission, the Europeana portal provides access to millions of digitised books, paintings, films, museum objects and archival records from all over Europe. Use Europeana to explore major European collections including collections from Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the British Library and the Louvre as well as regional archives and local museums from every member of the EU.


Access information: Freely available
Description: Searchable collection of digitised photographs taken in both Arctic and Antarctic expeditions and held in the collection of The Scott Polar Research Institute in the University of Cambridge. All image captions are taken from original sources, where known. Collection may also be browsed by date, expedition or photographer. Resource section puts selected images in context. Images available for purchase.
Coverage: 1845-1982.


Access information: On campus access. Off campus access available via VPN. For access information please follow link above.
Description: A collaboration between University of Edinburgh Library and the History of Art unit of the School of Arts, Culture and Environment, University of Edinburgh. Contains c. 3,000 images augmented by the 115,000 images available simultaneously from the AMICA Library.


Access information: Free access on and off-campus from Flickr
Description: Photos and drawings sourced from more than 600 million library book pages scanned in by the Internet Archive organisation.
Coverage: Copyright free on the basis image sources are from 1500s to 1922.


Access information: Freely available
Description: More than fifty thousand images of the National Portrait Gallery's Collections available for academic use. Low resolution images are available to copy and distribute via a Creative Commons licence and higher resolution ones via a more restrictive Academic Licence. Look at specific pictures' "Use this image" information.


Access information: Free access
Description: Openly available licensed datasets from several cultural institutions, including the British Library. All collections provide digital scans or photos that can be freely used without any restrictions.


Access information: Access on or off campus
Description: More than 700,000 images from Optical Society of America's core journals
Copyright: Images can be exported and may be used for noncommercial purposes only. Read the Image Detail information or contact OSA.



Access information: Freely available.

Still images which can be freely used for commercial and non-commercial purposes. 

It is good practice to credit the creator.

Sponsored (not free) images are shown.

Copyright: License information




Access information: Freely available.

Still images which can be freely used for commercial and non-commercial purposes. 

It is good practice to credit the creator.

Sponsored (not free) images are shown, marked with the Shutterstock logo.

Copyright information: License information




Access information: Freely available.

Still and moving images which can be freely used for commercial and non-commercial purposes. 

It is good practice to credit the creator.

Sponsored (not free) images are shown to finance Pixabay and to provide a choice of professional photos. Those images are marked with the Shutterstock logo.

Copyright: License information



Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

Access information: Freely available.
Description: Stills, videos and illustrations from the USA's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

For use as reference, teaching, presentation, and public health messages. Images are either "Public Domain" (free use) or "Copyright Protected" (restricted, obtain permission before use). Look directly beneath an image for this information.


Access information: Access on and off-campus. Choose Shibboleth Log In or UK Federation.
Description: 1.5 million text records of historic monuments and of artefacts held in museums, galleries and archives, plus 500,000 related multimedia resources; video or sound clips, animations, graphics, plans, virtual reality objects and in particular, colour photographic images.
  Access to the text records and thumbnail images is freely available. Access to full resources is available under licence only, the terms of which restrict use of the material for no profit, no proliferation use in education.


Access information: Freely available
Description: Approximately 5,000 photographs, primarily of China from 1917-1932 but including photographs of Korea, Japan, Hawaii, San Francisco and Russia.
  Maintained by Duke University Libraries, text and images in the collection are available for use in research, teaching, and private study but may not be used for any commercial purpose without prior permission.
Coverage: 5,000 photographs, 1917-1932.


TV Rain Video Archive

Access information:

Access on and off campus. For off campus, please use the VPN - Access to the University network via the VPN.

Our subscription agent advises that new programming has been suspended as of March 3, 2022, but access remains available to the archived programming.07/03/2022


TV Rain is Russia’s only independent television channel. The TV Rain Video Archive holds thousands of TV programmes, reports and interviews about today’s Russia. 


Access information: Available on and off campus. Some collections are only available to staff and students.
Description: These collections display highlights of the resources of the University of Edinburgh Library, principally from within Special Collections. At present there are almost 12,000 images available.
  Collections include: Hill and Adamson, the Salvsen Collection, Walter Scott Collection, Western Medieval Manuscripts, the Laing Collection, Oriental Manuscripts and Images from the School of Scottish Studies.



Access information: Freely available.

Images which can be freely used for commercial and non-commercial purposes. 

It is good practice to seek permission and credit the creator.

Copyright: License information



Access information: Freely available
Description: VADS (the Visual Arts Data Service) has provided services to the academic community for over 20 years and has built up a considerable portfolio of visual art collections comprising over 140,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research. VADS is a service of the Library & Student Services department of the University for the Creative Arts.