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Spring Library Photographs

Swampscott Public LibraryIt’s spring! Birds are singing, trees are blossoming and flowers are blooming. It’s a good time to take the camera outside and take some pictures of your library in all its spring loveliness to put on your library’s website or post on Flickr or Facebook.

Sometimes we’re so focused on taking pictures inside the library, showing our services, displays and programs that we don’t think about stepping outside to take pictures of the library building and grounds. But these outdoor shots show the library as members of our community experience the library every day as they walk by, drive by or come for a visit. And if your photographs showcase trees and plants, be sure to identify them in your title or description — consider it preventative reference!

Peabody Institute Library of DanversThese seasonal pictures are also nice additions to Flickr groups. Many libraries add their pictures to library groups, like Libraries and Librarians. That’s great, but pictures there will mostly be seen by other librarians. Consider also posting them in regional and local groups, like Boston and Surrounding ‘Burbs or North Shore, Massachusetts. There are also groups for many individual cities and towns — do a Group Search to see what’s out there. Adding your library photos to these groups helps them be seen by members of your own community — just another way to remind them we’re here! And of course you’ll want to feature these pictures on your library website, Facebook page, Pinterest boards, and anywhere else you can think of it.

Just get out there and take those pictures while the trees are still blooming!

[Sightly updated and reposted from 2009]

Embed a Flickr Slideshow the Easy Way

Flickr automatically creates slideshows for your photostream, sets, groups and search results, and it’s easy to embed one of these slideshows in your WordPress post or page.

In this example, we’re using a Flickr set. First, click on the Slideshow link, shown here:


Next, copy the slideshow link to your clipboard. You can find this by clicking on Share in the upper right and using the Grab the URL option, or simply by copying the URL from the location bar.

Then go to your WordPress post or page, and just paste the URL on a new line. That’s right, it’s that simple. You don’t need any embed code or HTML, just the URL itself, and it works in either the HTML or the WYSIWYG editor.

Preview, save and you’re done!

Here’s what your slideshow will look like:

Two Sites that Turn Your Library Photos into Videos

Here are two sites that make it easy to turn a set of library photographs into a fast and fun video to post on YouTube or share on your library website. How about trying one of these for Massachusetts Library Snapshot Day?

Both of these sites have lots of options for selecting photographs, including pulling in a set from Flickr. I find that it’s easier to create a set of 12 – 18 selected photographs and put them into a set on Flickr to use for the video. Both sites are pretty simple to use, especially if you follow the instructions, and both keep adding new features, so I won’t attempt to document them here, but here’s a couple of examples using some of my library photographs.


Animoto — Animoto makes photo slideshows that somewhat resemble movie trailers. You select the images you want to use, choose a musical clip from the large assortment provided, and then let Animoto create the video. They match the music and the images to create various animated transition effects, and no two videos are alike. In fact, if you don’t like your first attempt, you can let Animoto try again and you’ll get something different. There are other options here — you can mix video clips in, add some words and upgrade to a Pro account for higher quality, longer videos, different styles and to remove the branding.

Animoto Overview — Check this page for more information on how to get started


Pummelvision was designed to do one thing only, but to do it well — it creates a rapid slideshow of a large group of photographs matched to a beat. There are few options here, although you do have two choices for the speed: fast or very fast.

Flickr Accounts for Libraries

Flickr announced some revisions to their Community Guidelines today, the most important of which is to allow businesses, non-profits, and other organizations to have an account on Flickr. This is certainly good news for all the libraries who currently have Flickr accounts, who have really been operating outside of the terms, never a good idea. Flickr’s previous guidelines said that accounts were for individuals only, and specifically prohibiting organizational accounts. Flickr staff has always said that although an individual could set up an account and post their own photographs of their work with an organization, the account stayed with the person, not the organization. The only exception to this has been the Flickr Commons, a special program for museums and libraries sharing historical images.

Most libraries interested in sharing on Flickr have set up organizational accounts so it’s the library, not a specific individual, sharing the photographs, often unaware that this was contrary to the rules. An organizational account allows the library to post photographs taken by different staff members, and to have continuity through staff changes. The announcement notes that “There are many museums, charities, government offices and other organizations already using Flickr to share their stories with interested Flickr members around the world” and that the revisions “just bring the Community Guidelines up to date with how people are already using the site.”

Flickr has created a Best Practices page to help organizations get the most out of Flickr.

Here are my tips for getting the most from your Flickr account :

Setting Up Your Account

  • Take the time to become familiar with Flickr : Take the Tour, read the FAQ
  • Upgrade to Flickr Pro for unlimited uploading, access to your original photographs, and statistics
  • Be sure to add your logo or a photograph as the Buddy icon that identifies your account
  • Edit your Flickr profile page to include basic information about your library, links to the library website, etc.
  • Make sure you understand privacy and copyright settings
  • Upload at least five public photographs as soon as you set up your account. Your account will then be reviewed by Flickr and marked as “Safe.” Until this happens, your images will be visible but not searchable. It usually takes a few days for Flickr to review accounts.

Managing Your Account

  • Plan for continuity — be sure that login and password information is recorded somewhere safe so the library won’t lose access to the account even if the staff member currently running the account leaves the library.
  • Backup your photographs! You should never trust Flickr or any service with the only copy of your library photographs. Be sure you have at least one other copy. Ideally, you should have two copies, perhaps one on a hard drive and one on CD or DVD, as well as the copies on Flickr.


  • Capture everyday life at the library as well as special events
  • Step outside for some exterior shots of the building and grounds, and include weather and seasonal pictures
  • Highlight every library service
  • Include the whole staff, volunteers, trustees, etc. (but respect the camera-shy!)
  • Have a plan and a policy for getting permission for taking pictures of patrons, especially children, and respect the right to privacy
  • Add historic images to Flickr, even if they are also in another archive
  • Add information and links to your image descriptions, and use the map and tags to help make your pictures findable

Sharing Your Photos

  • Use sets and collections to organize your photographs. These can be set up by time period, by department, by program, etc. The same photograph can be in more than one set.
  • Add your images to Flickr groups, especially the local and regional groups
  • Consider starting a Flickr group for your library or your community.
  • Use online toys and tools to enhance and transform your images (add frames, make posters, use special effects, etc.)
  • Use Flickr badges to add rotating content to your library sites
  • Link from your Flickr pages to your website, and from your library site to Flickr
  • Check your Flickr stats regularly, and report them with other library statistics

Winter Photographs of Your Library

Peabody Institute Library : Danvers, Massachusetts

It’s January, and for much of the country that means snow! You may not like to shovel it or drive through it, but snow transforms the landscape, changes the appearance of our buildings, and can make for some beautiful photographs of our libraries!

Pooh and Eeyore in the snowSo grab your camera, put on those mittens and get outside and take some photos of your library. Try for some interesting angles, near and far, including snowdrifts of snow, trees whose branches are delicately frosted in white or outdoor sculptures piled with snow, like this wonderful photograph of Pooh and Eeyore from the Newton Free Library.

Beverly Public Librarytrees whose branches are delicately frosted in white. If your library has a Flickr account, post them there, and be sure to add descriptive tags like snow and winter to make thenm findable. Add them to groups — not just library groups, but local and regional groups like North Shore, Massachusetts or New England. Use them to announce that you’re open despite a snowstorm, and to promote any special winter programs and activities.

Look around inside your library, too, for interesting snowy day photographs. Snowy views seen through the library windows? Wet mittens drying on the radiator in the Children’s Room? A snowman-themed craft program? Story hour children staggering in the door all bundled up in snowsuits?

And when you’re tired of the snow, remember the words of Frog’s father in Arnold Lobel’s wonderful Frog and Toad All Year:

“When I was small, not much bigger than a pollywog,” said Frog, “my father said to me, ‘Son, this is a cold, gray day but spring is just around the corner!”

Photo credits: Peabody Institute Library, Danvers and Beverly Public Library by Elizabeth Thomsen; Pooh and Eeyore in the Snow by the Newton Free Library.

Embedding Photographs from Flickr

Balch HouseIf your library posts photographs on Flickr, you may find it easier to copy and paste code from Flickr to embed some of your images in your WordPress posts rather than uploading the files into WordPress. When you embed files, they are not hosted on the server where your WordPress lives, but are served up from the Flickr site — when people look at your post, their browser requests most of the content from your WordPress host sends to the Flickr site for the image file. If someone clicks on your embedded image, they will go to the photo’s page on Flickr, as required by the Flickr Terms of Service. The two photographs on this page have been embedded from Flickr.