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.

Google Tip: Sites with Images

Google has a handy filter that limits search results to sites with images, and displays a selection of the images for each site on the search results page. For many searches, I’m finding that turning this filter on makes it much faster to find the kind of site I’m looking for just by scanning through the search results. When I’m specifically looking for images, I often use this Site with Images feature rather than a Google Images search because I like having the images organized by site and presented with a little more context. It also helps me quickly identify a site with a historical or biographical slant, when that’s what I’m looking for. I also find this useful for travel searches, because even if I’m looking for information, I also want to see pictures, and for any sort of how-to search including cooking, crafts and home repair, because pictures add so much to those site.

You’ll find the Sites with Images filter in the left sidebar, under All Results. For some searches, you may need to click on More Search Tools to see this.

Google Sites with Images

Sample Searches

Here are some sample Google searches with the Sites with Images filter turned on:

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.

Our Favorite Plugins

In no particular order, here are some of the WordPress plugins that we’ve found useful.

  • sCategory Permalink — Allows you to set which category to use in the permalink
  • WP Random Header — This simple plugin by Callum Macdonald automatically rotates the header images for the Twenty Ten theme. We’re using it on this site — reload to see it in action.
  • WP-Table Reloaded — Manages tables for your posts and pages, with lots of options like row striping and column sorting
  • Flickr Blog This to Draft — If you use Flickr’s BlogThing to send photos to your blog, the default behavior is to immediately publish the post. With this plugin, the posts will be draft so you can check formatting, add categories, etc., before publishing
  • Broken Link Checker for WordPress — Alerts you to broken links, lots of options
  • Google XML Sitemaps Generator — Creates and maintains a file for Google to use for indexing
  • Facebook Like Button — Adds button to pages and posts

Custom Header Images for Twenty Ten Theme

Twenty Ten, the default theme for for WordPress 3, features a prominent header image. It comes with eight header images installed, photographs by Matt Mullenweg, the founding developer of WordPress. (You can read more about these photographs on his blog: The Headers of Twenty Ten)

Here are a few ways that you can customize the header images for your site:

Change the Header
If you don’t want to use the default image, there’s an admin panel where you can select one of the others. Just go to Appearance –> Header and scroll down to Default images. Look at the thumbnails, and click to select the one you want.
» Read more

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