Free and Legal Stock Images

Finding the perfect picture to put on your website, brochure, or Facebook event can be tricky, and it gets even more difficult if you’re making sure your photos are legal to use. That’s right, legally, you can’t use any picture you find on Google Images. Using these photos opens your library up to possible lawsuits for copyright infringement. Instead, look for photos that fall into Public Domain or have a Creative Commons license.

Public Domain: The person who created this work has waived their rights to the photo. This means that you can copy, change, distribute, and perform the work for commercial purposes without asking permission.

Creative Commons Licenses: These licenses allow creators to waive and reserve certain rights in regards to their work. This may include if the image can be used for commercial purposes, if it needs creator attribution, and so on.

A guide for helpful information regarding stock photos can be found here.

The following websites are full of free and ready-to-use photos (as long as you follow the licensing restrictions) to make your library marketing a little more beautiful:


Free No User Account No Attribution
Unsplash X X



Pixabay X X



Burst X Low Resolution: No account

High Resolution: Account


Creative Commons


Negative Space



Free Images X Account Needed

Various Usage Rights

Freepik (Graphics)

Most are free X Attribution to Freepik
Freerange X Account Needed


Vecteezy (Graphics) Most are free X

Attribution to Vecteezy

This post was written with sources from Angela Hursh’s blog “Super Library Marketing.


Copyright – digitization & digital projects

There are many questions to consider before undertaking a digitization project, such as:

  • What is the size and condition of the collection? What is the purpose of this project? How much will this project cost? Have the items already been digitized by someone else? What is the time frame?

Copyright is another factor that needs to be considered before starting a digital project. If fact, it is often a major factor. You do not want to be halfway through a digitization project, for example, and then discover you cannot share the scanned items due to copyright. Then all of that time and money will have been for nothing.

Just thinking about the word copyright can send cold shivers down your spine, and it may also invoke headaches and/or nightmares.

Sure, copyright can be intimidating. When it comes to digital projects, copyright is a significant concern. It can make or break a digital project, and it often determines whether a potential project is worth pursuing or not. However, being better informed about copyright can alleviate some of the burden. And in doing so, you will discover that copyright is not so frightening after all.

The best way to approach copyright is to first understand it.

What is copyright?

  • According to the United States Copyright Office, copyright “is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works.” (Copyright in General – U.S. Copyright Office)
  • Copyright is a form of intellectual property law that “protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.” (Copyright in General – U.S. Copyright Office)

What is public domain?

  • According to the United States Copyright Office, a “work of authorship is in the ‘public domain’ if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.” (Definitions – U.S. Copyright Office)
  • There are 4 common ways that works arrive in the public domain: copyright has expired, copyright owner failed to follow copyright renewal rules, copyright owner deliberately places it in the public domain, or copyright law does not protect this type of work. (Copyright & Fair Use – Stanford)

Once you have an understanding of copyright, then you can take what you have learned and apply it to your digitization project. Keep things couple things in mind:

  • If you have concerns or uncertainties about copyright when it comes to digitizing and digital collections, do your research. Use the resources provided here to determine the copyright status of the item(s) in question. If you have questions or need some assistance, contact Digital Initiatives.
  • If you’re not sure if an item is protected by copyright or not, get permission from the owner/ creator. Have them sign a permission form or a copyright release form. The Digital Initiatives department at the North Dakota State Library uses forms like this. So if you would like to see the forms or use them as an example, contact Digital Initiatives.
  • If the item is in the public domain, then it is no longer protected by copyright and it can be freely scanned and made accessible.

Copyright Resources

Friends of the Library Resources:

Friends of the Library help support libraries in many ways including volunteer services, fund raising, programming, and advocating for their library. The following resources are helpful whether your library is starting a Friends group, restructuring, or looking to grow.


Nebraska Public Libraries Friends and Foundations:

Nebraska Public Libraries Friends of the Library Groups:

United for Libraries Toolkits for Friends Groups and Foundations (use your library’s access credentials to log in):

Sample Memorandum of Understanding from ALTAFF:

Tool Kit for Building a Library Friends Group by Friends of Tennessee Libraries:

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction—Library Friends and Library Foundations:


Examples of Friends Bylaws:

Friends of the West Fargo Public Library:

Friends of the Bismarck Public Library:

Active Shooter Resources

Shootings are an unfortunate and frightening reality in today’s world. Statistically speaking, it is unlikely you will experience an active shooter situation, but that does not negate their seriousness. Planning and being informed can save lives.

There are a few simple things you can do at the office or at home to better prepare yourself.

  • Be informed – stay current on procedures and other relevant information
  • Be prepared – create a plan & participate in trainings
  • Be alert – pay attention to your surroundings, trust your instincts, & if you see something, say something (report suspicious activity to the local authorities)
  • Run. Hide. Fight.

Run. Hide. Fight. (Active Shooter: How to Respond Poster – Homeland Security)

There is a plethora of active shooter information and resources available online. Below is a listing of some of the best of the best.

More Information:



Books on Library Security:


Public Library and School Library Collaboration Toolkit

The “Public Library and School Library Collaboration Toolkit” has been released. Members of AASL (American Association of School Librarians), ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children), and YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) worked together for three years to create a document that benefits both school librarians and public librarians by encouraging them working together collaboratively.

This toolkit provides 5 chapters full of research, information, and examples for librarians to look towards when beginning collaboration initiatives between school and public libraries. There are also scrips and tips for both school and public librarians on how to overcome their different institutional hurdles.

Working together makes libraries and communities stronger. Look through the toolkit here.

ALSC put together a brief explanation of the toolkit here and has a list of successful past partnerships between school and public libraries that can be found here.

Telescope Kit Resources

One of the many STEM kits the North Dakota State Library has available through KitKeeper are 3 telescope kits. Each kit includes: 1 Orion StarBlast telescope, 1 Orion EZ Finder II red-dot sight, 1 copy of Night Watch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson,  5 eyepieces (6mm, 6mm, 12.5mm, 17mm, & 20mm), 1 2x Barlow lens, and 4 filters (moon, red, blue, & yellow).

The kit also includes a guide, which has a list of a few potential activities libraries can plan to go along with this kit. The sky is the limit (pun intended) on activities relating to telescopes, astronomy, and the universe, and this list functions as a starting point for ideas. All of the ideas listed on the guide have resources available online, which can be accessed at the links below along with some resources for the telescope itself.



The Moon:

Solar System Scale:


Word Search:

Book Odors and How to Handle Them

What’s the best way to remove the smell of smoke, perfume, or other unfortunate scents from your library materials? It’s a common problem in every type of library. In order to salvage your books, you’ll need a bin with a tight seal; stand the books upright in the bin to let the pages fan out and ventilate. Feel free to try different methods for different smells, but make sure to never spray or rub any of the deodorizers directly on the materials—there should always be a layer of separation. If you are deodorizing materials of archival value, only use the last method listed.

  1. Put coffee into knee-high hose and tie the hose in a knot. This keeps the coffee from getting too messy, but it removes the odor as well. Cover the bin and leave for several days. The coffee will need to be replaced every 6 months.


  1. Two similar options are to leave a box of baking soda open in the bin or to leave dryer sheets open and in the bin. Again, these will need to sit for several days and be replaced as needed.


  1. One of the most highly recommended options for deodorizing materials is to use non-perfumed, non-clumping cat litter (use the cheapest one you can find). Pour an inch or two layer on the bottom of the bin and cover it in paper towels; set the books upright on the paper towels and cover with the lid. Check the materials once a week, and if the smell is not gone after a month, replace the cat litter. This is the only method listed that is approved by the National Archives for use on archival materials.

Teen Book Clubs in Your Library

Are you looking to start a book club for teens at your library? A teen book club can be challenging in the beginning but will be rewarding once it is started. New teen programs may need to wait until there is an established group of teens that regularly attend programs or a Teen Advisory Group before they start a book club. This ensures that there will be active, regular participation.

Here are some resources to help you get started creating a book club for teens:

 Types of Book Clubs:

Traditional Book Club

In traditional book clubs, participants all read the same book and discuss it at the next meeting. This type of book club works well in larger systems where programs either have the funding to purchase books for members or an ILL system capacity to lend the materials out to every participant.

One of the challenges of a traditional book club is finding books that most of your readers will enjoy. Especially at the beginning, it’s important to talk to your readers about what genres and types of books they want. Consider crafting a ballot with 6 options and having everyone vote for their top three. Select the next 3 months’ books based on the tallied votes.

When choosing books, remember that some books are easier to discuss in a group than others. To encourage a more productive discussion, consider choosing character-driven novels with unique plot elements. Let students lead the discussion by focusing on what elements they think are interesting and relevant to their lives.

It’s also important to remember that teens are coming to this club willingly, and you are not assigning these books as homework. Let the teens know that it’s OK to not finish the book or to not like a book, but that you still want them to come to the book club to share those opinions.

To spice up this book club, consider adding book-related activities or snacks. These are great ice-breakers for both quieter students and new members, and it will help everyone feel included.

Genre Book Club

A genre book club has participants read different books but all of the books are from the same genre. The book club may have a different genre every month (fantasy, nonfiction, graphic novel, mystery, etc.) or maintain the same genre for the duration of the club (a mystery lover’s book club or science fiction book club, for example). Then, during the meeting, each member talks about the book that they read/are currently reading.

This book club format allows teens to read at their own pace and reading level and still be able to discuss books with their peers. As each member takes a turn talking about their book (often either recommending it to others or telling them to steer clear), they should try to avoid spoiling major plot-twists. This is a great way for peers to encourage each other to read new books rather than having an adult tell them what to read.

During the meeting, the club leader can try to direct the discussion towards common themes and elements within the certain genre as well as flaws with the genre, what is noticeably absent or taken for granted? This encourages the students to think deeper about the genres and the books they have chosen

Book Lovers Club

Come one, come all to a book lovers club. All participants are welcome to come to this book club. This simple club is more of a gathering for book enthusiasts to talk about what they’re currently reading and share recommendations. This is an easy gathering for teens to hang out and have a snack or to just attend and listen about all of the fun, wacky, or wild books their peers are reading. Discussions tend to be less structured in this type of book club, but if your goal is to keep teens reading and engaged, this may be the perfect place to start.


Tips and Tricks:

  • Make sure participants know that it’s OK to not like or finish a book; encourage them to come to book club anyways to share their opinions.
  • Combine forces with public librarians, local book store owners, and Library Media Specialists at the middle and high school levels to find interested individuals or different places to host the book club.
  • Remember that not all of your books need to be brand new. These are often expensive or have long waiting lists at the library. Choose books that are a few years older so that if you purchase them, they are more than likely available in paperback and if you request or ILL them, they probably won’t have a waiting list.
  • Give your participants buy-in by letting them vote for future titles or submit requests.
  • Supply snacks or other incentives


Book Club Questions to Get Teens Talking:

  1. What did you like best/least about this book?
  2. What characters did you like/dislike the most?
  3. Would you read another book by this author?
  4. Did you think the book was too long or short? What important elements were missing? What parts would you have cut out?
  5. What do you think of the book’s title and cover? Do they do a good job conveying what the book is about or were they misleading?
  6. Is this book or storyline unique?
  7. Did the characters and world seem believable or realistic?
  8. How did you feel about the ending? Did it wrap everything up or leave you hanging? Are you satisfied about the ending?
  9. Did the book make you think about anything differently?
  10. Would this book make a good movie? Why or why not?


YA and Juvenile Book Club Kits from NDSL through KitKeeper (as of 4-1-2018):

  • After Ever After; Jordan Sonnenblick
  • An Abundance of Katherines; John Green
  • Dairy Queen; Catherine Gilbert Murdock
  • Don’t Tell Anyone; Peg Kehret
  • Fahrenheit 451; Ray Bradbury
  • Flygirl; Sherri L. Smith
  • Frankenstein; Mary Shelley
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Msr. Basil E. Frankweiler; E.L. Konisgsburg
  • Going Vintage; Lindsey Leavitt
  • Heist Society; Ally Carter
  • I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban; Malala Yousafzei
  • Maximum Ride #1: The Angel Experiment; James Patterson
  • My Name is Not Easy; Debby Dahl Edwardson
  • The Book Thief; Markus Zusak
  • The Complete Maus; Art Spiegelman
  • The Fault in Our Stars; John Green
  • The Giver; Lois Lowry
  • The Maze Runner; James Dashner
  • Thirteen Reasons Why; Jay Asher


Helpful Websites:

ALA Book Discussion Groups:

Book Riot:


Teel Librarian Toolbox:

Teen Services Underground:

YALSA: The Hub;

Printing & Downloading PDFs on Digital Horizons

The Digital Initiatives department often gets calls or emails asking how to print or download a copy of an item on one of the State Library’s online collections on Digital Horizons, primarily PDFs from the ND County and Town Histories and ND State Documents collections.

It’s a simple process, and here are the steps to do it.

If you would like to download a PDF copy of an item or print it, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the item on Digital Horizons
  2. Click on the greenish printer icon on the right
  3. Select the “All” option
  4. A PDF copy of the item will then load (it may take a few seconds)
  5. Click on the download icon in your browser to download a copy, or click on the print icon in your browser to print

And that’s it!

Here is another tip.

If you would like your downloaded PDF’s to print out with uniform page size, follow these steps:

  1. In Adobe Acrobat (the program you use to view PDFs), click on the “View” menu at the top
  2. Click on “Page Display”
  3. Click on “Single Page View”

Then you can print.

Of course, if you ever have any difficulties or questions, you can always contact the Digital Initiatives department at the North Dakota State Library.

ScanDay FAQ

Help engage in building, sharing, and preserving North Dakota history by participating in a ScanDay event! Browse the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below to learn more about ScanDay.

  • What is ScanDay?
  • What is the procedure of ScanDay?
  • What items should be brought to ScanDay?
  • What happens to the digital copies collected after a ScanDay?
  • Where can we find the items from ScanDay on Digital Horizons?
  • What is the responsibility of an organization hosting ScanDay?
  • What can I do if I’m unable to attend a ScanDay but I’m interested in having my items added to Digital Horizons?
  • Will values or appraisals be given for the items brought to ScanDay?
  • Can my items be donated to the State Library?
  • Who should be contacted regarding ScanDay or Digital Initiatives?
  • What is the Digital Initiatives department?
  • What is Digital Horizons?

What is ScanDay?

ScanDay is an event hosted in libraries, schools, and institutions across the state, in which Digital Initiatives staff from the North Dakota State Library bring scanning and photography equipment to a community and digitize historical photographs, documents, and objects.

The purpose of this event is to get residents to engage in building local history by bringing in personal records, photographs, objects, etc. to be digitized and then displayed online on Digital Horizons.

What is the procedure of a ScanDay?

Participants will sign up for a time slot before the event takes place. The local organization hosting the ScanDay will have a signup sheet for participants. Participants can sign up for a 30 minute time slot. North Dakota State Library staff can only accommodate two participants during a 30 minute time slot, and 10-15 items per person.

Due to limited staff/ equipment and the processing time required, staff can only digitize 10-15 items per participant. Participants should have their items selected ahead of time, before going to the ScanDay event.

If you have more than 10-15 items (or certain items like scrapbooks, booklets, and oral histories) it may take too long for them to be digitized at the event. However, if you want to have these items digitized and added to Digital Horizons, Digital Initiatives staff may have to borrow the items for a period of time. The items would later be returned upon completion.

When arriving at their allotted time, participants will be greeted by State Library staff, who will then work with participants to review and assess the materials brought in.

Participants will be asked to fill out and sign a form, which allows the State Library to digitize the items, as well as retain and share the digital files. During the 30 minute time slots, ScanDay staff will work with participants to get contact information, digitize the items, and record the descriptive information (metadata) for each item.

The items participants bring are scanned or photographed, and then the items are returned to the participants. Flash drives will be provided to all participants, which will include digital copies of their items. Participants will also receive handouts relating to Digital Horizons, the State Library, and preservation.

The State Library will also retain digital copies of the materials, and they will be added to its digital collections. Staff will later process the digitized items and determine which to upload and display on Digital Horizons.

State Library staff will bring digitization equipment to the ScanDay event, including two flatbed scanners and a digital camera. The scanners can fit items approximately 8 ½ X 11 inches. Any materials larger than this will be photographed.

What items should be brought to ScanDay?

The Digital Initiatives department seeks to avoid limiting what attendees bring to ScanDay events. But to give some ideas, these are various things that would be acceptable to bring: photographs, letters, certificates, journals, artwork, artifacts, memorabilia, scrapbooks, etc. Each ScanDay participant is limited to 10-15 items.

Anything that celebrates or represents certain themes, including but not limited to: North Dakota history, city or county life, agriculture, structures that no longer exist, floods, pioneers, ethnicities, government, military, family history, sports, education, organizations, etc. It is preferred that items brought to an event have a North Dakota connection.

Photographs of all shapes and sizes are encouraged, but they should be clear/ not blurry. The items brought in can be from any time period, but more recent items – like photographs – should have been taken by participants so there are not any copyrights issues.

It is preferred that items brought to an event are identifiable (meaning the people, location, and approximate time period are able to be determined).

Bring as much information on the items as you can. Preparing an inventory, description, or notes of the items before the event would save staff a lot of time. Try to answer these questions for each item brought to ScanDay: Who? What? When? Where?

Here are some examples for photographs to give you an idea:

  • Who?
    • Who is in the photograph? Who is the subject?
    • Include full names (avoid things like “Mom” or “Grandpa”)
  • What?
    • What is going on in the photograph? What is the context?
    • Why was the photograph taken?
  • When?
    • Try to date the photograph
    • Even a date estimation, like “between 1925-1932” or “late 1940s” is better than nothing
  • Where?
    • Where was the photograph taken?
    • Where was the photograph published?

To give you some ideas of what to bring, you can browse the sampling of items brought to previous ScanDays available on the State Library’s Flickr. To give you even more ideas, you can also browse the entire North Dakota Memories collection.

Items that are generally discouraged include: newspapers or newspaper clippings, copyrighted materials (unless permission is obtained from the copyright holder), and anything that contains private information. As a general rule of thumb, do not bring anything to ScanDay that you would not be comfortable having displayed online on Digital Horizons.

What happens to the digital copies collected after a ScanDay?

The Digital Initiatives department works to sort through all the items digitized at ScanDays. Not all items scanned or photographed will be uploaded onto Digital Horizons. After processing is complete, the department works to catalog the information and upload them onto the Digital Horizons website.

The North Dakota State Library will also retain and preserve the digital copies.

Where can we find the items from ScanDay on Digital Horizons?

Items from ScanDays are part of the North Dakota Memories collection.

To narrow your search to a specific ScanDay location, browse the North Dakota Memories collection, scroll down until you come across the “Repository Collection” filter on the left, and then click on the ScanDay collection to see the items from that location.

What is the responsibility of an organization hosting ScanDay?

The responsibility of the organization is to provide a space for Digital Initiatives staff to set up equipment. The organization will also need to provide a table, chairs, and access to an outlet. Please contact the Digital Initiatives department prior to the ScanDay if your organization has any issues with these responsibilities.

Marketing materials (like a flyer and signup sheet) will be provided by the North Dakota State Library. The organization is responsible for distributing the marketing materials and answering patrons’ questions about the event.

Prior to the ScanDay, the State Library will create a Facebook event and make the organization a co-host; both parties will then have the ability to promote the event and invite participants.

The organization is responsible for lining up attendees. In some cases, the Digital Initiatives department may require a minimum number of attendees to be registered in order for the event to take place.

What can I do if I’m unable to attend a ScanDay but I’m interested in having my items added to Digital Horizons?

If you are unable to attend a ScanDay event but would still like to contribute your materials to Digital Horizons, contact the Digital Initiatives department at the North Dakota State Library to discuss options.

Will values or appraisals be given for the items brought to ScanDay?

No. The Digital Initiatives department cannot provide monetary values or appraisals for materials brought to a ScanDay event.

Can my items be donated to the State Library?

The North Dakota State Library is not equipped to accept physical items like photographs, documents, and objects. The State Library is not an archive so the physical preservation of these materials falls out of its scope. Certain items like books and histories (county, town, organizational, family, etc.) may be considered for acceptance into the State Library’s collections.

If you are interested in donating your materials to an institution that can properly store and care for them, consider contacting a local museum or historical society. You may also want to consider contacting the State Historical Society of North Dakota (either the Archives or Museum division).

Who should be contacted regarding ScanDay or Digital Initiatives?

If your library or organization is interested in having a ScanDay or if you have questions relating to Digital Initiatives, please contact the department at or 701-328-4622.

What is the Digital Initiatives department?

The Digital Initiatives department was formed in 2012 to share expertise in collecting, creating, and preserving digital copies of items relating to North Dakota’s cultural heritage and government.

The department offers services including training and consultation related to the creation, display, storage, and preservation of digital collections.

The department digitizes, shares, and preserves North Dakota-related materials, many of which are cataloged and uploaded onto Digital Horizons.

The department plans, organizes, and implements ScanDays.

What is Digital Horizons?

Digital Horizons is an online digital library consisting of thousands of images, documents, videos, and oral histories depicting life on the Northern Plains from the late 1800s to today. Digital Horizons provides a fascinating snapshot of the lives, culture, and history of the people who shaped life on the prairies.

Digital Horizons was established in 2007 and has grown to include contributors such as Concordia College, North Dakota State University, Prairie Public Broadcasting, North Dakota State Library, State Historical Society of North Dakota, and more!