Whenever possible, use rich, sharp, colorful images from our collections, and photographs of patrons and staff actively using library services and spaces.

Avoid using photographs or images of the backs of people’s heads, outdated technology, empty spaces, and clip or stock art.

Choose images that show the library as a place that welcomes diversity, equity, and inclusion.

If critical information is included with the image, be sure to repeat that information in the caption or body text.

Finding images

Choose images from among:

  • originals owned by the library
  • public domain or Creative Commons content, properly sourced and credited
  • library image sources (where licenses allow images to be used in this way)
  • copyrighted images with the express permission of the owner
  • photos taken by you or a library colleague

The library is a public space, so in most cases you don't need consent to take group photos or video — but honor requests to not take photos or video of specific individuals.

Get a signed consent form for individual speakers and panelists who are recorded at events. You'll also need one for photos that show the face of a minor that is signed by their parent or guardian.


Use captions to provide information about an image, including attribution or credit. If you’re attributing the library, use proper naming.

Don’t use a caption if an image is a placeholder, a logo, or has very obvious content (such as a picture of the building exterior on a Shapiro Library page).

Alternative text

Alternative text, or alt text, takes the place of the image for users who can’t access the original, whether because of ability, environment, or technology. 

When writing alt text:

  • Describe what you want the image to convey rather than the particulars of what it looks like.
  • Repeat information presented in the image if it's not already in the accompanying text.
  • Leave off phrases like “image of” or “picture of.”
  • Don’t repeat the caption.

Decorative images

You do not need to provide alt text for decorative images — ones that don't convey information — including labeled icons.

Leaving alt text empty marks the image element as decorative and follows W3C Web Accessibility Initiative guidelines. Screen readers ignore this null (empty) alt text attribute, reducing audio clutter and improving the experience for people using assistive technology.

File types and sizing

JPG and PNG are the standard image file formats on the web. Our library website exclusively uses JPGs, and other platforms vary.

We tend to use horizontal images because they work best in a variety of layouts. Use 1185x790px images on our website — they work well at full size and also resize well for various devices and browser widths.

Large photos can slow down page load times and don’t look any better on the web. Optimize images so they’re less than 1 MB in file size. Changing the image to 72 dpi usually helps.

Print images look best at 300 dpi or higher. Don't use an image that's less than 150 dpi.

You can find information about changing resolution, size, and more in the guide All About Images.