Videos, Images and Sounds
This page focuses on finding videos, images and sounds that can be used in papers, presentations and other academic projects or which have scholarly value for research such as oral histories, musical performances, audiobooks, etc.
If you are looking for popular or educational DVDs and VHS tapes, please see the note titled “Popular and Education DVDs” in the right column. If you are looking for instructional videos and tutorials that demonstrate how to use various library tools and resources, see our Instructional & Reference Videos page.
CCSearch (Creative Commons Search) provides a convenient tool to find open web content that you can mix, adapt and re-use. Not precisely a search engine, CCSearch offers convenient access to search services provided by other sites and includes music, video and images.
Databases focusing on videos:
Academic Video Online searches both American History in Video and World History in Video. These databases feature documentaries, newsreels (both government and corporate), public affairs videos, and archival footage. Users may search the transcripts of videos, make customized clips and download them to use in presentation.
Ambrose Digital Streaming Video is a collection of streaming video clips and full programs. We have access to the full database, including any new videos that get added in the next years. At the time of writing, the database currently includes all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays produced by BBC as well as additional films in history, social sciences, literature, fine arts, and the sciences.
Filmakers Library Online is a collection of over 1,400 international documentary films made from 1974 to the present by independent filmakers from all over the world. They are feature length films, providing hundreds of hours of viewing and transcripts that scroll as the video plays.
Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) – Neuroscience & Biology. JoVE is an online peer-reviewed journal devoted to investigations of the structure, function, physiology, and pathophysiology of the brain and nervous system, and the publication of biological research in a video format.
Music and Performing Arts Subscription Channel – a large and diverse catalog of music content in the world for students, scholars, and patrons of the arts. The multimedia resource features works from thousands of respected partners, covers hundreds of genres from alternative rock to zydeco and from alternative dance to operatic arias, and encompasses a wide range of content formats—including scores, reference, and high definition audio and video.
Databases that contain videos include:
African-American Experience (ABC-Clio) contains some video presentations on African-American history and life. Choose “Media & Visuals” from the Advanced Search screen.
Birds of North America features audio and video of different bird species.
Britannica Online contains a large number of videos of general and contemporary interest. Choose “Media Collection” to begin a subject-based search of video titles. Sample subjects include: “Animals,” “Arts & Literature,” “Science,” “Sports & Recreation” and “Society.”
Business Source Complete provides the Harvard Business School Faculty Seminar video series. Choose “Business Videos” from the main search screen.
Global Issues in Context contains over 15,000 videos on global issues, conflicts and events. Use advanced search to limit to video or “Browse Issues and Topics” for a more general overview.
GREENR (Global Reference on the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources) features a gallery of more than 400 videos relating to the environment. Videos include interviews, lectures, and commentaries.
Databases focusing on images
Arts & Architecture Complete (Ebsco) – Full-text coverage, indexing and abstracts and an image collection of over 63,000 images. Subjects include antiques, art and art history, interior and landscape design, etc
ArtStor provides over one million digital images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences with software tools for teaching and research.
Oxford Art Online this database provides access to The Dictionary of Art, Oxford Companion to Western Art, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, and Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms plus links to more than 40,000 images.
Databases that contain images include
Britannica Online has images, diagrams and more. Be sure to narrow your search to multimedia.
CREDO Reference has images and diagrams from numerous reference sources. Click “preferred” for Images in Results.
Image sources from the open web:
The Drake Heritage Collections have historic images of Drake and Des Moines.
The Life Photo Archive hosted by Google contains “millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today.” Particularly useful for historic photos of American life. Searchable. See individual images for use information.
Metropolitan Museum Initiative “… more than 400,000 high-resolution digital images of public domain works in the Museum’s world-renowned collection may be downloaded directly from the Museum’s website for non-commercial use—including in scholarly publications in any media—without permission from the Museum and without a fee.”
NASA Images and NASA Images Gallery provide a wealth of astronomical, space and technology images related to or extending from the United States’ space program. Nearly all materials are released to the public domain by NASA.
Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog contains more than 1.2 million digital images, including photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. Whenever possible, the Library of Congress provides information about copyright owners and other restrictions in the catalog records or other texts that accompany collections, but as with most other open web collections, rights assessment is ultimately your responsibility.
Wikimedia Commons contains more than 12 million images that can be freely used. Note that permissions vary and you may need to provide attribution or meet other criteria under GPL, Creative Commons and other licenses.
Databases that focus on auditory information
We have hundreds of music CDs, from popular to classical. Search for them using our online catalog’s Power Search. Limit your search term(s) by selecting “Audio CD” from the “type” dropdown menu.
Databases that include auditory information
The African American Experience includes music and interviews, including testimony from former slaves. Click “Resources” then “Audio Files.”
Birds of North America Online is a database where you can listen to bird calls.
CREDO Reference contains a variety of audio clips. Click “Advanced Search” and then check Audio in the “Entry Features” box.
Auditory information resources from the open web
British Library Sounds provides collections of unique sound recordings from all over the world that cover the entire range of recorded sound: music, drama and literature, oral history, wildlife and environmental sounds.
LibriVox provides audiobooks for titles in the public domain created by volunteers.
Western Soundscape Archive contains recordings of a wide variety of animals from the Western U.S.
Search the online catalog for the title you are looking for. Be aware that this will search for books and print journals with that title as well. To narrow your search to only DVDs and VHS tapes, change the Location to “DVDs/Videos.” Note that not all of our videos are shelved here so you might not see what you’re looking for unless you do a search of the entire catalog.