Best Practices for Attributing Images on Your Library’s Website

Everyone knows high-quality images are critical to any successful website, but finding great free or low-cost images is just part of the challenge. Images also need to be properly attributed. But it's easy to do with a few simple guidelines and tools. Read on for information on image attribution, plus some tips and tricks for best practices.

Firstly — why do we even need to attribute images when we use then?

There are two main reasons we want to ensure proper image attribution online.

  1. Simply to be courteous when using images and graphics created by someone else, even when those images are available for free online.

  2. To ensure compliance with any relevant laws regarding copyright.

Creative Commons is a great resource for additional information on best practices for image attribution, and they have a great way to help you remember if you’re attributing images correctly.


The TASL acronym stands for Title, Author, Sources and License. And these are the four main things you need to keep in mind when attributing images online.

  • Title

    • Does the item have a name?

    • If the image you’re using has an original title, make sure to use that when using the image.

  • Author

    • Who owns it?

    • If there is an author of the image, make sure to list the creator or creators.

  • Source

    • Where did you find it?

    • Ensure you’re listing the URL where you accessed the image from the original source.

  • License

    • How can this image be used?

    • If you’re using an image with a creative commons license ensure you’ve made a note of that. There are six different types of creative commons licensing, and be sure to include which one the image is being shared under.

Secondly, how can you add image attribution to images you’ve added to your website? BiblioWeb provides a built-in option to provide image attribution when you upload images to your Media Library. None of the attribution fields are required in BiblioWeb, but looking at the TASL framework above you can make the best choices about what information you would like to add.

MUSHROOM image biblioweb attribution.png

In this example, we’ve used an image of a mushroom from Flickr and have added in the relevant details about the image. The image title, source URL, image author, the author’s URL, the Creative Commons license version, the Creative Commons license URL and any modifications that have been made to the image, in this case, we cropped it from the original.

When this image is used in a card in BiblioWeb a small “i” will appear on the image, and when clicked will display the image attribution information you provided.


And there you have it! That’s how easy it is to ensure you’re adding proper attribution to the images used on your website.





How do I know what Creative Commons images I'm allowed to use?

There are a lot of different situations — it's best to take a look at the summary of the licenses that Creative Commons has put together. 


If I'm going to crop the image, should I note that as a modification?

Yes.  Here's the relevant excerpt from the Creative Commons FAQs: "You must also indicate if you have modified the work—for example, if you have taken an excerpt, or cropped a photo. (For versions prior to 4.0, this is only required if you have created an adaptation by contributing your own creative material, but it is recommended even when not required.)"


Should I attribute images that are Creative Commons 0 (CC0)?

Although not required, (the CC0 FAQ states: "No, there is no legal requirement that you attribute the affirmer, only an expectation that you will voluntarily do so if requested"), the Creative Commons FAQs suggest that you do provide attribution: "While the attribution requirements in the license are the minimum requirement, we always recommend that you follow the best practices for the kind of use you are making."


Should I attribute Public Domain images?

Although not required, The Harvard Law School recommends attributing public domain images.  Here's an excerpt from their blog post Finding Public Domain & Creative Commons Media: "Even if a work that you use is in the public domain, it is advisable to provide attribution for the work or, at a minimum, keep a record of the attribution of the work, so that you or other interested parties can find it later if necessary."

Interested in learning more about how BiblioWeb can help you build, create and upkeep an engaging library website?