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NSF Home IMAGE LIBRARY HOME Contact NSF Image Library How to Use the NSF Image Library
How to Use the NSF Image Library


About the NSF Image Library

Please read the section Conditions before requesting any image in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Image Library.

Most of the images in the library are not the property of NSF. They have been donated by external sources with the understanding that whoever uses an image will adhere to all restrictions placed upon the image regarding its use and will include the proper credit information when using the image.

NSF has strict guidelines regarding the use of images from the library. These guidelines are outlined in the section Conditions . NSF encourages you to use images in the collection but expects you to adhere to any restrictions that may accompany an image, particularly those in which you are asked to obtain permission prior to use.

Organization of Images in the Library

Images in the NSF Image Library are organized in the following categories:
  • All Images – A compilation of all images available for immediate download directly from the NSF Image Library for use by NSF staff and the public.

  • New Additions – Displays new images added to the collection within the past 30 days.

  • Images in the News – A compilation of images that have accompanied NSF Press Releases, News Tips, and Media Advisories and links to these media documents. Generally, these images do not appear in the All Images section because NSF has not been granted permission to include them in the library for general use. If this is the case, permission must be obtained directly from the university or from the individual owner in order to use the image. A few of these images are in the main library and are noted as such.

  • NSF Senior Staff – Portraits of National Science Foundation and National Science Board (NSB) senior staff and their accompanying biographies. Unfortunately, these are not downloadable from the library in a larger size at this time. Steps are being taken to improve the functionality of the library in the near future and making high resolution files available will be one of the improvements.

  • Photo Sources – A list of suggested internal and external image sources to assist you in your search for images.

Using the Search Engine

Images in the library can be searched using a general text search; by Title or Caption and Credit lines; by category; by decade; or you can specify to search only for images that depict NSF-supported research and activities.

Image Sizes/Formats

Availability of resolution sizes vary for each image in the library but range from low (72 dpi) and medium resolution formats (generally used for electronic purposes) to high resolution format (300 dpi). Images intended for print purposes must be 300 dpi or greater, otherwise the image quality will be poor.

The largest file size we have available will be accessible from the library. See "Formats Available" on the caption and credit screen of any image. The largest file size available from the library will be stated here. This will be the file that you will receive after completing the electronic request form.

Please note: when NSF requests an image from the owner, we ask for the highest resolution obtainable. However, this is not always possible so some images in the library will not be available in high resolution format.

How to Download an Image from the NSF Image Library

Step 1: Once you have determined what image you would like to use and you have read the Conditions section, click on the image thumbnail and scroll down to "Restrictions." Any additional restrictions placed on the use of the image beyond what is stated on the Conditions page will appear here. Be sure that your proposed use of the image will not be in violation of these additional restrictions. In some instances, the owner asks that you contact him/her for permission prior to using the image. If this is the case, be sure and do this before downloading and using the image. Also, be sure and save the credit information so you have it with your image when you are ready to use it.

Step 2: Prior to downloading an image from the library, NSF requests users to complete an electronic information form (see "Request this Image" on the caption and credit screen) that documents the requestor's planned use for the image. Completing this form gives NSF insight into how images in the library are being used and what areas of science are in most demand. NSF can use this valuable information to help shape the contents of the library in the future. We do not retain personal information such as name or email address in our files. This is voluntary however, so if you would prefer not to type your name and email address, type any letter in those boxes. For information about NSF's Privacy Policy, please see http://www.nsf.gov/home/pubinfo/privacy.htm.

Step 3: Once the form is completed and submitted, at the very next screen, the image file will appear. Roll your mouse over the file name, right click the mouse button, and follow instructions to either open the image or download it directly to your own computer. If you have followed all the previous steps, you may now use the image. You will not receive a confirmation e-mail or message that your request has been received from NSF. The ability to access and download the file means your form was received by NSF.

Were you unable to find an image you were looking for? Please let us know what area of science you were seeking or what subject matter you were unable to find. We will try and obtain these images for future use. Please send us an e-mail at OLPA-Images@nsf.gov. Suggestions for improving the library are also welcome.

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Last Modified: Dec 14, 2001