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Libraries at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Architecture Library Guide

This guide is designed to provide location-specific information about the branch library in the Greene building, and services pertinent to users in the School of Architecture.


When using images that are not of your own creation you must always be careful to avoid copyright infringement. It is a complicated issue, but here are some points to keep in mind:

  • If a work is recorded, published, or simply posted to a server it is automatically protected under copyright law. There is no need for a Copyright Notice or Registration.
  • Some creators attach a Creative Commons license to their work. There are six CC licenses with varying degrees of use-restriction. In all cases, credit must be given to the creator of the work.
  • Architects and artists automatically hold the copyright to their created works. However, a photographer owns the copyright to images taken of those works.
  • The Fair Use doctrine which is part of the Copyright Law, outlines four factors which could allow use of a work without obtaining permission from the copyright holder.

The four factors defining Fair Use:

  • The Purpose of the Work
  • The Nature of the Work
  • The Amount of the Work Used
  • The Effect of its Use on the Market 

For detailed information on Copyright and Fair Use see this Copyright Quick Guide from Columbia University Libraries  - This page is licensed by a Creative Commons Attribution License with attribution to its author Dr. Kenneth D. Crews (formerly of Columbia University). 

Collections licensed by Rensselaer

These images are licensed for use by the Rensselaer community. Rensselaer faculty, staff and currently enrolled students may display and or print these images without limitation for teaching and research purposes at Rensselaer. By accessing these images, you agree to the terms of the license agreement.


"Archivision" is an educational image resource for architecture, urban design, garden landscape, landscape architecture, and public art. Rensselaer Libraries has acquired the base package of the Archivision Digital Archive which is comprised of 16,000 images with extensive data. According to descriptions on their web site, the "Archive's Base Collection is a core architecture collection representing major Greek, Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, 18th & 19th Century and Modern sites selected from our more than 100,000 slide archive."

Saskia Ltd. Cultural Documentation

Saskia Ltd. Cultural Documentation provides high quality digital images of works of art for scholarly study and research. Rensselaer Libraries has licensed approximately 3400 images from Saskia that are mounted on our campus-wide network and are for use by the Rensselaer community. 

Sanborn Maps: Boro of Manhattan - find information and links on the Art & Architecture tab of this guide.


Finding Images to Use

The best ways to avoid copyright infringement are to use images of your own creation, or use those made freely available or covered under an appropriate Creative Commons license. And be sure to always give proper attribution to the source and/or creator of the images.

Some sources of images that may be available to use:

Creative Commons Search

Flickr Advanced Search - click on the "Any License" dropdown for license options

Google Advanced Image Search - use the "usage rights" filter to find the appropriate license

Wikimedia Commons - see information about Reusing content

Useful websites

A&A: art and architecture 

The art & architecture project from The Courtauld Institute of Art.

ArchitectureWeek Great Buildings Collection 

One thousand buildings and hundreds of leading architects, with photographic images and architectural drawings, integrated maps and timelines, 3D building models, commentaries, bibliographies, weblinks, and more. Image Library 

Founded in 1999, in an architecture webzine that features today's most creative projects, as well as the most influential of the past. (from website)


Art Libraries Society of North America - a professional association whose members include architecture and art librarians, visual resources professionals, artists, curators, educators, and others interested in visual arts information.


 Art history: resources on the web 

Art history resources and news compiled by Dr. Christopher L. C. E. Witcombe, professor at Sweet Briar College.

The Charles W. Cushman Photographs 

A collection of photos documenting everyday life in the mid-twentieth century in the United States as well as other countries.

Cyburbia image gallery 

Cyburbia connects planners, students, academics, urbanists, and others who are interested in or help shape the built environment.

Digital Imaging Project 

Art historical images of sculpture and architecture from pre-historic to post-modern.

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History 

The Met's Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History pairs essays and works of art with chronologies, telling the story of art and global culture through the Museum's collection.

Introduction to Historic Armenian Architecture 

A portion of the Armenian Architecture Photographic Archives Project.

Library of Congress: American Memory 

"American Memory is a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more than 7 million items from more than 100 historical collections."


International database for civil and structural engineers with information on the design and construction of projects around the world including profiles on the companies and individuals involved as well as product descriptions.

Visual Collections 

The Visual Collections site from Cartography Associates contains dozens of digital image collections from Museums, Universities and private collections throughout the world.

 Visual Resources Association 

VRA is a multidisciplinary organization dedicated to furthering research and education in the field of image management within the educational, cultural heritage, and commercial environments.