Free prompts, inspiration, and images, await at the LOC

Mardi Gras
Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial; Washington, DC (Carol M. Highsmith Collection; US Library of Congress)

Regardless of the art form you work in, there’s a resource for your inspiration or blog right under your nose, and it’s completely free.

Whether you’re looking for something to inspire you, searching for a prompt for a written piece, or in need of imagery for your blog, look no further than the US Library of Congress.

The Library also has information on copyrights, and that is the starting point for registration of your own work.

One of my favorite collections to wander through is the Carol M. Highsmith Collection. Highsmith is a photographer, and her generosity is truly a beautiful gesture. The LOC explained:

“Highsmith, a distinguished and richly-published American photographer, has donated her work to the Library of Congress since 1992. Starting in 2002, Highsmith provided scans or photographs she shot digitally with new donations to allow rapid online access throughout the world. Her generosity in dedicating the rights to the American people for copyright free access also makes this Archive a very special visual resource.”

You could spend days just gazing at all the wonderful photos Highsmith shot and is sharing with the American people.

I’m a writer, so naturally another of my favorite sections at the LOC is dedicated to Books That Shaped America. Listed by title, the entries include a synopsis of each work.

Whether you’re a writer or visual artist, the photos and other content can spark an idea. Each image contains copyright information, so if a work is in the public domain (no restrictions),  you can use it freely.  If a work’s use is restricted, you can’t use it, but so many are in the public domain or available via the donor, that shouldn’t be a problem.You can’t resell the images, however, as Getty Images did. I remember reading about Highsmith’s lawsuit against Getty, and I was horrified. How could this corporation charge people for what Highsmith had gifted the American people?

The library also has a wealth of audio, with recordings of early bluesmen and women, poets reading their works, and a variety of heritage music as well. There’s a really cool recording of “Honolulu Tom Boy” dated 1904, a song alternatively called “Hula.” 

At present, you can view a wealth of information about Sigmund Freud, including his work on hysteria. Seems appropriate for the times.

Whether you work with words or paints, or needle and thread, the Library of Congress is a remarkable resource funded by US taxpayers and private donors. Next time you need a break, a prompt, or inspiration, check it out. Works for me!

(Filed by Kay B. Day/Feb. 7, 2017)



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