multimedia tools

19 free multimedia tools to inspire library and information people

July 10, 2020
Clare Brown

Creating engaging and powerful multimedia, images and videos can be a real challenge for library and information people. Effective marketing relies on us making a real impact on social media and other communication channels. Our sophisticated and visually attuned audience wants to be entertained, inspired, educated, and informed - in new and interesting ways.

As proof that even the most text based, traditional areas of information are being visually transformed, City Law School has recently launched an inspiring website called TL;DR which aims to be a showcase for legal learning and communications focusing on alternative visual ways.

Why do we need images, video and infographics?

Images help our text and data tell stories in a more lively and entertaining way. They take dense paragraphs and convert documents into easy to read, visual pieces of content that people will remember, understand, and engage with. Spreadsheets and statistics are daunting at the best of times but clever use of infographics can bring your flat figures to life. 

Here are some handy tips to keep in mind as you create your graphics and multimedia:

  • Fit for purpose: Know your audience and keep it appropriate. Note that some of the best infographics take the reader by surprise by referencing something unexpected. Andy reminds us, "there is no one size fits all!"
  • Importance of narrative: The image or video should let the underlying facts tell a story - there should be a beginning, middle and end. Use a story board!
  • KISS: Keep your design simple and straightforward. Your colour palette, editing, music choices, and font design all contribute to the overall message. Use your organisation's branding where possible!
  • Keep it legal: If you are using images or music from the internet, take care that you don’t get caught out by copyright.
  • Videos: these should be short, dynamic, clear and entertaining.
  • Finally, choose your social media platforms with care as this will affect what you create and post. 


Where can I get creative inspiration?

A blank piece of paper can be as daunting as the swathes of text or spreadsheets you are looking to illustrate. One idea is to start with a pen and paper and sketch out some ideas but don’t over complicate - or over-think - it. Watch out for free webinars and blogs aimed at information people, which can also get you started. 

One memorable example of effective use of infographics in libraries was provided by the Advocates Library in Scotland. The audience at BIALL were amazed by what could be achieved - a true success story which you can replicate. All we need is the imagination and inspiration and there is plenty of information creativity on the internet. 

Learn more about branding ›

Video is vital in a library and information management context

Video production and consumption is massive. Hubspot “announced that video has absolutely dominated social...and according to a recent HubSpot Research report, four of the top six channels on which global consumers watch video are social channels”.

A Forbes article predicted that internet video traffic will make up over 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2021. But you want your videos to stand out from the crowd and have maximum appeal to your intended audience. There are many reasons why you might create videos in a library and information management context.

Although videos are obviously important, they are a daunting prospect. There are some downsides, for example:

  • they require a lot of planning, and must be kept short and snappy for the best impact
  • users in certain industry settings may experience access or broadband restriction
  • not everyone wants to be featured on video so that might present challenges
  • if recording clips on your computer, be careful you are not sharing any sensitive information
  • it has to be easy to view, and all technical issues need to run smoothly. Viewers will be put off by any accessibility problems. 

Help! How do I get people to focus during online training?

Recommended multimedia resources

We have access to a variety of free software that can help create a strong professional message. This is not an exhaustive list of multimedia resources so please let us know what you enjoy using! I've focused on free sources because library budgets don’t often run to expensive commercial software.

Editing and creating images

  • GIMP - is a good open-source alternative to Adobe Photoshop. GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. 
  • Inkscape - like GIMP, Inkscape is a free open source piece of software, with a large community of users. It is a sophisticated drawing tool with capabilities comparable to Adobe Illustrator, CorelDRAW and Xara Xtreme. It can import and export various file formats, and is useful for website graphics. 
  • Canva - is a complete design solution and works in partnership with many not-for-profit organisations. There is a subscription pro-version available. 
  • Krita - is a free and open-source graphics editor designed primarily for digital painting and animation purposes. Since 2009, its focus has been on painting and the Krita community aims to make it the best painting application for cartoonists, illustrators, and concept artists.

Other photo apps include Pixlr and XnView. There are also web-based photo editors for quick, professional edits. For images I have used Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash, and most recently Pikwizard which incorporates an editing tool. For icons, there is Flaticon. For free fonts, try Fontsquirrel and Google Fonts

Make your infographics standout!

  • Venngage - I recently used this to create the infographics above!
  • Visme - enables you to create professional presentations and infographics online with many free templates available. 
  • Piktochart - create reports, presentations, infographics, social media graphics, and prints.

I'm bored with technology   Why should it matter to me?

Create great videos with multimedia software

  • Lumen5 - has both free and premium versions. Quick, intuitive and you can easily create striking videos.
  • Openshot - is a free, open-source video editor for Linux, Mac, and Windows. It is designed to be an easy to use, quick to learn, and surprisingly powerful video editor so you can easily cut, slice, and edit any video or film.
  • Shotcut - another free open-source video editor.
  • Kdenlive - this is an acronym for KDE Non-Linear Video Editor. It is free and open-source video editing software.
  • VSDC Video editor - free video software that allows you to edit video files and create videos of all types.
  • Blender - is a free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports 3D pipeline-modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, as well as video editing and game creation.
  • Screencastomatic - I have used this to create recordings from my screen - ideal for step by step demonstration of online processes. As it says, it does the job easily and efficiently. 

And finally, let AI take the inspiration strain

All the multimedia ideas in the world can't help if you haven't got a great name. If you're looking to launch or rebrand a bulletin, webinar, podcast or blog then this name generator might give you some ideas. I saw it on Twitter recently and decided to give it a try on some everyday library publications.

  • News Bulletin: it gave me such options as DayPages, dailydetails, BestDaily, afternotes, PressBloom, Daily Directions,, or my favourite DailyCollab. 
  • Law Library Podcast: it gave me such options as Chatroom, nontraditional, NetLibrary, nonprint, Blabbering, opac, Stacks, and my favourite for this one is Libity. 
  • Library and Information Training programme: it gave me such options as deskservices, Insights Library, Biblioverse

Once again, if you start with potential names on a piece of paper, it is easier to throw around ideas and get the creative juices flowing! 


Where do you find inspiration? What have you recently created? How has your audience reacted?