All Wales image library discovery

All Wales image library discovery

In her first few months as Chief Digital Officer, Sam Hall began to hear anecdotally that in a number of local authorities (LAs), their image libraries were not fit for purpose. There were also issues around teams struggling to access images for comms and marketing work, having to purchase images from commercial image libraries, some uncertainty about image rights and the licenced use of images, and concern about images meeting accessibility standards.

It seemed that moving from locally held image libraries to a cross-LA shared image library may be a solution to these issues. Discovery work is usually solution-agnostic, but for this project we decided to focus on the feasibility of a specific solution. To ensure this was the right approach, we needed evidence. We wrote to LA comms teams and asked them to complete a basic survey to understand:

  • if they would have an interest in an all-Wales shared image library
  • if they thought that this would benefit their LA. 

We had 25 responses, and 24 (96%) of the respondents felt that a shared image library would be of benefit, so we moved ahead with the discovery.

The first step of the discovery was to send an electronic survey to contacts in LA comms teams asking whether their team used an image library, where this is currently hosted, whether they purchase stock images and if they experience any specific challenges with their image library. The responses helped us understand the landscape of image libraries across LAs.

We received 20 responses from 14 different LAs. 12 of the responding LAs wanted to be involved in the discovery project, 1 was happy with their current image library, and 1 wanted no further involvement. 14 out 20 respondents (70%) confirmed that their LA does currently use an image library, most of these were hosted on a local server, drive or folder, and 16 out of 20 respondents (80%) confirmed that their local authority often purchased stock images from commercial image libraries.

The survey also asked the question “Are there any specific issues or challenges you face with your current image library or when using commercial image libraries?.” The issues and challenges most frequently reported were the lack of Wales or area-specific images, time constraints, costs, purchasing duplicate images and issues around sharing between teams/departments.

Next, I held a focus group with 5 LA communications/marketing officers and managers and conducted one-on-one interviews with 2 image library users. This engagement gave us more in-depth insight into their current image library arrangements, the challenges they faced and the specific requirements for a shared image library. Although each LA had different arrangements and requirements from the others, there were obvious overlaps and shared themes.

Based on the user requirements and views collected in this study, we identified a real need across most Welsh LAs for a shared image library. We felt that it could:

  • Improve organisational access to a large collection of high-quality images, both within local authorities and between them
  • Improve efficiencies by rationalising and centralising complicated internal storage arrangements and reducing duplication of work
  • Limit the risk of legal issues around image rights and unlicensed usage 
  • Improve end user satisfaction by giving local authority staff access to more of the images that they need whilst reducing the time and effort needed to do so
  • Ensure that the images meet accessibility standards 
  • Reduce cost to local authorities by reducing need to purchase from stock image libraries
  • Encourage more joined-up working between local authorities.


The high level recommendation from this discovery was to move forward into an Alpha to explore how best to create a shared, centralised image library that could meet the needs of all Welsh LAs. You can find a detailed account of the discovery process and findings in the All-Wales image library discovery report.

For any further information contact me at tom.brame@wlga.gov.uk

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