AIRS: Academic Image Reference Service

What is AIRS?

AIRS is the unique educational image service offered to schools, libraries and institutions. Founded by 4-time ALA "Best Reference" award-winner Jay Robert Nash, AIRS allows any teacher, student, or patron to:
  • rapidly locate and select historical and contemporary images and accompanying text,
  • quickly organize the results (and optionally compose into a document), and
  • easily download or print images and text for non-commercial purposes.

The AIRS system is fast, inexpensive, efficient, and easy to use. Our simple, intuitive interface makes it possible for anyone to work like an expert. Plus, AIRS works on all computers — the user needs only a web browser (Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, etc.).

What Makes AIRS DIfferent?


Take AIRS for a free test drive before you subscribe!

Part of AIRS distinctiveness stems from the fact that it perfectly meets the criteria for educators by offering three specific advantages over "community-oriented" content:

  1. AIRS provides legal re-use of content. It effectively solves the content-usage problem presently faced by all teachers and students in schools and universities, who must contend regularly with issues of plagiarism, copyright violations, and the resulting (expensive) litigation. By offering images on a non-commercial royalty-free basis, AIRS indemnifies teachers and students from action by third parties.

  2. AIRS is an authoritative information resource. Unlike open web sites (such as Wikipedia™ which has recently been criticized for its "social network" approach to knowledge), AIRS is wholly accountable for its content. Images and text are researched and developed precisely as encyclopedias, textbooks, and other scholarly resources have been traditionally produced in the past. There is an internal peer-review process and errors, omissions, and other content-specific issues are handled in strict accord with this process. Teachers in particular greatly prefer this methodology over the purely Internet-based approaches of "collaboration" and "anonymous contribution" found in most free-information web sites.

  3. AIRS accounts can be managed on an IP-address basis. The vast majority of educational institutions provide student access through existing information systems, managing and tracking usage in accordance with their own internal policies. AIRS infrastructure can be set up to comply with nearly any technical requirement an institution may need to impose.

What does AIRS offer?


See samples of what AIRS can do: Sample Document 1   Sample Document 2
Sample Document 3   Sample Document 4

Choose from among thousands of subjects, categories and topics. The remarkable scope and breadth of the AIRS image library offers something for everyone (new images and records are being continuously added). More than 100,000 images and accompanying text records are presently in process or available online for review at and this number is increasing daily. Any subscribing school or library, its teachers, students or patrons will have unlimited access (24/7) to the complete AIRS image library.

Comprehensive captions from accredited historians and experts accompany all images. Links (keywords) in each image record provide in-depth cross-referencing. The ever-accumulating content of AIRS essentially constitutes a visual encyclopedia of the world (refer to AIRS Editorial and Reference Guidelines and AIRS Image Sources for additional information).

Images can be printed or downloaded individually, or can be assembled into HTML or PDF documents (with accompanying text). The AIRS document assembly system lets you personalize your documents online. You can even enter your own text and format documents according to your requirements.

Users will be able to download or print as many images and/or composed documents as they wish for non-commercial applications, including curriculum development, reports, PowerPoint presentations, research, historical articles, or for inclusion in other documents (see partial applications list below).

What Academic Disciplines are covered by AIRS?

The following list of sample topics offers just a glimpse at a portion of the AIRS image library as applicable to some academic disciplines. With literally millions of images in process, the numbers shown are increasing daily and new topics are continuously being added. You can presently review these images directly at Click on any topic to view the present online image collection(s).

NOTE: image-protection watermarks do not appear on AIRS images. Only a tiny identifying logo appears at the extreme bottom right corner.

Click to view Comprehensive Subject Index

Topic or Category (these are just examples) Currently Online
Agriculture Farms & Farming 909
Animals 821
Anthropology 3,211
Archeology: Chinese Dynasties 573
(selected examples) Egyptology 527
Greek (Era) 224
Roman (Era) 437
Architecture 1,784
Art (Visual Arts): Illustrations 1,901
(selected examples) Paintings 2,251
Political Cartoons 330
Sculpture 1,148
Aviation 790
Business: Advertising (Marketing) 9,259
(selected examples) Posters 1,755
Slogans (Marketing) 1,508
Criminal Justice 1,755
Design: Automotive 510
(selected examples) Bridges 505
Buildings 1,946
Dams 69
Furniture 280
Towers 411
Walls 353
Earth Sciences: Geology 91
(selected examples) Lakes 415
Maps (Cartography) 100
Mountains 554
Oceans 467
Rivers 1,211
Volcano (Volcanoes) 146
Fashions (Apparel) 484
Historic Landmarks 1,383
Horticulture Flowers 2,897
Plants 11,209
Shrubs 909
Trees 1,416
Vegetables 1,008
History: Abraham Lincoln 1,026
(selected examples) Activists 230
Actors 6,243
African Americans (Prominent) 479
American Civil War 3,942
History (continued): American Civil War (full color) 643
(selected examples) American Revolution 132
American West (19th Century) 1,341
Catherine the Great 182
Disasters 257
French (History) 1,637
German (History) 1,381
Great Depression (1930s) 388
Holocaust 155
The Jazz Age (1920s) 129
Marie Antoinette 189
Military Leaders 2,400
North American Indians 1,145
Personalities (staff illustrators) 273
Politicians (worldwide) 1,705
Russian (History) 589
Sports 1,304
U.S. Presidents 2,090
World War I 436
World War II 1,141
Literature Authors 2,013
Performing Arts: Ballet 72
(selected examples) Dance 322
Film & Motion Pictures 13,179
Legitimate Stage 72
Music & Musicians 374
Religion Christian 517
Buddhism 192
Labor 177
Marine Life: Fish 218
Reptiles 55
Military Military Science 3,159
Weapons & Weaponry 179
Ornithology 463
Recreation 214
Ships 1,633
Technologies: Clothing 225
Pottery 510
Tools 118
Transportation 487

Click to view Comprehensive Subject Index

How can AIRS help us?

In general, AIRS can be used for any non-commercial application. There are so many ways to make use of AIRS that we can offer only a partial list of possibilities, some of which include:

  • Lesson studies
  • Term papers
  • Thesis
  • Reports
  • Research
  • Posters
  • Artwork
  • Design
  • Placards
  • Demonstrations
  • Celebrations
  • Ceremonies
  • Teacher/librarian PowerPoint presentations
  • Non-commercial school newsletters or publications
  • Theatrical scenes, backdrops and stage settings
  • Educational or academic institutional websites
  • PDF presentations
  • Educational image quizzes
  • Staff and therapeutic patient use in hospitals and medical centers
  • Educational or research aids
  • Student projects
  • Non-profit handouts, promotional materials
  • Special events — and much more!

How Can We Subscribe to AIRS?

Just fill in our subscription form — we'll do the rest.

AIRS is adding new images daily.