Omeka

Omeka is an open-source web publishing platform for sharing digital collections and creating media-rich online exhibits.

For more information about access to Omeka, or to set up a consultation, contact the DH@CC Team.


Quick Links

DH@CC Quick Guide to Omeka: A Google Docs copy of the Quick Guide provided on this page.

DH@CC Omeka Video Tutorials: A playlist of short videos created by the DH@CC Team to teach you the basics of Omeka.


Last Updated: 30 April 2020

Quick Guide to Omeka

What is Omeka?

Omeka is an open-source web publishing platform for sharing digital collections and creating media-rich online exhibits.

Minimal technical expertise is required to use Omeka, but users with more advanced skills are able to experiment with customizing their Omeka projects.

Getting Started

Omeka allows you to create a free account, but with that free account you’ll have access to limited features. The Claremont Colleges Library maintains an Omeka hosted account, so if you create a site through us, you’ll have access to advanced editing features that aren’t otherwise available. If you’d like to create an Omeka site:

  • Contact the DH@CC Team with details about the goals of your project. If we decide that Omeka is a good platform for your project, we’ll ask you to choose a subdomain name and a title for your Omeka site. 
    • Note that the url for your site will be in the form of subdomainname.omeka.net, so you’ll want to keep that short and sweet. You can always change the title later, but you cannot change the subdomain.
  • Once your site has been created, the DH@CC Team will work with you to determine which Plugins should be installed on your Omeka site.

Note that Omeka also offers desktop applications for locally-hosted projects for individuals or institutions, but we typically recommend that projects at The Claremont Colleges take advantage of the web-based, hosted platform.

If you’d like access to an existing Omeka site contact the site administrator or the DH@CC Team for more information about how to join.

Items & Metadata

Items are the basic building blocks of an Omeka site. To Add an Item to your Omeka site:

  • Navigate to your Dashboard.
  • Click the Items tab in the left navigation bar. 
  • Click the Add an Item button at the top of the page.
  • Click the Dublin Core tab and populate the appropriate metadata fields. Recommended best practice for all metadata fields is to use a Simple Vocabulary. Also note that you can add additional records to a field by clicking the Add Input button.
    • Title – The name given to the Item.
    • Subject – The topic of the Item. Typically, this will consist of keywords, key phrases, or classification codes. When appropriate, the Library of Congress Classifications can be employed to standardize information in this field.
    • Description – An detailed account of the Item. Description may include but is not limited to: an abstract, a table of contents, a graphical representation, or a free-text account of the Item.
    • Creator – The entity primarily responsible for making the Item.
    • Source – The source from which the Item is derived (ie: an archive, a book, etc.).
    • Publisher – The entity responsible for making the Item available.
    • Date – A point or period of time associated with an event in the lifecycle of the Item. Date can be one of the trickiest fields to fill. You will want to decide how best to use it for your project for consistency. Where possible, a structured date such as YYYY-MM-DD for a specific day or YYYY for a specific year is preferred, but other formats or levels of specificity can be used (ie: “circa 1940,” “mid-20th century,” etc.).
    • Contributor – The entity responsible for adding this Item to this Omeka site (ie: your name).
    • Rights – Information about rights held in and over the Item. Typically, this information includes a statement about property rights associated with the Item, including intellectual property rights.
    • Relation – A related Item. Typically, this will reference the Identifier of another Item in your Omeka site.
    • Format – The file format, physical medium, or dimensions of the Item.
    • Language – The language of the Item.
    • Type – The nature or genre of the Item
    • Identifier – An unambiguous reference to the Item within a given context. Typically, this will be a string conforming to a formal identification system.
    • Coverage – The spatial or temporal topic of the Item, the spatial applicability of the Item, or the jurisdiction under which the Item is relevant. Spatial topic and spatial applicability may be a named place or a location specified by its geographic coordinates. Temporal topic may be a named period, date, or date range. A jurisdiction may be a named administrative entity or a geographic place to which the Item applies. Named places or time periods can be used in preference to numeric identifiers such as sets of coordinates or date ranges. When appropriate, the Thesaurus of Geographic Names can be consulted to standardize information in this field. 
  • Click the Item Type Metadata at the top of the page and populate the appropriate Type Metadata fields. Recommended best practice for all metadata fields is to use a Simple Vocabulary.
  • Click the Files tab at the top of the page and add files (screenshots, images, audio, etc.) to the Item.
  • Click the Tags tab at the top of the  page and assign Tags to the Item. Recommended best practice is for Tags to be standardized across an Omeka site.
  • Assign the item to a Collection using the drop-down menu on the right side of the page. Remember that Collections must be created before Items can be added, and an Item can only belong to one Collection.
  • Choose to make the Item Public and/or Featured on the right side of the page.
  • Click Add Item on the right side of the page to save your work and add the Item to your Omeka site.

Collections

Collections are a useful way to organize and group your Items. To Add a Collection to your Omeka site:

  • Navigate to your Dashboard.
  • Click the Collections tab in the left navigation bar. 
  • Click the Add a Collection button at the top of the page.
    • It is possible for your Collection to consist of a Title and Description, or you may assign it a full complement of metadata.
  • Choose to make the Collection Public and/or Featured on the right side of the page.
  • Click Add Collection on the right side of the page to save your work and add the Collection to your Omeka site.

Remember that Collections must be created before Items can be added, and an Item can only belong to one Collection. To assign an Item to a Collection:

  • When editing an Item, select the appropriate Collection using the drop-down menu on the right side of the page.

Exhibits

The Exhibit Builder Plugin allows you to develop online Exhibits, or special web pages, that combine Items from your Omeka site and may include your own narrative commentary. Exhibits are composed of Pages. These typically include an initial Page that introduces your Exhibit and subsequent Pages composed of the Items from your Omeka site that you want to highlight and and put into conversation with one another. To make an Exhibit:

  • Navigate to your Dashboard.
  • Click the Exhibits tab in the left navigation bar. 
  • Click the Add an Exhibit button at the top of the page.
    • It is possible for your Exhibit to consist of a Title and Slug, or you may assign it a full complement of metadata.
  • Choose to make the Exhibit Public and/or Featured on the right side of the page.
  • Click the Save Changes button on the right side of the page.

Once you’ve created your Exhibit, you’ll need to start adding Pages that showcase your content and commentary. To add Pages to your Exhibit

  • Click Add Page at the bottom of the Exhibit page.
  • It is possible for your Page to consist of a Page Title and Page Slug, or you may assign it a full complement of metadata.
  • Add new content blocks of Items and commentary to your Page.
  • Once you are done making changes to the structure and metadata of the Page, click Save changes or Save and Add Another Page on the right side of the page.

Best Practices

Planning

It is much easier to use Omeka if you have a good idea at the start of your project about what you’d like your site to look like and consist of, especially if you are working on a Omeka site collaboratively. Be sure to spend time drafting a detailed outline of your Omeka site before you begin to build it. 

Your planning questions may include: What are the primary goals for this Omeka site? Who is the primary audience of this site? What sections will this site include? How detailed do I want my metadata scheme for Items, Collections, and Exhibits to be? The Omeka Planning Guides created by the DH@CC Team can help you through the planning process.

Metadata

One of the most useful features of Omeka is the ability to add a robust metadata scheme to Items, Collections, and Exhibits that will not only enable standardization across your site but also allow your archive to communicate with external resources. Think carefully about how you will use this functionality. Although you can go back and edit metadata at any point during your project, note that it is much easier to assign metadata when Items, Collections, and Exhibits are initially created.

Simple & Standard

While you can experiment with a variety of useful Plugins in Omeka, Simple Pages and Simple Vocabulary are two of the most useful features you can add to your Omeka site, especially if you are creating an Omeka site collaboratively.

Additional Resources

Omeka Classic User’s Guide – A thorough how-to manual written and maintained by the creators of Omeka for Omeka Classic, the desktop version of Omeka that is very similar to the web-based platform used at The Claremont Colleges.

Omeka Demo Projects – A list of demo projects curated by the creators of Omeka.

Omeka Planning Guides – Worksheets to help you plan your Omeka site created by the DH@CC Team.

DH@CC Quick Guide to Omeka: A Google Docs copy of this Quick Guide.

Omeka Video Tutorials

LICENSING
© 2020 Digital Humanities at The Claremont Colleges.
Unless otherwise indicated, all materials licensed by the CC 4.0 BY-NC License.

DH@CC has been made possible through a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.