Omeka Workshop

On Tuesday I went to Digital Initiatives workshop on using on using I’ve only ever interacted with Omeka as a user and didn’t have any experience using the platform. The presentation slides are on the Digital Initiatives website.

Omeka is a content management system (CMS) and publishing platform that is used by many archives, historical societies, and libraries to build digital exhibits and small collections of objects. Omeka focuses more on metadata than WordPress so it’s a good option for collecting higher amounts of data and still being able to organize and present themes and narratives. The presenter went over concerns that should be thought about before choosing a CMS for a project such as:

  • metadata standards – what metadata standards do you want to use when importing your digital objects. Omeka defaults to Dublin Core but it can be customized
  • file formats – what file formats will be included? There are standards for file formats that you should think about, and this will also help you manage your storage i.e. a TIFF will require more storage than a jpg
  • information architecture – how do you envision accessibility and discoverability of your project
  • rights and permissions – do you have the rights or permission to use all the objects that will be used in your project?
  • sustainability – do you have the time to manage the project and update it when there are new versions of files available or to check compatibility with new media

The next part of the workshop was going through and using our test site to look at the different ways Omeka can be customized (we didn’t use Omeka S because of the cost and the extra features weren’t relevant for an introductory workshop), added individual items to the sites, and created a collection. The collections are comprised of items that are specifically curated to express a theme or narrative. I really liked the comparison that presenter mentioned where the items held in Omeka are the archive, but the collections are similar to pulling items out of the archive for a museum display.

Overall, the workshop was pretty easy and I found Omeka to be pretty accessible. I’ve used more complex CMSs tailored specifically for archives, so a lot of the interface looked pretty familiar. There was mention of an advanced Omeka workshop in the Spring that will focus creating exhibit and focus a bit on sustainability. The exhibits was the portion of Omeka I was particularly interested in so I’m looking forward to that.