Up and Running with Omeka.net

omeka logoYesterday I had fun teaching a beginning Omeka workshop at THATCamp Feminisms West, a really great event at Scripps College. (It deserves a post of its own, but that will have to wait until I have a little more energy. Alex Juhasz has a nice post about it.)

Omeka’s documentation is actually very good, but experience has taught me that students really appreciate handouts. So here’s a digital version of my handout for a beginning Omeka workshop.

I know a lot of people teach these workshops, so feel free to use or modify this material (PDF version, Word version) if it’s useful for you. And here’s a handout that offers a quick Omeka vocabulary lesson and some guidance on whether Omeka’s the right tool for your project.

I also have a post and handout on the next step with Omeka, creating an exhibit.

As an aside, I make these tutorials with Blue Mango’s ScreenSteps software, which I highly recommend.

[Edit: Thanks to Jon Ippolito, who tipped me off to this interactive screencast about building an Omeka exhibition.]

Sign up for an Omeka.net account

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Go to www.omeka.net and click on Sign Up. Choose the Basic plan. Fill in the sign-up form. Check your email for the link to activate your account.

Create your new Omeka site

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After you’ve clicked on the link in your email, click on Add a Site. Fill in information about your site’s URL, the title you want to use, and a description if you’d like. Click on Add Your Site.

You have a new Omeka site!

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To see what it looks like, click on View Site.

An empty Omeka site

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This is your empty Omeka site, waiting to be filled in. To get back to your dashboard, click the Back button or enter http://www.omeka.net/dashboard. This time, click on Manage Site.

Switch themes

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Omeka allows you to change the look of your public-facing site by switching themes. To do this, click on Settings (at the top right of your dashboard), then select Themes on the left side of the page. Switch themes by selecting one of the options on the page. Press the green Switch Theme button to activate your new theme. Then visit your public site by clicking on View Public Site at the top right.

You have a new theme!

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Once you’ve checked out your new theme, head back to your dashboard. You can switch back to your old theme, stick with this one, or select one of the other options.

Install some plugins

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Your Omeka site comes with plugins, which offer some extra functionality. We need to enable them. To do that, click on the red Settings button at the top right. On the following page, click the Install button for Exhibit Builder (leave the options as they are on the page that follows) and Simple Pages.

Add an item to your archive

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Click on (naturally!) Add a new item to your archive.

Describe your new item

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Remember, Dublin Core refers to the descriptive information you’ll enter about your item. All of this information is optional, and you can’t really do it wrong. But try to be consistent.

To learn more about Dublin Core, check out its documentation. I find the description of its element set particularly helpful (scroll down on this page to find it).

Be sure to click the Public checkbox so that your item is viewable by the general public. If you don’t click that box, only people who are logged into your site will be able to see the item.

To add multiple fields — for example, if you want to add multiple subjects for your item — use the green Add input button to the left of the text boxes.

A tricky question

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I’m creating an item record for my dog, Bertie. But am I describing Bertie himself or a photograph of Bertie? If it’s the former, the Creator would be — well, I guess that depends on your religious outlook. If it’s the latter, the creator would be Brad Wallace, who took the photo.

The decision about whether you’re describing the object or the representation of the object is up to you. But once you’ve decided, be consistent.

Attach a file to your item record

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Once you’ve finished adding Dublin Core metadata, you can attach a file to your item record by clicking Files to the left of the Dublin Core form. (You don’t have to click Add Item before you do this; Omeka will automatically save your information.) You can add multiple files, but beware that the Basic plan only comes with 500 MB of storage space.

Once you’ve added a file or files, you can add Tags by clicking on the button. You can also click on Item Type Metadata to choose the kind of thing — person, place, animal, vegetable, mineral — your item is. If you don’t see the appropriate item type for your item, don’t worry. We can add a new item type later.

When you’re all done, click the green Add Item button.

You have an item!

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This list contains all the items you’ve added. Notice the green checkmark that appears in the Public column. To see what the page for your new item looks like, click on the name of the item.

This is not the public page for your item.

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It may look like it, but this page isn’t what a non-logged-in user will see when she navigates to the page for your item. To see what a user would see, click on View Public Page. (Or you can edit the item by clicking on Edit this item at the top right.)

This is the public page for your item

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This is what a general user will see if she navigates to your page.

Create a collection

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You can begin to bring order to your list of items by grouping them together in collections. To do this, return to your dashboard, click on the Collections tab, and click on Add a Collection.

Enter information about your collection

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In Omeka, metadata is king! Enter some information about your new collection, and remember to click on the Public button near the bottom of the page. Then save your collection.

Add items to your collection

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To fill up the collection you just created, click on the Items tab. From your Browse Items list, click the boxes of the items that belong in your new collection. Then click on the green Edit Selected Items button.

Choose the collection

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On the Batch Edit Items page, select the Collection you’d like to add your items to. (Also, take note of all the other things you can do on this page.)

Check out your new collection

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Return to your public site. If you click on the Browse Collections tab on the public-facing site, you should now have a new collection containing the items you identified.

Now that you’ve added some items and grouped them into a collection, take some time to play with your site. It’s beginning to take shape now that you have both individual items and thematic units. But Omeka can do even more. We’ll talk about that in the next lesson.

6 thoughts to “Up and Running with Omeka.net”

  1. Thanks so much for this tutorial; got the link from a friend. I am using it when teaching my DH class Omeka next week. This is fantastic!

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