Last week I blogged about “Getting Started with Omeka“.  This week I’d like to talk a little bit about what you might do once you have Omeka installed on your server.  At least, I tell you what I did and you can act accordingly as you build your own site!  I’ll again write presuming that you have little or no knowledge on the subject.

The next steps to getting your Omeka site launched are very fun and not at all intimidating.  Basically, you’ll be adding a little bit of content to your site and getting a feel for Omeka and what you might do with it.

The first thing you’ll want to do is add an “item” or two.  If you are concerned about putting your fledgling efforts on the web for all to see, Omeka gives you the option to keep your items private for now.

An item can be anything you want.  If you were going to do a site on the correspondence of Henry James, each item could be a letter. Or, as in this site on Children and Youth in History, it could be a historical toy. On Nineteenth-Century Disability, one item is these fabulous photographs of people with disabilities in motion by Eadweard Muybridge (am I the only one who wishes he was plain “Edward”?), annotated by Keren Hammerschlag.

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Screenshot of Nineteenth-Century Disability, “Animal Locomotion” by Muybridge

To add an item, once you are on the administrative dashboard of your site, you go to “item” and click on “add item”.  You’ll be prompted to add a description of the item according to the Dublin Core Fields, which involve metadata like the date and creator of the item.  Not all of them will apply to your item, but you want to do your best to fill them out accurately.  If you are having trouble, a friendly librarian could probably help you make informed decisions about metadata.  Under “Files” you can attach any images (or even videos or audio clips if you had them) of your item.  Under “item type metadata”, which was almost always a document in my case (the photograph above is an exception), I put a transcription of the text of the original document.  What you put might be different.  I’ll talk about “Collections” and “Tags” for each item in a later post.

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Screenshot of the administrative dashboard for Nineteenth-Century Disability, showing how to add an item.


The upside is that you’ve put some content up on your site, probably all in an afternoon, without even touching the server or rewriting a file!  Hooray for instant gratification! The downside is that the items are just floating around on your site, and could use some more context and organization. Omeka offers a way to do this, with “collections” and “exhibits”, which I’ll blog about later this week.

The individual items probably also look a little ugly. Or, at least, there are probably a few places that you’d like to prettify the site as a whole.  This is going to involve changing some of the files on your server, which I’ll blog about next week.

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