Category: Omeka

Omeka Basics

From CUNY Academic Commons


Omeka Plug-ins — Image created using RTENOTITLE


This page provides some basic information about using Omeka. It does not in any way try to compete with the documentation found on Omeka’s wiki, screencasts, and group forums.   Definitely go there for technical help, and contribute to the Omeka community by asking questions, sharing insights, lessons learned, and best practices.  

Omeka’s Technology in a Nutshell

Omeka is a LAMP Application. It runs on Linux (operating system), Apache (web server), MySQL (database) and PHP (scripting language). On a simplistic level, the application can be broken down into three parts, it “core”, its plug-ins, and its themes.

Omeka’s “Core”

This is the heart of what makes Omeka work. As with all open source software, it is freely available to look at and modify. But in general, unless you have a really good reason, it is probably advisable to leave the core untouched. If you do modify this code, make a note of what you did, so that when you upgrade to a newer version, you can make you changes there too, if necessary.

Omeka’s Plug-ins

Plug-ins enhance Omeka with new functionality. They are purposefully left separate from Omeka’s core code. Developers from the Omeka’s community create plug-ins

Omeka’s Themes

Can Omeka play nice with WordPress?

The answer is up in the air. An interesting post on Omeka’s group group suggests that you can use a couple plug-ins to make it work. And check out the final result here.

Related Pages

Open Source – Digital Libraries

From CUNY Academic Commons



There are several studies that focus specifically on open source digital library software, and it is important to see if this subset of OSS has any specific evaluation concerns.

Comparing Digital Library Packages

Goh et al. (2006) conducted a comparative study of four OSS digital library packages and compiled a checklist to evaluate such programs. The framework they developed breaks down the products into five criteria for evaluation: (1) content management; (2) user interface; (3) User administration; (4) system adminstraction; and (5) other requirements. Each of these major sections is further broken down into features, and each evaluator checks a box if the feature is available. Scores are weighted and tallied and then compared.

Omeka Case Study

The recently published case study by Kucsma et al. (2010) investigates Omeka as a web publishing tool. The authors worked on a project for METRO whose goal was to build a directory of 30 digital collections. Three different digital collection management systems were considered: WordPress, Omeka, and Content DM. Omeka was chosen because it was attractive, easy to install, extensible, and was compatible with web and OAI-PMH standards. (p. 1). While METRO has a long history with ContentDM, the product was not selected because, as the author write, it lacks many of the “characteristics of a modern digital exhibition tool” (p.2). WordPress was not chosen because of its lack of collection building tools and they was not enough time to write a plug-in. The authors provide a good synopsis of Omeka’s functionality and describe the plugins they employed in the process. In general they liked their experience building this collection of collections with Omeka. The weaknesses were primarily with Omeka’s administrative functions. The authors found the “Item Add” function clumsy and time consuming and complained about the lack of support for controlled vocabulary in tag fields. They admitted that these were fixable, but would hesitate using Omeka for a large scale project before the issues were addressed. Search and retrieval functions were found to be weak, by library standards. In general, they found Omeka’s control over data to be “loose.” (p. 8). They also found that documentation of the core processes had lagged behind. The incomplete Codex was felt to be slowed down development of new plugins. Of the many strengths, the authors point out Omeka’s exhibit building ease.


Related Pages

Open Access Initiative (OAI-PMH)

From CUNY Academic Commons



Logo courtesy of Open Access Initiative

“The Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) is a low-barrier mechanism for repository interoperability. Data Providers are repositories that expose structured metadata via OAI-PMH. Service Providers then make OAI-PMH service requests to harvest that metadata. OAI-PMH is a set of six verbs or services that are invoked within HTTP.”


Harvesting from Digital Repositories

By “exposing” a digital collection’s metadata (i.e. publishing a url that can be used to access it), a repository can share its collections, as long as the metadata conforms to OAI-PMH standards. Harvestors can ingest the metadata, index it, and link to the urls that are contained within it.

For example, a web publishing tool such as Omeka can point at a OAI-PMH compliant digital collection in the Library of Congress, suck in the collection’s metadata and display it. Links to images may be clicked on via urls supplied within the metadata.

Useful Links

Related Pages


From CUNY Academic Commons

Free Omeka Stickers, Courtesy of Omeka

Omeka is an open-source software platform developed by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. As a “web-based publishing platform for scholars, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, educators, and cultural enthusiasts” (Omeka About Page, 2009, para. 1), Omeka resembles WordPress, with its plugins and themes, but is a very different platform. 

Omeka is OAI-PMH compliant, and is based on Dublin Core. It can ingest metadata in both CSV format and in XML. Point it at a open access repository and it can suck in collections whose XML is exposed for harvesting. Examples I’ve tried include a couple from the American Memories Collection (Library of Congress). These are digital collections, and Omeka ingests all the metadata, and the Dublin Core “identifier” field is generally a link to the image itself. Pretty cool…

For a good example of Omeka in action, check out Lincoln at 200

Serious Web Publishing

Museums, scholars and schools are actively experimenting with Omeka. Omeka allows for many collections, and has a plug-in that creates exhibits. It is easily to extend through PHP, CSS, Javascript and HTML. And a plug-in allows a collection’s metadata to be exposed for harvesting by indexers and others, including other Omeka powered websites.

Getting Started

To run Omeka on your own server, you can use A hosted version of Omeka is available at For a comparison of the two, see the About page.

Amanda French has posted an excellent “Introduction to Omeka” workshop lesson plan that can also serve as a tutorial.

Related Pages