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Omeka: Omeka

Tips, tutorials, and recommendations for using Omeka to publish online multimedia exhibits, digital heritage and research projects.

What is Omeka?

Anthony Bushong and David Kim provide a concise definition of Omeka in Intro to Digital Humanities: What is Omeka?

"Omeka is a web publishing platform and a content management system (CMS), developed by the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University.  Omeka was developed specifically for scholarly content, with particular emphasis on digital collections and exhibits.  While Omeka may not be as readily customizable as other platforms designed for general use, such as WordPress, Omeka has been used by many academic and cultural institutions for its built-in features for cataloging and presenting digital collections.  Developing content in Omeka is complemented by an extensive list of descriptive metadata fields that conforms to Dublin Core, a standard used by libraries, museums and archives (for more on metadata and creating a data repository, click through to the creating a repository section).  This additional layer helps to establish proper source attribution, standards for description and organization of digital resources–all important aspects of scholarly work in classroom settings but often overlooked in general blogging platforms." 

The UCLA Center for Digital Humanities Intro to Digital Humanities online coursebook provides valuable instruction on digital humanities concepts, methods, and tutorials for students and instructors and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.  For those interested in repurposing content from the guide, materials are authored and author attributes appear on each page. Individuals interested in providing feedback or contributing to the coursebook can visit the Feedback/Contribution page for additional details (Drucker & Kim, n.d.).

A little Omeka History

Excerpt from Amanda French's  Introduction to Omeka - Lesson Plan.

“Omeka” (pronounced oh-MEH-ka) is a Swahili word meaning “to display or lay out wares” 

The Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media began building Omeka in 2006; they wanted to abstract the technologies they were using repeatedly to build historical websites, all of which required setting up a searchable database that was integrated with an online exhibit.

One of the first sites to use a proto-version of what would become Omeka was the Hurricane Digital Memory Bank, an archive of personal stories and digital records related to the 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Another was the April 16th Archive, a commemoration of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting tragedy. Omeka 1.0 was officially released for public use in June 2009.

Other Selected Omeka Sites

@CofC Libraries: Tutorials, Workshops & Guides

Visit the "How-To" Research Guides for tutorials and classroom resources on specific digital scholarship topics and tools.

What Is Omeka from Omeka on Vimeo.

What Is Omeka from Omeka on Vimeo.

Why Use it?

Excerpt from the Omeka About page.  For more information, visit the Omeka website.

  • Use Omeka to publish an essay or digital dissertation, share primary source collections, and collaborate with others in the creation of digital scholarship.
  • Use Omeka to share collections and build online exhibits with objects you cannot display in the museum. Invite your visitors to tag and mark items as favorites, or to contribute content. Start a blog to publish museum news and podcasts.
  • Use Omeka as the publishing tool to complement your online catalog or launch a digital exhibit.
  • Use Omeka to share your collections, display documents and oral histories, or create digital archives with user-generated content.
  • Use Omeka to build inquiry-based tasks for students, to create lesson plans with accompanying primary sources, or build learning modules with your team.

Read how others are using Omeka in the public Zotero group.

College of Charleston Examples

College of Charleston Libraries 

Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)

Lowcountry Digital History Initiative (LDHI)

  • A digital public history project hosted by the Lowcountry Digital Library (LCDL) at the College of Charleston. Funded through a pilot project grant from the Humanities Council of South Carolina and a major grant award from the Dorothy and Gaylord Donnelley Foundation, LDHI began development in 2013 and launched in 2014 as a digital consultation service, scholarly editorial resource, and online platform for partner institutions and collaborative scholars to translate multi-institutional archival materials, historic landscape features and structures, and scholarly research into digital public history exhibition projects.

Gran Vía Madrid Digital Humanities 

  • SPAN 630: Seminar in Hispanic Studies, taught by Benjamin Fraser is an interdisciplinary digital humanities-centered course conducted in Spanish at the graduate level.  Course assignments focused on Madrid's central artery - The Gran Vía - an emblem of urban modernity that plays an explicit and implicit role in numerous cultural products from the 20th century. Students reviewed a variety of visual texts and collaborated with Professor Benjamin Fraser and library faculty Jolanda-Pieta van Arnhem to create the Gran Vía Madrid Digital Humanities exhibit and interactive map using Omeka and Neatline during spring 2014. This brief introductory video by Professor Benjamin Fraser introduces the Gran Vía Madrid Digital Humanities project.
  • Class Syllabus | Library Instruction

Documenting Culture: Emerging Art Practices and Archives (Exhibition/login required)

  • A digital humanities independent study course for the Public Administration Graduate program at the College of Charleston taught by Jolanda-Pieta van Arnhem.  The independent study course focuses on ethnographic field research. Students identify a local contemporary artist (in Charleston and surrounding areas of South Carolina) and through research and fieldwork explore primary themes or narratives they wish to document in the artist's work over the course of the semester. Students learn ethical research practices, become IRB certified, learn digital documentary skills (audio/video/photo production) and design and create an online exhibit and timeline using the Omeka platform.  
  • Each project is intended to add to a growing body of work and larger collection that will document contemporary art practices in the area. Students in this course collaborate with the professor and with library faculty housed in the Digital Scholarship and Services department. This project will be curated over time by the professor and library faculty.