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Omeka: Omeka Basics

Guide to accompany library workshop on building online collections with Omeka. Omeka is a free, open source platform for publishing digital collections on the web.

Questions about using Omeka at Cornell

For questions about using at Cornell, please contact vs.

The basic differences:

In greater detail:

Help getting started with


Glossary of Omeka Terms
(from Omeka; See also: Site Planning Tips)

Item: The basic unit of an Omeka site. An item can be anything: a photograph, a work of art, a person, an idea. You’ll describe each item, and you can upload files to represent it, too. You’ll build your Omeka site by assembling items.

Collection: A set of items that you’ve grouped together. Your Omeka site can have multiple collections, but an individual item can only belong to one collection at a time.

Exhibit: A thematic tour of your items. Each exhibit has pages, and pages can be nested. A page is a group of items (along with descriptions). You can have multiple exhibits, and items can belong to multiple exhibits.

Item Type: An item, can be many different things, like a photograph, a website, a book, or a person. An “item type” is just the kind of thing the item is. You can choose from a built-in list of item types, or you can create your own.

Simple Page: A web page on your Omeka site that isn’t part of an exhibit or item. For example, you can add an “About” page using Simple Pages. Pages can be nested.

Dublin Core Metadata

For more info, see:

  • Title: A name given to the resource.
  • Subject: The topic of the resource. Examples: Library of Congress Subject Headings; Getty Vocabularies: Art & Architecture Thesaurus®; Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names®; The Union List of Artist Names (ULAN)®
  • Description: An account of the resource.
  • Creator: An entity primarily responsible for making the resource. Examples: Author, Creator of Archival Collection (Collector, Manuscript author, etc.), Artist, Photographer, Sculptor
  • Source: A related resource from which the described resource is derived, such as the name of the collection.
  • Publisher: An entity responsible for making the resource available.
  • Date: A point or period of time associated with an event in the lifecycle of the resource.
  • Contributor: An entity responsible for making contributions to the resource, such as the organization that contributed the digital image.
  • Rights: Information about rights held in and over the resource. Examples: In the public domain; For high quality reproductions, contact...
  • Relation: A related resource.
  • Format: The file format, physical medium, or dimensions of the resource.
  • Language: A language of the resource.
  • Type: The nature or genre of the resource.
  • Identifier: An unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context. Examples: Call #, archival accession number.
  • Coverage: The spatial or temporal topic of the resource, the spatial applicability of the resource, or the jurisdiction under which the resource is relevant. The temporal or geographic focus of item.

Get Started

Create a Site

Step one: create an account by signing up with



Step two: You can join the Cornell Sandbox or add a site.
You can use your free account & add a site. Cornell community members may request a site using the Cornell platinum site license. To request a site, email

Choose a unique subdomain name that will be part of the site’s address. If you are requesting a site at Cornell, provide the subdomain name and site title. These cannot be changed, so consider them carefully.


Adding Items

Step Three: Add Collections & Items

Learn to love metadata!

Metadata: data about data, or descriptive information about a thing.
‚óŹ Understanding Metadata (PDF): from NISO (the National Informational Standards Organization)

Add items: Here are a few test files you can use to upload to Omeka and enter as new items.
Feel free to add your own images, sound files, pdfs, etc. You can use the image sources or primary sources tabs on this guide for additional resources.

Dublin Core is the metadata structure that Omeka uses for "items" in "collections"

You may want to use Controlled Vocabulary: for some of the fields, such as subject headings.


Themes : similar to themes in WordPress, themes in Omeka control the overall look & feel of the site. In, you must choose from a limited number, but if you know CSS, you can customize themes to a certain extent. You can also select different themes for your overall site and individual exhibits.

Plugins allow you to extend Omeka & take advantage of external software and databases Plugins

{ selected descriptions | downloads}

Essential Plugins:

Other great plugins:

Organize & Present

Create a collection

Extra help, also from Miriam Posner

Create an exhibition

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