Omeka.net is a “web publishing platform for sharing digital collections and creating media-rich online exhibits.” Users can also publish their work on services that work on laptops, tablets, and smartphones. In an increasingly digital world, this is a highly helpful platform for museums, historians, universities, public history practitioners, etc. to utilize in showcasing their findings to large audiences.
While Omeka.net requires a paid subscription, users can try the service on a free trial to see if it is right for them. Signing up for the trial does not require to input any payment methods. The free trial allows users to operate one website and have 500 MB of storage. While there is no deadline for the free trial to end, users can upgrade to one of the four paid plans – which range from $35-$1,000 per year – if they want more storage, operate more than one website, more plugins, and more themes. The plans also detail who those plans would best suit them, such as the priciest plan, Platinum Plan, being suggested for institutions.
After creating one’s account, users can create their site. It will ask users to name their website and what theme they would like to use. For me, I named my site “Little Known Histories” as I want to share stories that are not commonly known and ones that have been historically obscured over time.
Next, users are directed to their dashboard, which shows their recent items and collections added. While one can add Items and Collections using their respective tabs on the left side of the screen, users can also click to add a new item or new collection on the dashboard as well.
For the Items page, one can view the items already added. Users can add new items, show details of the items already added, and search items that were previously added. I used a photograph I found of St. Elizabeths Hospital, which shows a pond at the hospital in the 1900s, as an example.
In adding an item, the process is simple. When adding an item, Omeka utilizes Dublin Core, which is a metadata element set, for all of Omeka’s users’ records. In the “Dublin Core” tab, users can upload the source, as well as add various information in the spaces for labels and further information. The labels include adding the source’s title, subject, description, creator, source, publisher, date, contributor, rights, relation, format, language, type, identifier, and coverage. The labels right above the text box have their descriptions so that anyone – whether they are familiar with inputting historical data or new to it – know what they mean. To further describe the source, users can create tags for the source under the “Tags” tab for virtual visitors to search and find the easier on the website, especially if the visitors are researching on the internet for specific information.
In the “File” tab, users can upload file they want to be displayed on their website, such as a photograph or an oral history interview. Omeka.net states that users can add text, moving images, oral histories, sound, still images, emails, links, a person, services, websites, events, lesson plans, interactive resources, software, 3D objects, and datasets. Users can see this in the “Item Type Metadata” tab and select the category that item fits under. For the total number of sources in each category, users can click on the “Item Types” on the left side of the screen. When creating an online exhibit, it is helpful having a service where you can upload multiple different types of sources instead of just one or a few of them.
For Collections, the layout of the page is the same as the items in that it shows all of the collections you have created. The information also details who the contributors are – which is important to know when working in groups – date the collection was created, and how many items are in the collection. For this example, I named my collection St. Elizabeths Hospital.
The process for adding a collection is the same as adding an item as the Collections page also utilizes Dublin Core and the same descriptive labels.
It is important to remember that items should be uploaded first and then added to the collection. This can be done by clicking on the “Edit” button on the item and add it to the collection they want to on the right side of the screen.
Users can also search the tags they created when they click on “Tags” on the left side of the screen. There are instructions included of how to read, edit, and delete a tag. On the bottom of the screen, it shows all of the tags the user has created. In this example, I added the photograph of the pond to the St. Elizabeths Hospital collection.
Other important features are located in the top right-hand side of the webpage. The “Plugins” tab shows that user what plugins are available to them in their current Omeka plan. In the free trial, users have access to COinS, CSV Import, Exhibit Builder, LC Suggest, Locale, OAI-PMH Harvester, Omeka Api Import, Shared Self Link, and Simple Pages. If people are unfamiliar with these plugins, there are descriptions of each to see if this is something the user would find useful for their project and install on Omeka.net. Under the “Appearance” tab, users can edit the themes of their webpages using the themes available to them under their current plan. The “Users” tab allows one to add more users, which is highly helpful when working in groups whether in class or an institution.
Overall, Omeka.net is a free, user-friendly tool that is great in using to share findings with the large audiences on the Internet, especially for an online exhibit. If you want to create a blog, I would recommend WordPress. Omeka.net under the “Showcase” tab – which is on the same introductory screen as the pricing when you first sign up for your account – shows different websites that have been created for different purposes, such as one for mapping data and one for an oral history archive. If you are creating a site with a similar purpose and/or project in mind, one can peruse that website to gain some tips and tricks for their own, new website. This website also has a multitude of tools and plugins that can help meet the purpose of your website’s goals and organize it clearly for visitors. Additionally, a virtual platform allows people to share this information with a larger audience than it would if it was at a museum or in an academic paper. It is a great resource for people to use who work in museums – from small to larger ones – and those who like history, whether they are professional historians or someone who does not work in the history field but is passionate about a certain subject, such as local history, to create an online exhibit for.
– Meredith Jackson