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NexGen Omeka: Classic to S, the Next Generation of Omeka

2016 January 12
by Sheila

In November 2015, I represented the Omeka team at IMLS’s Focus conference held in New Orleans to share the latest developments in the Omeka software family.

Below are my slides, and the notes from my talk.

I am here representing the Omeka team at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and we are ever grateful to IMLS who has funded Omeka, from its earliest manifestation in 2007.

I’d like to take you on a brief journey showing you where Omeka started and where we are going related to collections data interoperability and our aspirations for offering GLAMs a way of onboarding to the Linked Open Data landscape.

In the early 00’s, we learned from collaborating with many cultural heritage institutions that there was a need for an easy-to-use, collections-based system that was free and open source, that also adhered to international metadata standards, while also offering organizations the opportunity to build an appealing front-end design that didn’t replicate the look of a database.

We found that we kept building the same type of relational database backend over and over, and decided to generalize it into what is now Omeka.

One of the most important guiding principles, that we are discussing today, is for the data to be portable and accessible in multiple ways.

Data that goes into Omeka, comes out: from the very simple, such as RSS, to more complex formats, including the newest addition, our data API.

Data sharing has always been a core requirement that shapes Omeka’s current development, as the project continues to grow and change.

To increase accessibility of the data, we added an API in Omeka 2.0:

With the API turned on, a user may import all public items and collections, including their files, to be used for other applications

With an API, it’s much easier to push and share content from an Omeka site with other software and applications.

For example, this in-gallery installation at the University of Connecticut Archives is a prototype of the Omeka Everywhere project, an IMLS-funded collaboration with Ideum and the UConn Digital Media and Design Lab. Collections are added into an Omeka site, the Omeka API talks with the API of the Open Exhibits software loaded on a touch table that can publish collections to touch tables for browsing and exploring. This creates continuity between the online and in-gallery experience.

Controlled Vocabularies: The Omeka team has worked to enhance the ease and standardization of metadata input, and over the years, through developing plugins that assist with metadata entry by offering controlled vocabularies, such as the Library of Congress Suggest for LC subject headings and then for all of the LCs authority files.

Our friends at UC Santa Cruz, through their work in the Grateful Dead Archive Online, greatly increased Omeka’s offerings in this area, beyond Library of Congress suggest, to include Getty Research Institute vocabularies to aid in the standardization of metadata entry across individual sites. This standardization, aides greatly when looking outside of one institutions and towards aggregating collections.

We are always grateful for this type of development from the broader Omeka developer community.

With all of this development occurring for Omeka Classic, we are simultaneously building the next generation software package, Omeka S.

Omeka S, which is a new software package designed with medium and larger libraries, archives, and museums in mind.

An outgrowth of lessons learned and feedback from some of Omeka institutional users, Omeka S shares many of the same goals as Omeka Classic (2.x), but none of its code.

Many features of Omeka S will be appealing both to cultural heritage institutions and academic and research libraries, including:

  • the ability to administer many sites from a single installation;
  • a fully functioning Read/Write REST API, which the system uses to execute most of its own core operations;
  • the use of JSON-LD as the native data format, which enmeshes the materials in the LOD universe;
  • Native RDF vocabularies that maximize data interoperability, by including Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) Terms; DCMI Type;The Bibliographic Ontology(Bibo); and The Friend of A Friend Vocabulary(FOAF).
  • and a set of modules that will aid integration with digital repositories, such as Fedora and DSpace, as well as with one of CHNM’s other major software project’s, Zotero.
  • Every Omeka S Resource (item, item set, media) has a URI–unique resource identifier, and will have the ability to embed URIs to connect to existing resources, such as those in DBpedia.

CHNM’s newest NLG grant increases the integration of Linked Open Data authority files in metadata description for digital collections:

  • We are building LOD vocabulary modules that will help users create descriptions that capitalize on Linked Open Data through the use of controlled authority files from the Library of Congress and the Getty Research Institute. The use of these standardized description values will increase the discoverability of the digital collections by linking them to the growing semantic web.
  • We are also including pathways for institutions to implement their own locally-controlled authorities that allow GLAMs to standardize their descriptions, and contribute to the development of new authorities that might eventually become standards in the field.

To increase the likelihood that newly created metadata for digital collections in Omeka-S can be smoothly transferred to key aggregators within the national digital platform, we are building a resource template that will make Omeka-S data DPLA- ready.

We will offer a basic resource description template based on requirements for the DPLA MAP v.4.0 and the Europeana Data Model, which we hope will help cultural heritage organizations more easily aggregate their data, without requiring messy crosswalks or major data transformations.

Please try Omeka-S!

We are still in the alpha development process, but we are making our newest builds available on GitHub after every 2 sprints, roughly every 4 weeks. This is not something that is quite ready for launching at scale, but we do seek feedback, particularly from our colleagues working in larger libraries and archive.

You may follow our progress, on our blog, in GitHub, or on Twitter (@omeka).

Thank you for your time, and thank you to IMLS for supporting Omeka’s new directions and its place in the national digital platform.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. January 12, 2016

    Thanks for posting your notes!

    Is the Fedora Connector for Omeka-S limited to single item imports, or does/will it support batch imports?

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