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What is Metadata?

Metadata is descriptive information about digital objects such as images, audio recordings, videos, etc. Metadata answers questions such as What is this? Who created it? and When was it made? Metadata is structured in specific ways.

Metadata serves two important functions:

  • Gives context and meaning to digital objects
  • Makes it possible to find digital objects with online text searches

Metadata is structured into "Fields" and "Values."

  • A "field" is a label for a certain type of information, like "Title" or "Creator."
  • A "value" is the information about the digital object that is attached to the field. A value in the Title field for a photo taken on campus might be "Crows Flying over the Wetlands," for example.
Omeka Metadata Worksheet

Track your Items, links, and metadata with our Omeka Metadata Worksheet (google sheets). Make a copy of this worksheet to use for your own file and metadata tracking.

What is Dublin Core metadata?

Dublin Core is a structured metadata standard with defined fields and field values. This standard helps to improve metadata consistency across collections and projects.

Omeka uses the Dublin Core metadata standard. When you see "Dublin Core" in Omeka, this means metadata.

Dublin Core Item Metadata

Metadata is required for all Items in Omeka. Some metadata fields are essential for describing and crediting Items, while other metadata fields are optional. Focus on the below "Essential metadata fields" when adding metadata to your Omeka Items.

If you are adding an item from another archive or collection, copy the metadata exactly as it appears in the original archive or collection.

If you are adding a new or unique item, add as much description as you can. A new or unique item would be something that you created or an artifact that you're contributing to an archive or online collection for the first time.

Essential Dublin Core metadata fields

A brief description of your Item. Examples would include a caption under a photo or a painting title.

A person or organization who created the Item. Examples would include a photographer, a community organization who created a flyer, or an artist.

The date the Item was created. Be as specific as possible. Examples would be a specific date, a year, or a date range.

A broad one or two-word phrase that captures the main subject of the item. Examples would be "Crows," "UW Bothell Wetlands," "Sunset"

A longer description of the Item, possibly several sentences. The Description describes the Item in more detail and provides more context than the Title.

The Source field is required for any Item you're adding from another archive or collection. Always include the archive, collection, and institution names. Always include the URL link to the specific artifact.

Copyright or Creative Commons information about the artifact. For items from other archives or collections, carefully scan the website and item page to find copyright and Creative Commons information. Record that information exactly. 

Item Type Metadata

Item Type Metadata is optional unless you're working with one of the following circumstances:

  • Embedding a video or sound file from another website or streaming service such as YouTube, Vimeo, or SoundCloud.
  • A specialized project with more extensive metadata needs, such as an oral history, GIS, or archiving project



Embedding is linking to an external file in a way that it will be playable or viewable in Omeka without uploading it into the Omeka site. Embedding is an alternative to downloading the file from the original site and uploading it to Omeka. Omeka uses Item Type Metadata to embed content. 

Follow these steps to embed an Item:

  1. In the "Item Type" field dropdown menu, select "Moving Image."
  2. In the "Player" field, copy the html embed code from the original source. 

    Omeka screenshot: Add an Item, Item Type Metadata
  3. Check the "Use HTML" box and you should see your embedded content.

Omeka screenshot: Add an Item, Item Type Metadata with "Use HTML" box checked


Specialized projects

Your faculty will let you know if you need to add Item Type Metadata for a specialized project. If not, you can ignore this tab when entering metadata.