Skip to Main Content
Research Guides

Omeka: Adding Items

Omeka is a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions.

Things to think about before adding items

  • How will you structure your site? Will you have several collections as part of your site? If so, how will you define what materials go into each collection? Will you use the exhibits feature? It can be helpful to think of your intended audience and map out your Omeka site prior to adding materials into Omeka.

  • How will you describe the materials on your site? Omeka uses the Dublin Core metadata schema, and Omeka Classic documentation provides an introduction to the 15 Dublin Core elements available for use. Before you start your project, you’ll want to think through how to describe your materials in a consistent way--this is particularly important for work with multiple collaborators. UW Metadata Librarians have put together an Omeka Metadata: Getting Started Guide for this purpose, and are available for consultation regarding Omeka metadata work.
  • What are the rights associated with your content? If you created your content and have not licensed or transferred your rights to it, you are the copyright owner. If, however, you wish to upload content for which you do not own the copyright, you face decisions about how to proceed.
    • The easiest path is to use content with a Creative Commons (CC) license that allows your use. Here is information about what CC licenses do and where to find content with CC licenses as well as content in the public domain.
    • You can also consider whether your use might be a fair use. Fair use is a flexible concept and requires comfort with uncertainty, since the only people who truly decide whether a use is fair are judges resolving lawsuits. Fair use evaluations examine four factors: purpose of your use, nature of the work used, amount and substantiality of the portion used, and the effect on the market of the original work. These tools can help you to analyze the factors in relation to your use but they do not offer legal advice.
    • Fair use checklist
    • Fair use evaluator 
    • You could request permission to use the work in your Omeka project. Research the copyright owner, describe how the work will be used, and keep records of your correspondence. Here are more suggestions and examples
    • If you still have concerns, feel free to contact the UW Libraries Scholarly Communications and Publishing Department at
  • What types of files will you use? According to the Omeka Classic Manual, nearly any type of file can be added to an Omeka site. Since your UW-hosted Omeka site only allows for 1GB of storage, you may want to convert larger files to a smaller file format (think converting a .tiff file to a .jpg or a .wav file to an .mp3) to save yourself some space. For longevity of your files, consider using non-proprietary file formats. Recommendations on such file formats are available on the UW Libraries List of Preferred File Formats

  • How will you organize your files? Having a plan for project organization will prevent frustration and mistakes during your project. For example, establish a file naming convention and folder structure for your project from the outset. A naming convention will help ensure the right files are used for the right parts of your project. A folder structure will help you store and retrieve the right files for the duration of your project. 

  • Where will you store backup versions of your files? Ideally, you’ll keep a copies of your unedited and edited files (with associated metadata) stored in three different locations, with one being in a separate geographic region -- for example, your laptop/computer, an external hard drive, and one of the online storage options provided by UW. This ensures that should something happen to your project, you can recreate the project from one of the backups.

Metadata Considerations

The metadata values you enter in your Omeka Classic site will play an essential role on the site. Detailed and accurate metadata values provide valuable context for users, making resources more findable, meaningful, and useful for them. Good metadata will also make it easier for you to manage the site as an administrator.

The Omeka Classic User Manual and the UW Libraries’ Omeka Classic Metadata: Getting Started both provide detailed information about creating metadata for these sites. The following points may be helpful to remember as you, your team, or your students set out to create a site or sites in Omeka Classic.

Plan Ahead

Time spent beforehand thinking about how you want to describe items will help you to create quality metadata. And of course, the same goes for collections and exhibits, once you start creating and describing those.

  • What kinds of metadata should be required for every item on the site? For example, you may wish to include not only a title for each item, but also a subject and/or description.

  • Are the Item Types that Omeka Classic provides by default sufficient for your project, or do you wish to create new types, with custom Item Type metadata fields, to better describe your collection?

The Omeka Classic metadata application profile worksheet can be copied and then used to collaborate on, record, and share a plan for metadata in your site.

Aim for Consistency

Inconsistent metadata values can be frustrating for users, and leave them unsure as to whether the resource they’ve found is really what they are looking for. Agreeing on and sharing notes, input instructions, and/or input examples with everyone who will create metadata for your site can help avoid this.

  • How should the metadata be formatted? For example, if you are providing date values for your items, decide beforehand how these should be entered (“YYYY”? “YYYY-MM-DD”?). The same goes for many other fields (“Benjamin Riesenberg”? “Riesenberg, Benjamin”?)

  • Ensure that the same field is always used to record the same information. For example, should description values for photographs provide information about how photos were taken, or about the people and things depicted in photos?

  • What should be done when information is missing? For example, when date values are provided for photos, but aren’t available in some cases, a value such as “unknown” is most likely better for users than a lack of any date value at all.

Contact Benjamin Riesenberg, Metadata Librarian, with additional questions about planning and creating metadata for your Omeka Classic site.

Adding Items

  1. To begin, you’ll need to set up your “Image Magick directory path”. To do this, go to the “Settings” link in the upper right portion of the screen. You’ll find the “Image Magick Directory Path” at the very bottom of the screen. Type /usr/bin/ in the box and click the Save Changes button. Note: if you miss this step, your images may not display on the public site. Screenshot of ImageMagick setup

  2. From the side menu, select “Items,” then click the green button to “Add an item” Screenshot of Add Item button

  3. First, you’ll add the Dublin Core metadata describing your item. Be sure to select the Collection you would like add your item to from the “Collection” drop down on the right side of the screen under the “Add Item” button.

    1. Click the “Add Input” button if you would like a second field under that particular heading. For example, if you’re working with French materials, you may want a title in French and a title translated into EnglishMetadata page screenshot

  4. Next, click the “Item Type Metadata” link under the “Add an Item” heading at the top of the screen. Use the drop down menu to navigate to the item type that best matches your itemItem Type Metadata screen
  5. A new screen of metadata options related to your item type will appear. Provide as much information as you can. Item Type Metadata detail screen
  6. Next, click the “Files” link under the Add an Item heading at the top of the page. Upload your item type file. Keep in mind that your file must be under 150 MB to be loaded into Omeka. File upload screen
  7. If you would like to add tags to your items, you may do so by clicking the “Tags” link under the Add an Item heading at the top of the page. Adding tags is not required and you may skip this step if you would like. 

  8. Once you are finished adding Dublin Core and Item Type Metadata and selecting the Collection to which you’ll add your item, you may decide if you want your item to be “public” or “featured” and click the “Add Item” button.

    1. Public: By default, all items added to Omeka are hidden from public view on your Omeka site. You may change this by checking the box next to “Public” under the Add Item button.

    2. Featured: You can choose an item to display prominently on your Omeka project homepage by checking the box next to “Featured” under the Add Item button. See the Georgetown Slavery Archive for an example of a “featured item”. Public or featured option screenshot

  9. Once you have added your item, you’ll receive confirmation that your item has been added. If you checked the box to have your item be a “featured” item, you will see a star on the item title. Confirmation of file added screen


Congratulations! You just added an item to your Omeka site! For more help adding or editing items, check our the UW Omeka User Guide.