Learning Omeka

As a last-minute decision, I decided to go home for a week for Canadian Thanksgiving. I got a lot of weird looks when I said I was home on Thanksgiving break–in October. Though I was going home to enjoy my family and friends, I did make myself a To Do list before I left. But let’s just say that I didn’t finish it.

However, my week off wasn’t a total bust. I was talking with my mom, who also happens to be the librarian in my hometown, about the end of this semester and my upcoming independent project. I was telling her about the different options I could do and that I wanted to produce something that was going to be useful once I was finished with it. I had looked into Omeka a little bit and was interested in playing around with the site, so I asked her if we could do something that could mutually benefit each other. She had always wanted to start a historical component to the library and had the donations to do it, but never the time or resources. I had looked at what she had collected from locals and noticed quite a few postcards.

This was it. I could start an archival website, using Omeka, with a collection of postcards. This way, more items or collections could be added as time permitted or as more donations were given.

So I scanned in all of the postcards as TIFFs at 600 DPI. Thanks for the tip, Tim. I noticed that not all of the postcards were marked with their creators which was a little disappointing because I knew that might be an issue. However, I found out later that I should have measured the originals, but I found out too late as I was already back in Canada. *Exasperated eyeroll*

Then I really looked into Omeka and signed up for a free trial. The building-end of the site was really easy to maneuver. I was able to pick my URL and my site name and with an “abracadabra,” my site was made. By coincidence, I had decided to create a collection first: Cashton Postcards. It was here that I became unsure. There was information that I didn’t have like the postcard creators, publishers, etc. Was this going to be a major issue? I skipped over the information that I didn’t have and decided to add an individual item into the collection. I ran into the same problem here. Not all the postcards had the information I needed, I didn’t know who donated each individual postcard, and like I said earlier, I hadn’t measured the original postcards.

I think this will end up being an interesting project for me as I get to learn more about online catalogs, digitizing a variety of media, and metadata. I’ve already made some mistakes, and I’m sure there will be more, but hey, the grade isn’t everything, is it?

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2 thoughts on “Learning Omeka

  1. Okay so this sounds like a really cool project Katrina! I’m contemplating using Omeka for my independent as well but came across the same issues as you did. I’m interested to see how you get around them in your final product 🙂
    Just a thought: from my experience in online collections, it’s great that you remembered to scan the postcards as 600dpi TIFFs for preservation purposes, but I’ve found that putting a large dpi photo on the web can really slow down the loading of the site. Often, I know museums and archives will keep 600dpi scans for reproduction and research purposes and use a 100dpi-300dpi jpg copy of the scan for web content.

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  2. This is a great idea Katrina! I love the idea of making something that will be useful. I set up an online catalog for a museum this summer, Omeka was one of the platforms we looked at but we ended up going another route. Mistakes are just an inevitable part of the process! From what we have already talked about this term, there are several things I wish I could go back and do differently. In any case, I’m interested in getting to know Omeka better, and I look forward to seeing what you create with the postcard collection!

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