Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
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Omeka Directions: Adding Items to Omeka



Scanning Considerations

When scanning documents or images, there are a few things to keep in mind.  A TIFF is the highest quality image and is used for preservation purposes.  You may want your images scanned as a TIFF if you consider the digital image to be your permanent archival copy. Because it is of a high quality, it takes up a lot of storage space and takes a long time to load.  From a tiff you can create a jpeg which takes up a lot less room and is better suited  for  public display in all kinds of collections. A jpeg is usually scanned at a 300 - 600 dpi.  A written document can be scanned at 300 or even lower.  The Iowa Heritage Digital Collections accept jpegs and pdfs, but not TIFF files.

File Names

Before you add documents, images,  or other item types to a collection, you need to have them scanned to a location where you can easily find them. Each item should be assigned a file name, preferably one that helps you identify what the item is.

File names can contain numbers, letters, hyphens and underscores, but not other characters. There should be no spaces in between them. Periods should be used only for file name extensions like .jpg or .pdf. For further information on file names, watch:


Getting Started 

When you log into Omeka, you will be taken to the “Dashboard or “Getting Started with Omeka” page. From this page, you can add items to your collections and exhibits as well as browse items for editing or deleting that are already in your collections. 

To see this page go to:http://omeka.iowaheritage/admin

The  black tabs across the top of the page that you will be using are items, collections, item types, tags and exhibits.  


Creating a Collection

A collection is set up first and then items are added to the particular collections that you establish. Decide on a collection name with the assistance of IHDC staff and they will set it up for you. Then you can add items to the collection as well as edit them later on. After a collection has been set up, items can be added to a collection and later edited or deleted. For more information, go to:

The collections tab takes you to the list of all the collections in the Iowa Heritage Digital Project. For an alphabetical list click ont the word "title". It will give you the list in alphabetical order. On this page, you can click on the name of the collection or on the number of items in the collection. This number will be on the right. If you click on the name of the collection, you will be taken to a page that describes the collection. On this page, you can also click on the number of items at the bottom or click on one of the most recently added items. If you click on the number of items in the collection, you will be taken to the list of items in that collection. You can click on each item for details about that item. If these are from your collection, there will also be an "edit" and "delete" tab next to the "details" tab  

Background Information for Adding Items to a Collection

Every item added to a collection is assigned an item type and metadata terms similar to the field names on a catalog card.The metadata terms are assigned according to the type of item.  The types of items include: document, moving image, oral history, sound, still image, website, event, email, lesson plan, hyperlink, person, interactive resource, remote item, contact information, location, and transcription. In most cases, you will choose "document" for written materials and "still image" for photographs or objects


Dublin Core Terms

There is a basic set of fifteen terms known as the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set for use in resource description. The name "Dublin" is due to its origin at a 1995 invitational workshop in Dublin, Ohio; "core" because its elements are broad and generic, usable for describing a wide range of resources. For more information, go to: or

  The fifteen basic terms are: title, subject, description, creator, source, publisher, date, contributor, rights, relation, format, language, type, identifier and coverage. Some or all of these can be used. These basic metadata terms can be used with all of the item types.In addition, there are additional metadata terms or elements that can be used to supplement these fifteen depending on the item type that you have.  Additional terms include the following: original format, physical dimensions, file name, repository, repository collection, executive orders, digital reproduction information, contact information, digital item created, digital item modified, notes, and transcription. Metadata terms must fit into one of these categories.

The following fields should be filled in whenever possible - title, subject, description, creator (author), date, and copyright information. It is also helpful to fill in the contact information for your institution so that users can contact you directly with questions. Fields that are not filled in will not appear on the public site.

 Searchable keywords can also be added in the "tag" field which is found under Add an Item.  Words added in the metadata fields can be searched in the "Search" box "Browse Items" page.


Item Types

Click on the black "item type" tab across the top of the page. You will see a list of sixteen item type names that have been assigned by Omeka. You can see what metadata terms are used for each of these types by  clicking on each item type.  Each item type has a set of metadata terms or "elements" assigned to it. For example, the first one is "Document". Click on the edit button on the right. You will be taken to the "Document" page where you will see the metadata terms that are assigned to it. NOTE: If you do not use all of there terms and they are left blank, that is OK because they will not appear to the public. For more information, go to:


Adding an Item (document, image, etc.) 

The easiest and most common way to add items to a collection is to add them one at a time. Click on the first black tab “items”. A page that says “Browse Items” will appear. Here you will see the list of items from all collections that that are in IHDC. These items are in order, most recent first. They are not listed by collection here. Go to the "Collections" tab to find items by collection. You will be allowed to edit only those items that you add to your own collection.  An item can be assigned to only one collection at a time. Items can be added and deleted from this page. They can also be” featured” and made public. You can also search for items on this page using the “search” box or clicking on “advanced search” . 

 Click on the “add an item” button on the right. You are taken to the page where you will add metadata for your item as well as choose the appropriate collection that the item belongs in. You can also add keyword search terms under "tags" as well as browse to the appropriate directories to add photos, documents, etc.

On the "add an item" page you will find five links on the left hand side including Dublin Core,  Item type metadata, Collection, Files, and Tags.  You need to fill in the information for each of these sections one at a time by clicking on them.  Tags are optional. The  "Dublin Core"  page contains  the 15 basic elements or metadata terms that can be assigned to collections. On this page, you can fill in the appropriate information for your item.

For example, under "title", type the title of your image or document. Omeka sorts items first by number, then by title name, alphabetically. If you don't have a numerical order of some kind, everything will be alphabetically listed.  If you have some item titles that start with a number and others that start with a word,  the numbered titles will be listed first. Items in the title field are numbered  numerically and then alphabetically by the title you give them. So, it is a good idea to assign a number to each of the title items in your collection in the order that you want them to appear.

Omeka looks at the first digit of every number and puts items in order that way.  For example, if you have 12 items and you number them 1-12, the following order will occur:


That's because Omeka looks for the lowest number in every number combination. To get around that, you can use:  01,02,03,04,05,06,07,08,09,10,11,12.  This will work for up to 99 items.

If you have 100 or more, you can start with 001,002 etc.

You can also number items by date.  Go the the "Iowa Goverors" Collection or "State Librarians of Iowa" to see an example of this. Note the order is in chronological order by the dates these people held their jobs, from the earliest to the most recent. 


  For a collection with up to 99 different documents, you can assign numbers at the beginning of the title. (If your collection consists of 100-999 items, use 3 numbers.)  Example below:

 001  Photo of Joan

 002  Letter to Mary

Under creator, type the author. (Note that names are listed as last name, comma, first name). Date entries should be entered this way:  1997 or 1997-03 for March 1997 or 1997-03-01 for March 1, 1997. 1997? could be used for an estimated date. For further information see the data dictionaries under Digitization Resources.  Under subject, list the subjects you have chosen. If you select the "add input" button that is available under each term, additional boxes will appear where you can add more data, but you can keep everything in the same box by separating entries with semi-colons. It takes up less room that way. When you are finished with this page, click on "save changes" If you don't your work will not be saved.  When you add an item or save a page, you will NOT be taken back to where you left off. You will need to click on "edit item" again to go back and resume where you left off.

If you need to know appropriate subject headings for your item, you can check out the Library of Congress subject headings for suggestions:


Click on the item type metadata link. You will be asked to select an item type. Click on the down arrow and you will see a list of item types. Highlight the appropriate one for what you are working on. ( Most of your items will probably be documents (written materials) or images (photographs, objects,  etc) You will be taken to the item type metadata  page that you chose. Here you will fill in the appopriate information like you did on the Dublin Core page. Click on the "add item" button. 

The Collection file allows you to assign that item to the collection that has been set up for it.  There is a dropdown box of collections that have been set up. Click on the name of the collection that you have set up.

The Files tab is for linking to the directory name so that an image or document file appears.  An item that contains multiple files such as a monograph or multi-page letter can be loaded either as one document by adding pages to the item or each page can be imported as a separate document. In addition, if you have access to Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can link multiple pages into one pdf document first before you add the item to IHDC.  Adobe Acrobat will also perform optical character recognition (OCR) on scanned images of typewritten or printed text so that  a document can be copied and pasted into a transcript. JPEGs can also be converted to PDF's using Adobe Acrobat Pro. 

 The tag file is for adding key words that can be searched and is optional. Tag keywords should be separated by a comma.

When you are finished adding an item or items to a collection, contact Pam Rees at the State Library, so that she can make the items "public", so that everyone can see them


Editing and Deleting Items in a Collection


After you have added items to a collection, you may find that you need to edit or delete an item. Click on the black tab "items". This will take you to all the items in all the collections that you have. There is a details, edit and delete link under each item. When you click on the edit link, you are taken to that particular item page when you can edit the information for that item or delete the entire item. Be sure to  click on "Save Changes" wheb you are finished editing or deleting items.  If you have multiple collections, it will be easier to find a particular item if you search for it in the search box under Items or find the collection under Collections and click on the number of items for that collection. The reason for this is that all the items are in one list without regard to collection.


Other Options For Adding Collections: Ask about  importing a collection from a spreadsheet. It is also possible to import collections into IHDC from a ContentDM collection or another Omeka collection using an Open Archive Initiative code.


For additional comments and questions, contact:

Tom Keyser, Certified Archivist  
State Library of Iowa 
1112 E. Grand Avenue  |  Des Moines, IA 50319
515.242.6542 or