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Omeka Metadata Guide

Created by Daniel Fandino
Maintained by LEADR under the direction of Alice Lynn McMichael

Last Updated: 10/1/2021


In this handout, you will learn about the Dublin Core metadata scheme. Metadata is data about a data -in this case it is information about the digital items used in Omeka. This will help visitors to your Omeka exhibit understand the origins of the Items used as the centerpieces of your exhibit by allowing you to properly document and categorize your digital content. This will enable others to follow your research as well as acknowledging the ownership and origins of the items.

What is Metadata in Omeka?

In Omeka, Items are the digital representations of resources used on the platform. Each historical artifact you use (such as a letter, photograph, painting, or newspaper article) should be an Item in your exhibit. You will provide information about these resources in Omeka using the Dublin Core metadata scheme. Dublin Core is a set series of 16 categories that allows for consistent information about items to be carried across a variety of platforms and uses.

Items are usually(but not always) digital representations of physical Items. The item can be used to represent either an image itself or something depicted by the item. For example, a painting of George Washington can be used as a digital item to represent the painting itself or to represent George Washington as the historical figure.

It is important to note that you are not always expected to be able to complete every entry for metadata. The importance of Omeka metadata is to properly cite where you obtained your research sources and develop an understanding of how items and data are referenced in digital archives. The goal is to fill out the information to the best of your ability.

Explanation of Dublin Core Elements

Here we provide a brief explanation of the Elements used in Dublin Core. We heavily encourage you to visit the Dublin Core website if you want a more detailed explanation of their metadata scheme.

Title: A name the Item is known by. This can be the title of a book, the title of a work of art, the make and model of a vehicle, photograph name, or building name.

Subject: Short one or two word keyword description of the Item. Multiple keywords can be used.

Description: A one or two line description of the Item.

Creator: The names of the persons and/or group responsible for creating the Item.

Source: The source where the Item was obtained from. Note that this can represent where the digital item is sourced from, not where the physical item is located or where it was sold.

Publisher: The group or company responsible for making the Item public or available. This includes manufacturers, government agencies, and corporations.

Date: A date associated with this Item. It can be the date of publication, the range when a video game console was in production, or the day a photo was taken. If the exact date is not known a year or general range can be used.

Rights: The legal rights involved in using this Item. This is important as using Items under copyright need to be noted. There are some protections under the principle of Fair Use for the educational use of copyrighted images but it is vital to mark the known copyright holders, or if the Item can be freely used. In Fair Use, copyrighted material in the US can be reused for certain purposes without needing to get special permission from the rights holder.

Relation: If the Item is part of a set or related directly to other Items, such as by being part of a book series, tracks on an album, photos in a set taken the same day or as part of a series, or a video game in a series.

Format: The physical dimensions if the Item is an object. This can also be the format of a photo or computer file.

Language: The primary language of the Item. This can also be the language of the creator in case of a work of art or the language of the nation of manufacture.

Type: What is the primary type of the Item? Text as in a book, text and images as in a magazine, a piece of computer software, or a sound recording.

Identifier: A unique way to identify this Item. This can be a library call number, a ISBN book code, a serial number, or a model number.

Coverage: The geographic region and/or time period covered by the Item. If it is a physical object, this can be where it is located. If it is a printed Item, where it was printed, where it was intended to be sold. Coverage can be the location depicted in a photograph or painting. It can also be the region specific to where a car, video game console, or DVD player is sold. This may also be the time period the item was made/used in, or a time period associated with the Item.


Photograph of the cover of Vision and the Scarlet Witch 1 used for educational purposes. The item used in this example is the physical comic book depicted in the image.

Title: Vision and the Scarlet Witch 1

Subject: American comics, Superheroes

Description: Comic book adventures of the superheroes Vision and Scarlet Witch.

Creator: Steve Englehart (writer) and Richard Howell (artist).

Publisher: Marvel Comics


Date: October 1, 1985

Rights: Copyright Marvel Worldwide Inc.

Relation: Part of a twelve issue limited series. Vision and the Scarlet Witch issues 2-12, 1985.

Format: Print, 32 pages. 6-5/8 inches wide by 10-1/4 inches.

Language: English

Type: Image and text.

Identifier: none available.

Coverage: United States


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