Metadata is “structured information that describes, explains, locates, or otherwise makes it easier to retrieve, use, or manage an information resource”. 


Omeka uses the Dublin Core Metadata standard to describe resources. It is widely adopted and offers users flexibility.

There are 15 main descriptive elements that are used by Omeka. 

The three most significant metadata elements in enhancing the discovery of digital repository items through Internet search engines are Title, Description, and Subject (Yang, 2015). When implementing metadata with digital items, you should pay specific attention to these three metadata elements if one of your aims is to attract more traffic from Internet search engines. 

The Elements

  • Title: A name given to the resource. Examples: title of a painting, photo, document; the name of a person when using the "person" item type; the name of a lesson plan.

  • Subject: The topic of the resource. Typically, the topic will be represented using keywords, key phrases, or classification codes. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary. To describe the spatial or temporal topic of the resource, use the Coverage element. Examples: Library of Congress subject headings; subject-specific nomenclature.

  • Description: An account of the resource. Description may include but is not limited to: an abstract, a table of contents, a graphical representation, or a free-text account of the resource. Examples: a photo caption; descriptive information of an artifact/museum object; summary of a lesson plan; abstract or summary of a long document.

  • Creator: An entity primarily responsible for making the resource. Examples: Author/authors; artists; photographers; institutional authors or producers, such as university or federal agency.

  • Source: The resource from which the described resource is derived. The described resource may be derived from the related resource in whole or in part. Recommended best practice is to identify the related resource by means of a string conforming to a formal identification system. Examples: Accession number; Collection of objects; Division of an archive or library. 

  • Publisher: An entity responsible for making the resource available. Examples: actual publisher, if there is one; entity or consortium publishing digital materials.

  • Date: A point or period of time associated with an event in the lifecycle of the resource. Date may be used to express temporal information at any level of granularity. Date is one of the trickiest fields to fill. You will want to decide how best to use it for your project for consistency. There is an open text field for date so that you can reflect the type of date information you have whether it is a very specific date MM/DD/YYYY or if it is "circa 1940". More information... 

  • Contributor: An entity responsible for making contributions to the resource. Examples: person who contributed a story or file for an Omeka collecting project; owner or donor of collected objects; 

  • Rights: Information about rights held in and over the resource. Typically, rights information includes a statement about various property rights associated with the resource, including intellectual property rights. Examples: spell out conditions of use for specific items here; Creative Commons type; Public Domain. 

  • Relation: A related resource. Recommended best practice is to identify the related resource by means of a string conforming to a formal identification system. Examples: a still image of a person entered as a "person" type.

  • Format: The file format, physical medium, or dimensions of a resource. Examples include size and duration. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as the Internet Media Types (MIME). 

  • Language: A language of the resource. Examples: English; Russian; Spanish, et al.

  • Type: The nature or genre of the resource. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as the DCMI Type Vocabulary [DCMITYPE]. To describe the file format, physical medium, or dimensions of the resource, use the Format element. Examples: For consistency, use item type controlled vocabulary provided by Omeka: Document, Moving Image, Oral History, Sound, Still Image, Website, Event, Email, Lesson Plan, Hyperlink, Person, or Interactive Resource.

  • Identifier: An unambiguous reference to the resource within a given context. Recommended best practice is to identify the resource by means of a string conforming to a formal identification system.

  • Coverage: The spatial or temporal topic of the resource, the spatial applicability of the resource, or the jurisdiction under which the resource is relevant. Spatial topic and spatial applicability may be a named place or a location specified by its geographic coordinates. Temporal topic may be a named period, date, or date range. A jurisdiction may be a named administrative entity or a geographic place to which the resource applies. Recommended best practice is to use a controlled vocabulary such as the Thesaurus of Geographic Names [TGN]. Where appropriate, named places or time periods can be used in preference to numeric identifiers such as sets of coordinates or date ranges.

Omeka has the ability to use a number of different item types. Each item type will use the base 15 metadata elements, as well as some additional elements that are relevant to each item type. More information about item types and additional metadata elements is available on the Omeka website. 


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