Omeka & Bibliographic Research

Posted on July 5, 2013 by

My project, Documenting Carreño, is built in an open-source web-publishing platform called Omeka. If you’re wondering why I decided to choose Omeka rather than the many other platforms available to me, you can check out a presentation I gave in May 2013 about using Omeka and geo-spatial tools (with overviews of a few other options). Essentially, Omeka is a multimodal system for content management, collections management, and archival digital collections; it is also flexible and user-friendly. If you’re interested in tutorials that range from installing to creating content within Omeka, there are some great ones already out there (so I won’t recreate the wheel). Miriam Posner’s posts and handy pdf will get you started using Omeka.net, or you can view screencasts on Omeka.org (for version 1.0+). There is also a more advanced tutorial from the Scholars’ Lab on installing Omeka using Amazon Web Services. There are two options for those interested in creating a project in Omeka, you can sign up for Omeka.net, which is a hosted service that comes pre-installed with several plugins or you can install and implement the full system from Omeka.org on a server or hosted service (i.e. Dreamhost). Here’s a comparison list of Omeka.net vs. Omeka.org. I chose to use the self-hosted version from Omeka.org because it allows me to customize the site as I wish, as well as implement any of the plugins created for Omeka.

The goal of this project is to document Teresa Carreño’s career between 1862 – 1917 by providing access to annotated primary source materials (i.e. ads, announcements, reviews, concert programs) that I have discovered and examined. Access to criticism and reception of her performances, as well as other primary source documents, will be provided in original format when available or through transcription. In order for this project to be manageable, I began developing content with a focus on the first half of her career (1862 – 1866) when the majority of her tours occurred within the United States. Moreover, I chose to focus on these years, because there is an abundance of archival and primary sources in libraries and archives related to her performances during this time. I hope that through continuous research and development, content related to the entirety of her career will exist on this site.

Currently, I have organized the content within Omeka so that each of Carreño’s performances appears as an individual “Item,” but is also part of a larger collection (i.e. Newspaper & Journal Literature) under the category of “Primary Sources.” While items can be browsed individually or through a tag cloud, the collection is arranged chronologically. Each item represents a performance or important event and is annotated using Dublin Core metadata elements. I have modified which DC elements are visible (to the public) based on my own needs, so currently I am using the following fields:

  • Title (performance/venue name, date)
  • Subject (keyword/topic)
  • Description 
  • Source (citation(s) of primary source material, such as advertisement or review)
  • Contributor (author of the item)

In order to provide transcriptions of primary source material, I am using the Scripto plugin, which allows me to display transcriptions within each item record and eventually this will allow collaborators to transcribe documents that can be imported into my Omeka site. I am also including files (i.e. pdf, jpg) of primary source documents when they are available under public domain or CC license. Another feature that I am using is tagging, which allows me to categorize and link content for easier searching and access within the site. You can view tag clouds in the “Browse” section or within each item record. Citations for each item are generated automatically within the item record, as is the license restriction (CC-BY-NC).

Each item will have a brief description of the performance or event. Key details about the venue and management, type of event, performance time and ticket prices, performers, and full list of repertoire performed will be included in descriptions, but this will be dependent on how much information is available. Some of her performances are much better documented than others, so this will be a work in progress. Primary source materials which were used to verify performance details will be identified under “Source,” and a simple subject heading/keyword will be provided for consistency of metadata and better searchability. My goal is to transcribe at least one primary source per item, but most items have several transcriptions related to that event, and these will appear in the “Transcription” section, which is highlighted in grey. Eventually, I hope to engage with other librarians, scholars or public historians (etc) who would be interested in collaborating and contributing either information about primary sources or transcriptions.

Here is an example of an item record from my project. There are several entries under “Primary Sources” that can be viewed and I will be adding more on a regular basis, as this project is a work in progress.

The entire project is secured under a CC-BY-NC license, which is a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license that allows others to reuse or build upon my work for non-commercial purposes only. If someone chooses to use the content that I have created in my project, they must acknowledge me and my project, just as they would if they were citing or using text from a print book under copyright.

I welcome feedback and suggestions while I work on this project. If you are interested in collaborating or know someone who is, please let them know about this project or contact me: Anna Kijas at uconn.edu.

 

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