Media vs. New Items in Omeka S

When I’v searched in the forum, I seem to find a lot of really complex answers to this question that makes me think I’m just completely missing something and this is a dumb question. I’ll ask anyway and thank you for your help and patience.

Why should we add an item record vs. a media record? I’ll give an example.

We get a donation of 3 items. We currently create 1 item record for the entire collection and then 3 item records for each item that was donated. We will do 1 of 2 things with each item: take a photo of it and attach it to the record, or scan it in and if it is textual, OCR it for full text searching. These digital files are then stored as media to each item record. Since media records have their own set of metadata and we are only filling out the item metadata to reflect the physical artifacts (we usually do not write any of the media metadata leaving it blank), could we not just attach each item as media instead to the single item record for the entire collection? I am suggesting writing the item metadata to the media uploads instead of creating a separate item record.

Just curious as to what others do in regards to this and what is considered best practice within Omeka S for long term use. Thank you again!

The question is really just down to: how do you want to go through your collections, and how do want users to browse them? The system is set up to give you flexibility so there’s lots of ways to do things that will all work.

I’m not 100% clear on what you’re describing here, though: in particular when you say you create 3 records for each item. Do you mean 1 Omeka S item for every donated item, leading to a total of 3? Or, as read literally, 3 for each for a total of 9? I assume it’s the former but I just want to make sure we’re not talking past each other.

I think the way that you’re talking about the collection/donation in terms of items makes it clear that the “unit” you’re dealing with is the individual donated items so I think that’s what your Omeka S items should be: each donated item gets its own Omeka S item. To tie the whole donation/collection together you can use another item to represent that, as you said, or you could instead use an item set, or even just have them all have a shared piece of metadata (say, Provenance).

One plus side of doing things this way is that you maintain flexibility to have things still organized sensibly if a single donated item/object ever requires more than one file (say, photos of the front and back of something, or a scan of a document and an HTML equivalent). In your theoretical different system where there’s just one item for the whole donation, it would be difficult to indicate that two of the attached media for that item really “go together” more than the others.

It’s not uncommon at all for installations of Omeka or Omeka S to use the file/media-level metadata fields very sparsely or even not at all. Both systems really place the Item as the prominent, “first-class” object, and so the usual natural inclination is to have the bulk of the metadata live in Items. If you end up deciding you want to fill in more technical/administrative data about your digital representations (date of creation of the digital copy, format, details about its production, etc.) the Media metadata is a natural place for that kind of thing to go.

Excellent! Thank you for the info. Bringing up the multiple images (scan of a photo front and back) was a good reminder of an issue we would without doubt have run into that I had not thought of yet since I wasn’t working on photos at the moment. You are correct in that we currently create 3 separate Item records, 1 for each item that is donated if we’re following the example of a donation of 3 items. In total, a donation of 3 items would result in 4 item records: 1 for each item and 1 for the entire collection of items/donation that we then link together using the IsPartOf element.

We used to use Omeka Classic (still do on our live version) have but have started migrating over to Omeka S. As I’ve been working on it, I wanted to make sure we get everything nailed down as one of the issues we had (our own internal issues) with our Omeka Classic installation was we started from scratch and as we added more and more, things had to change and became more convoluted and confused. The goal with our Omeka S migration besides being able to add additional sites for other places on our campus is to clean this up and simplify it as much as possible. I wanted to make sure we are using the item vs media records the best way possible so we don’t end up with confusing situation we are in now in other areas.

Thanks again!