Omeka vs BePress for Digital Collection

There is an initiative from one of the departments at our institution to curate digitized collections of letters and other primary sources (about 1,500 items). Members of the research team have reached out to me to recommend a platform to display these collections and where students can contribute with metadata curation and secondary sources (capstones). One member would like to use our Digital Commons (BePress), which is already housing 100 records related to this collection. The other member would like Omeka. I’d like to consider Omeka myself, but I’d need to learn more about the main differences (pros and cons) of BePress vs Omeka so that I can present them to my team. Could you provide me advice as to how to best make those determinations? Also, if we start with BePress, could we migrate to Omeka down the road? In what ways can Omeka and BePress communicate? Thank you very much for any advice you could provide me.

I would certainly say that none of us here on the Omeka team are BePress experts, but my quick look at their site and documentation suggest some paths.

First, BePress provides an OAI-PMH endpoint so, the materials could be imported using the Omeka OAI-PMH Harvester. Second it seems that BePress has an API, so it would be possible to script and API to API transfer solution. Finally, the tried and true method would be to export a CSV of the metadata for items in BePress and use the Omeka CSVImporter to import that data and fetch the files.

Co-creation and Curation:
I’ve got less of a sense of how this might work in BePress, but Omeka Classic offers you a variety of user roles that help student work well without chancing interfering with one another’s work. The creation of items with descriptive Dublin Core metadata can be extended through the use of the Library of Congress and Getty Research Institute controlled vocabularies. Users can supplement those controlled vocabs with custom controlled vocabs of their own, and the use of Search by Metadata to make the metadata inputs into links that produce browse lists of all the other items that share that input. Also, the Exhibit Builder in combination with other plugins like Geolocation and Exhibit Image Annotation will give them the opportunity to create rich narrative exhibits that activate the items they create. Together those features make for a pretty robust and rewarding authoring experience for students.

Hope that helps some. I’m eager to see what kinds of responses other members of the community have to share.

This is super helpful, Sharon. Thank you very much. I also look forward to hearing what others in the community would like to share about the topic.

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