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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Omeka: A User's Guide: Items

An introductory guide to building online exhibits with, the web-based version of Omeka


Items are the building blocks of your Omeka site. Unlike editors such as Wordpress or Microsoft Word where you upload images directly into the file you are working in, Omeka requires Items to be added separately first. 

Keep items organized and help users browse by sorting them into collections and applying tags as a complement.


If you have questions after reading this guide, please contact Dan Tracy (, head of Scholarly Communication and Publishing.

If you are considering starting a journal or digital publication, the Illinois Open Publishing Network is here to help with consultations on digital publishing, open access, scholarly communication, and copyright.

Subject Guide

Upload Items

1.    Click on "Manage Site" to access your Omeka Admin Dashboard.  On the Dashboard, find the Items section and click on the green “Add an Item” button.

The "Items" page


2.  Then there are four (4) information or "metadata" tabs to complete:

The Dublin Core tab of the "add an item" prompt

Dublin Core Tab:

In here, you’ll enter the information or "metadata" about the item. 
a.    For basic functionality, we recommend that you enter information (to the best of your ability) for the Title, Subject, Description, Creator, Source, Publisher and Date.
b.    In particular, the Description field is where you can enter critical commentary and text about the item.
c.    You don’t need to fill in every metadata field listed:  This form is based on the Dublin Core metadata schema, which is more detailed than most people need. The fields after the “Date” field usually are not necessary for a basic exhibit.


Item Type Metadata Tab:

a.    In this section, you can select the specific type of item you’re uploading and then add more metadata information about it.
b.    This is optional but will only help add to the detail of your exhibit. This information can be the same as in the Dublin Core tab.


Files Tab:

a.    This is where you upload the actual file(s).  Please note that the maximum file size is 32 MB.  If needed, you can upload multiple files (i.e., multiple views of a street corner). 
b.    After you’ve finished uploading the file(s), click on the green “Add Item” button.


Tags Tab:

a.    Here you can enter topic and subject tags to associate with the items. 
b.    After you type in your tags, click on "Add Tags" and then "Save Changes".


3. Before clicking the green "Add Item" button on the right-hand side of the screen, select whether or not the item will be Public and/or Featured:

Beneath the "Add Item" button are boxes to select whether the item will be public or featured and a drop-down list to sort it into a collection.

Public means that the item will appear on your Omeka site.  Featured means that the item will appear on the opening page of your site, if the theme you select has a space for featured items.

Batch Import

You can use Omeka's CSV Import Plug-In to upload metadata for multiple items at once into your site with a CSV (Comma Separated Values) spreadsheet file.

Finding Digital Material

As you search for Items to add to your collection, always be mindful of copyright restrictions. 

If an image or text is from an electronic database (i.e., ARTStor) or a website owned by an organization, there are rules on how you can re-use and display their materials on your Omeka site. And while some materials are in the "public domain" there may be rules on how to use them if an organization manages their access.

The following resources will help you jump start your collection. 

Digital Collections:

Copyright Resources:

When in doubt, contact the Copyright Librarian, Sara Benson or Ask a Librarian!

Copyright Advisory

When gathering material for your digital exhibit, it is important to be aware of copyright and licensing restrictions.

If an image or text is taken from an electronic database (e.g. ARTStor) or a website owned by an organization (e.g. The Getty, DPLA), there are often restrictions on how you can re-use and display these materials. Some material might even be in the public domain—books, images, scores, etc. published pre-1924—but the holding institution can still apply licenses and restrictions.

Learn more from the Copyright Reference Guide and Copyright and Digitization of Library Materials or set up a consultation with the Copyright Librarian.