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Digital Collection Class Projects

This guide is designed to assist students with completing digital collection class projects.

What is a digital exhibit?

Omeka S is a content management system for online digital collections. We are using Omeka S to build digital exhibits for your class projects.  

Omeka S is structured out of three different types of "building blocks":

  • Items: The individual building blocks of a collection. Sortable by type of item and tags. Each student will create a minimum of five items.

  • Pages: Pages allow for interpretation and display of a group of items. Each student will create a single page to create their own digital exhibit. The page can be a combination of items, interpretive text, etc.

  • Sites: Sites are the public-facing side of Omeka S. They contain interpretative text and rely on items as their building blocks.  They usually highlight aspects of a collection based on some common theme. There will be one site for the entire HTST 493 class.

The remainder of this guide will walk you through three steps:

  1. Logging in to Omeka
  2. Adding items to Omeka

Log in to Omeka

Log in to the University of Calgary Class Projects for Omeka site:

You should have received an e-mail from Omeka S with information about your username and instructions for how to login. If you didn't receive it, or can't find it, please use the "forgot password" link and enter your e-mail address to get a new link.

Add an item in Omeka

  • Go to Items in the left sidebar menu

    Screenshot showing how to add an item
  • Select Add an Item (top right)
  • In the next screen, you should see that you're adding an item to the Resource template titled "HTST 493" - it is important to ensure you're using the correct template!
  • Add metadata to the "Values" screen.  For assistance in how to enter metadata, take a look at the class template (available on the next page!).
  • You're now finished adding the metadata for your item. The next step will involve either uploading or embedding the media (e.g. digital image, audio file, PDF, etc). for your item.


Add media file(s)

Libraries and Cultural Resources provides access to a wide range of historical and contemporary photographs that will be useful for this course. This section explains how to embed digital objects from our Digital Collections platform into Omeka S.

1. Make sure you're logged in to Digital Collections using your UCalgary SSO login via the top right hand side of the site. The video below explains some of the benefits of logging in.

2. Navigate to a collection of interest. The University of Calgary Archives Photographs collection or the Canadian Architectural Archives are good places to start. This video explains how to search and browse our digital collections if you are looking for something specific.

  • Once you've found an image that you'd like to embed:
    • Click on the "get link" icon.
    • Then, choose "link to embed asset on external site."
    • In the Asset Format section, choose "Medium res" from the drop down menu. Leave all of the other options as default.
    • Click the "create link" icon and copy and paste this link. It should end with .jpg

3. Now, navigate to your item page in Omeka S. Choose the "Media" link from the top navigation. From the "Add media" pane on the right, click the "URL" icon. Paste the link from Digital Collections into the URL field, and include the item's title in the "Title" field.

Click the "Save" icon on the top right. 

Ensure that your item is correctly mapped into the HTST 493.10: Public History in Practice site. Otherwise, your item will not show up on the public site!

This is done from the "Sites" tab along the top of the screen.

  1. Go to the Media tab. Depending on your media type, choose the appropriate option from the right hand menu. You can include more than one media file if necessary. Each media file must be 40 MB or smaller. Larger files must be hosted elsewhere and then embedded.
    • Digital images should use the upload feature
    • For audio/video files, you can either choose upload feature or put your file on a third-party media hosting site
      • For items hosted on YouTube, use YouTube
      • For items hosted on other platforms (e.g. Vimeo), use oEmbed

Once you're finished, click the "Add" tab on the top right.


  • Screenshot showing how to add media

Repeat the steps above until all media are added for your item. 

You can add multiple media files for a single item. 

Mapping your item

By mapping your item(s), you geolocate them, allowing you to add interactive maps to your page.

The Omeka S user manual explains how to map items.

Create your page

Create a new page to showcase your items, along with interpretive text and any other assets.

The Omeka S help documentation has an excellent guide for creating pages.

Pages in Omeka S are comprised of various blocks of content. Here are a few to try:

  1. Use “Item Showcase” block to display media items in a visually-appealing way

  2. Use “HTML” block to add interpretive text

  3. Use “Map by attachments” block to show your item(s) on a map

Play around with other blocks to get a page that meets your goals!

Pages, as well as underlying items, will be browseable on the Public History in Practice site.

NB: Library staff have to add your page to the navigation menu of the site, so this won't happen instantly! If it's been a few days and you still don't see your page in the navigation menu, contact Christie.