Digital Access Management

The past few months I’ve been looking at different ways to get my historic photographic collections searchable and online with relevant metadata and images.

In the past I’ve just posted into my blog and not paid much attention to what there was and where it was stored. Recently I’ve given a few process identification talks and found myself looking for certain plates and finding others I’d forgotten I had.

Now a DAM or Collection Management system is usually vocab limited to my workplace and not something I thought I’d be spending my spare-time researching.

I originally hoped there would be a plugin or theme in WordPress, my blog and website are WordPress originated. Unfortunately there were very limited resources and the ones I did find had restrictions or had support issues. Various other online solutions were suggested including Google Sheets.

There are packages you can pay for, and some that say they are free but actually have costs when you look at their Cloud storage options.

What I wanted was something that could take me from a database/spreadsheet that I could upload to my webserver with metadata and produce a front end that was user friendly and searchable.

I found two possible candidates.

Musarch and Omeka

Musarch looked quite promising until I found limitations in the free version and image linking, its also Windows based and I’m Mac at work and home.

Omeka was my last resort and it turns out the most suitable. Its Dublin Core based, and was easily installed by Stuart, my web host administrator. Thank you Stuart, I was a little worried it would have been a pain to install.

The last few days I’ve been testing various plugins, shortcodes, themes and data uploads. All seems straight forward so far, until I started to look at the Dublin Core Schema for metadata. Thats where it all start to get confusing.

I can organise my “collection’ in whatever way I like, its just getting it right from the beginning. What fields are relevant and what info do I put into each of those fields. I think some planning is needed. I’ll start by making the “collections” and relevant DC metadata.

Then I’ll have to look at “items’ and their metadata. I’m hoping its a case of making an Excel database/spreadsheet for each collection, exporting as a CSV and importing into Omeka. Theres a Plugin for just that!

The web address is, although theres not a lot in the Public facing pages yet, but it is live. Hopefully the next few weeks I can get some of this sorted.

Looking at my collection I think only 1/3 of it is digitised. This evening I opened a box that I hadn’t had time to look through properly and found these… a decent mix of daguerrotypes, ambrotypes and opalotypes. Love it when that happens.