There never seems to be enough time…
Alas, I knew not everything was going to be as successful an adventure as my introductions to Tropy and Zotero were! I was quite excited to use Omeka–I’ve seen it demonstrated at conferences before and looked at model projects created in it, and I’ve really wanted the ability to curate digital exhibits for years now, when I realized how useful they were as teaching tools during the COVID lockdowns of 2020-2021. But unfortunately, I think it’s going to take me a bit more time to figure out how to get the most out of Omeka.
My first hurdle wasn’t so much in figuring out how to add items and fill in metadata, though that certainly required some decision-making and digging around for information to fill in. No, my big challenge was and is getting images to show up. I have a theory:
When entering items, I get the red error message pictured above, which tells me that “The ImageMagick directory path has not been set. No derivative images will be created.” This led me to Google what “ImageMagic” was, and I came upon a page that suggested that Reclaim hosting had ImageMagic installed and offered a directory path. When I entered this directory path, though, WordFence told me that I had tried an unsafe operation. I think this might take some digging around in Reclaim. In the meantime, it seems the best I can hope for is something like this:
What I can get now is not a thumbnail image, but rather a link to an image or a file. In this case, though, if I were making an exhibit in Omeka, I wouldn’t want the whole newspaper anyway. What I would want is something more like this:
After all, my exhibit (or would-be exhibit!) was about Clemson College Library before Cooper was built, rather than campus life in 1958 more generally. I think I’d probably have to do some editing on the original .pdf file, or pull some images from it, for the exhibit. On the other hand, would that be a distortion of the original source material?
In any event, some of my Omeka-related questions will have to remain unanswered until I get a better sense of how the basics work. As a bonus, my research for this assignment demonstrated one of the weaknesses of search-term based research that we’ve discussed in previous class periods. One of the many issues with the ease of search engines is that, if you don’t get results for what you type in, it’s easy to think that there’s nothing out there. That might have been my initial thought when I searched for “library” in the TigerPrints archives of Board of Trustees minutes and got this:
Now, I knew this had to be wrong–after all, I knew from looking in old newspaper issues that there were a lot of stories about the new library under construction in 1964, and I couldn’t imagine that a new library gets built without the Board of Trustees even talking about it! So I went in from another direction: I opened the minutes files from 1964 one by one and ran a Ctrl-F search for “library” within the file. That got me what I was looking for, and also proved to be a good illustration of the necessity of approaching research from more than one angle.
I’ll try to take that lesson with me as I figure out how to use Omeka!