I am currently evaluating web content management and collection management softwares for a small institution that will be creating a new archive and small museum for their currently unacessioned collections. These collections (a whole warehouse full) include archival materials, historical objects, musical instruments, photographs, sound and video recordings.
I am curious to know if there are any small museums or archives out there using Omeka as their primary collections management software, since I'm trying to get a sense of how feasible it might be to run on Omeka alone. Also, if I determine that we will need collections software more robust, I'd be curious to know what other softwares small archives/museums have been using in conjunction with Omeka successfully.
I guess we qualify as a small archive - we're a Historical Society in Massachusetts - and Omeka is our collection management software. We have a couple of other very simple tools outside of Omeka that are part of our process, but Omeka is doing what we want/need it to do. That said, if your requirements stray too far from Omeka's strengths, you shouldn't be too disappointed - they'll be the first people to say that collection management is not the primary objective of Omeka (you only have to look at accession identifier generation to get that hint loud and clear).
Thanks Dave. I am curious to know what other softwares/tools you are using to log some of those basic collections-related tasks, if not Omeka (things like generating accession numbers, logging storage locations, loans, rights and reproduction, condition-reporting etc).
If small collections are using separate collection management software in conjunction with Omeka, I'm curious to know which, if any, have been able to import data into and sync with Omeka's database at all. Having to manually catalog each item into both Omeka and a CMS system seems like such a waste of time.
As long as you can export the data from your collection management system to CSV, you shouldn't need to manually re-catalog anything. CSV Import will allow you to map your system's fields to the Dublin Core or Item Type Metadata fields in Omeka. I've used CSVImport with data from both our in-house Access database (cringe, yes, I know) and Fedora (XML converted to CSV).
Omeka is an OAI-PMH repository as other ones, you just have to add two plugins, one to make a repository (http://omeka.org/codex/Plugins/OaiPmhRepository) and one to harvest other repositories (http://omeka.org/codex/Plugins/OaipmhHarvester). After, you can manage your metadata anywhere.
Of course, each OAI-PMH app is better in a domain or another one, or have a different language (Omeka in Php, Invenio in Python, ePrints in Perl, Fedora, DSpace, Ori-Oai in Java...). Omeka is designed for simplicity and for museums and libraries, and for digitalized archives. Fedora, Ori-Oai are designed for librarians, Invenio for researchers, DSpace and ePrints are more generalist. Accordingly, Omeka doesn't manage rights, but display items better than simple list of files.
Infodoc & Knowledge management
Thanks everyone for weighing in and for your suggestions. In the end (as I suspected) Omeka will not be a robust enough collections management tool for us, and so we will have to find a (preferably open-source) software to manage both museum objects and a proper institutional archive with finding guides and all typical best-practice measures. After a more intensive review of options I am considering CollectionSpace, one of the newer softwares to emerge in the field. I'm curious to know if any other museums/small archives are using CollectionSpace with Omeka currently and of any perils or pitfalls in transferring records and metadata. I know that the coming release of Omeka S will see enhanced metadata streaming for several softwares, including CollectionSpace.
Sorry for the late follow-up. It seems you've made your decision to look elsewhere - but in case anyone else is interested...
When I said we used some simple tools, I wasn't kidding.
The primary item that Omeka lacks (for us) is the generation of accession numbers. We do this with a wordpress page that has an ordered list (our accessing numbering is simple: year.###, e.g., 2014.314). When we have a new item, we edit the page, add a new item to the list (which gives us the number) and a short description of the item for logging purposes. This accession number is then used as the Omeka "Identifier" attribute, etc.
Storage locations are done with a custom metadata attribute we created called "Storage". We number our storage containers the same way we do accession numbers - a simple list.
Rights and other things, we we don't really manage very tightly due to how we're set up, can be specified as Omeka attributes (I think there are Dublin Core ones for that).
Loans, also extremely infrequent for us, are done with paper and pencil, but we'd probably create another custom attribute if having it electronically stored was of value.
You can see this in action on our site. maynardhistory.org - take a look in the footer and you'll see a link to Collection Management.