Omeka for physical library

Hi there,

I'm volunteering at El Centro de la Raza, a space for the Latino community in Seattle. They used to have a book store, and they also have been collecting documents and artworks since the 70s. The result is an immense attic full of documents ready to be catalogued for different purposes, so we chose Omeka as our software to make this happen.

I'm in charge of the Library part of it, and I have some specific questions about it. I would really appreciate an answer on these:

1) Item types: I see that the default item type intended for books is "Text", as I don't see anything specific to books. Should I create and customize my own item type? Any recommendation for the fields I should include?

2) Retrieve information from external sources: since filling all the fields for every single books we have (around 4000) can be a considerable amount of time, I wonder if there is a plugin or process you can recommend so I just insert the ID (ISBN) of every book and I get all the information downloaded from somewhere like Library of Congress.I.e.:

3) Localization: the books are currently in boxes, and they should remain in this container until we have a definitive place for their public exhibition. Any suggestion for the custom field for this? Somewhere I can add "Box 2" to facilitate its temporary location.

3) They also have a lot of periodic publications. What would be the best way to classify those? Just adding the title of the magazine/newspaper and then having a field for the issues that we have?

4) Other item types: comics, media (records, video), picture books, zines/pamphlets... Any recommendation for these as well?

Regarding info retrieval, I don't know of a plugin that will do that directly. However, a handy workaround is to use Zotero to automatically gather book data, then use the Zotero Import plugin. That should capture most of the data.

The rest of your questions all sound like they come down to item types and fields.

To some extent, the fields and item types you need come down to the particular information about your collection that you need to capture. Dublin Core will be there for all items, and so that will cover most of the basic needs. For that many items, separating them out into custom items types (book, newspaper, zine, pamphlet, etc) will probably make organizing the site easier as you go along. As you thought, a "box" and/or "folder" field for all of them will be a good idea. Any other fields that will help you locate the items will also be good. For example, if your immense attic has bookcases or shelves with identifiers, or if it broken up into separate rooms, that might help you find the boxes again. Little bits of data like that often help a lot later on. Whether those all need to go into separate fields, or whether they can go into one general "storage location" field, might depend on how organized the storage is.

For the newspapers/magazines, it depends a little on whether you want to make each individual issue a separate item, or treat all issues from one publication as a single item. I'm not sure there's a definitive right answer -- it might have more to do with the needs of your patrons, and the resources you have available to record all that data. But, yes, if you lump all issues together, you'll definitely want to list what issues you have.