News What Are "Element Sets" And Why Do You Care

The stable version of Omeka 0.10 has been out for over a month and you may have noticed some major changes to the interface. Among the most important of these changes is the inclusion of “element sets.” This post will explain what element sets are and how you can use them to get the most out of Omeka.

But before I do that, let me explain what an “element” is. In previous versions of Omeka, elements were called “metafields.” We decided to change this name to better reflect the common usage of the term. Essentially, an element is a name that represents a particular attribute of an item. For example, “name,” “date,” and “language” are elements, while “Magna Carta,” “1215,” and “latin” are their attributes, or, as we call them, “element texts.”

It’s best to think of an element set as a set of related elements that are available to all items, regardless of item type. For example, we’ve included the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set in all new Omeka installations. Dublin Core is an internationally recognized standard for describing any conceivable resource. This element set comprises 15 elements, including “title,” “description,” “date,” and “format.” While it is not required, we strongly recommend that you mark up all your items using the Dublin Core element set because doing so will standardize your repository’s metadata and facilitate interoperability.

Whereas Dublin Core is a generic set of elements used to describe any item, there can be other, more domain-specific element sets. For example, art museums may consider adding a CDWA Lite element set, which contains elements that describe core records for works of art and material culture. Libraries may consider adding a METS element set, which contains elements for encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata regarding objects within a digital library. And archives may consider adding an EAD element set, which contains elements for describing the content and intellectual organization of collections of archival materials.

We’ll be working to release some element set plugins in the near future, including one using CDWA Lite and one that includes Dublin Core refinements. Please take a look at the metadata standards used in your discipline and send us ideas on what element sets to include.

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