Manuscript-level records in Omeka

I had some time tonight to figure out how to get the manuscript-level records into Omeka.

I’d already worked out the (very simple) XPath needed to pull out the few bits of information I wanted from the TEI msDesc: siglum, title, URL to the Walters data, BookReader URL, and URL to the first thumbnail image in the ms (which I’m just using as an illustration, a placeholder for the full ms). This evening I did the final checks to make sure the output was right, then just ran the XSLT against all the msDesc files and created .csv files for each one (there’s an Omeka plug-in that will accept CSV input, in order to bulk ingest metadata and files). I used the “insert file contents” function in TextWrangler (bless that program) to pull all of the individual CSV rows into a single document, then ingested that into Omeka. There were a few bugs, of course, but generally it was smooth. I’ve made a few of the records live, just those that already have illumination records tagged in Omeka too. What this means is that you can now go to the Omeka site, go to “Browse Items by Tag” (, and click on one of the larger tags (each ms and illumination is tagged with the ms siglum; the more illustrations there are, the larger the tag will appear in the browse list). At the moment the first entry in the list will be the record for the manuscript, followed by the record for the illuminations… although I don’t know if that’s just because the manuscript records are newer.

I would like to include each illumination in the ms records (HasPart) and the ms in the illumination records too (IsPartOf), but I am not certain that’s something I’ll be able to do programmatically. Anyway, I think that is the next thing on my list. That and tagging all of the other illumination records with the siglum (so they will be browseable with the manuscript).

Walters in Omeka

This evening I spent some time thinking about the best way to organize the Digital Walters data into Omeka.

I’ve already experimented with bulk ingesting all of the illuminations (pulling all the decoDesc tags from the TEI manuscript descriptions, and creating a record in Omeka for each one). You can see these in the Omeka instance (although it’s not very pretty). I realized that, as fun as that experiment was, in order for it to be useful I need to take a step back and reevaluate how best to move forward.

I created a record for one of the manuscripts: It’s basic, including the Title (and the siglum under Alternative Title), links to the manuscript’s home on the Digital Walters site and its Bookreader version on this site (both under Description), and under Has Part, links to an illumination record in Omeka, an illumination that appears in that manuscript.

I want to do a few things to start out:

1) Create one record for each manuscript. I will do this using Omeka’s CSV plug-in… I’ve figured out how to pull all of the information I need from each of the TEI MS Description files, now I need to figure out how to pull all of it into one file and make that file a CSV file. Ithink I can use Xinclude to do that but I need to try more than I had time to tonight.

2) I would like to have a way to automatically attach the illumination records that are already in Omeka to the new manuscript records. The link that’s in the test record is one I added by hand, but Omeka has a collection hierarchy and I need to play with that to see if there might be something in there that can be used for this purpose. What I fear is that the hierarchy is only at the full level – that is, I can say that all of the illuminations are under all of the manuscripts, but I can’t say that some subset of the illuminations are under some particular manuscript. I will need to find out more!

It’s good to be back in the site. I still have an article to finish (and another already started) but I would like to make some progress on the Omeka catalog in the next month or so.