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Forum is a media management system that allows you to catalog, manage, and share your digital collections locally or broadly. You can upload your images, video, audio, and documents and add descriptive metadata to make your content searchable. The content you catalog can be published and shared with your institution, made openly available as a public collection, and online exhibitions through Omeka. Content can also be harvested from our OAI-PMH server to be used in a library discovery system or in another local discovery layer.

Cataloging Workflows

The most standard cataloging workflow is as follows:

  1. Upload a media file.
  2. Edit the newly item record to add descriptive data and save.
  3. Publish to an available target for end users to discover.

Other, more complex workflows may vary based on your cataloging objectives. Follow these suggested workflows to find what works best for you. Click the links to learn more about each step.

Workflow scenario: Creating new records with identical data in one or more fields (Catalog Data in Multiple Records).

  1. Upload a selection of media files in batch that will contain primarily identical descriptive data.
  2. Select the newly created items in the item panel and edit them.
  3. In the field(s) where the data is identical, enter the value(s).
  4. Save and close the items.
  5. Publish to an available target for end users to discover.

Workflow scenario: Using master record to apply identical descriptive data in one or more fields (Master Records).

  1. Upload a media file, OR create a new, blank record.
  2. Open the record to the edit tab and catalog descriptive data.
  3. Save the record and then mark as Master.
  4. Return to the project tab and upload several related media files that contain identical descriptive data.
  5. Select the newly created records in the asset panel and open to the bulk edit tab.
  6. In the field(s) where the data is identical, place your cursor and use the keyboard shortcut Control+D (or Command+D for Mac) to paste the value(s) for the selected field as copied from the Master Record.
  7. Repeat for any relevant fields, OR place your cursor in any field and use the keyboard shortcut Control+E (or Command+E for Mac) to paste all fields copied from the Master Record, OR use the Options menu to choose Paste from Master.
  8. Save the records and publish for end users to discover.

Workflow scenario: Using Excel to migrate from your institution’s previous system (Create, Edit, and Delete Data Using Excel). Using an Excel export of data from another system, you can modify the exported spreadsheet to align with your Forum project’s fields for easy importing of data first, followed by uploading of the media files to match.

  1. Create an Excel template of your Forum project.
  2. Use the headers from your template spreadsheet to replace the headers of the Excel spreadsheet you exported from the local system, this is the map for your data when it enters Forum. (Note that column order is not significant.)
  3. Enter NEW in the SSID column for each row.
  4. Include exact filenames of the corresponding media files you will import.
  5. Perform a clean-up of data as needed using Excel’s many functionalities.
  6. Incorporate linked vocabularies in the data wherever possible (Excel and Linked Fields).
  7. Save a copy of the spreadsheet, so you don’t overwrite the original document.
  8. Import this modified spreadsheet to your Forum project.
  9. Upload the corresponding media files and watch the system sync the data records with the images, audio, video, and document files.
  10. Perform additional clean-up in the Cataloging Tools and save the changes.
  11. Publish the records for end users to discover.

Project Building Workflow

The workflow for building projects in the Forum Admin is relatively standard, but there may be variations as each project requires different metadata schemas, linked vocabularies, etc. Click the links to learn more about each step. If you are interested in building a project that uses Works, please contact

The most standard of project building workflows is as follows:

  1. Select the Actions menu and then New. Enter your new project’s name and select a template option. Select Create
  2. Once the new project is created, select it in the project panel and navigate to the Fields tab.
  3. Add, edit, or delete fields to meet your custom metadata schema.
  4. Change field types and labels, add linked vocabularies, lists, or default values.
  5. When satisfied with the fields, navigate to the Cataloging Forms tab.
  6. Add a new unique cataloging form, and then add all the fields you would like available in this screen.
  7. When satisfied with the set-up of cataloging forms, navigate to the Targets tab.
  8. Add a new target for publishing your items. Target types include Institutional Collections in Artstor for local discovery, Public Collections for open access discovery in Artstor, Personal Collections in Artstor for a private project, Omeka for online exhibit building, and OAI for harvesting to other discovery layers (contact to set up an OAI target).
  9. Establish the target’s settings, including download settings for images, collection rights statement, collection description, and representative image.
  10. Select the new target and select Map Project Fields to define the data’s display when items are published.
  11. When satisfied with adding targets, navigate to the User Permissions tab.
  12. Add new users as project administrators or catalogers, always adding yourself as an administrator. If the users do not already have an Artstor account, they should create an Artstor account, OR you may create one for  them as an Artstor Admin. To establish catalogers, grant them access to specific cataloging form, publishing targets (or no targets if preferred), and set up a base filter.
  13. When satisfied with the permissions, open a new tab of your browser and log into the Forum to review your project.
  14. Continue to make changes to the project in Forum Admin until you feel it is ready for adding content and publishing.

Basic Concepts

Project: A project is the top-level organizational unit in through which metadata schema are defined and items are managed. Projects are also where publishing to end-user collections is setup. Forum can contain multiple projects. Access to projects can be restricted on a user by user basis. For example a student cataloger may only have access to a one project but a visual resources curator may have access to multiple projects.

Fields: Project fields are fully customizable through the Administrative Tools. Fields can be set up to allow free-text entries, controlled list values, numeric values, or they can be linked to authorities like Getty’s Art & Architecture Thesaurus. Once established, the fields contain the data which describes your content and makes it searchable and retrievable to end users. Field access can be restricted to certain users and restrictions can be placed on how users may enter data in a field.

Record: A record presents  the metadata values in each project field for an item. A single record can be linked to media files.

Media: A media file is the image, audio, video, PDF, Powerpoint, or document (Word, Excel) file that represents the item being described in the record to which it is attached. The storage utilized for a project is calculated based on the size of the media files uploaded to that project. Derivatives are automatically created for media files to be used throughout the system, (thumbnails, for example, are used in the grid view in the asset panel). Derivatives are not included in the calculation of your storage.

Item/Asset: An item or asset refers to the media files and corresponding metadata presented together in a record as a representation of a work or object. Items are viewable in the assets panel when you select a project, and are filterable, searchable, editable and can be deleted or suppressed from publishing environments.

Set: A set is a user-created group of records that allows you to organize items within a project. Personal sets are viewable only by you, though the content within the set may be viewable by others. Administrators can see all sets in a project. Shared sets are visible to all users that have access to the project. Deleting items within a set will remove them only from the set and not from the project. Items can belong to multiple sets, and including an item in a set does not remove it from the main asset display for the project.

Sharing through Publishing

You can easily share as much content as you like, through multiple publishing options. You can publish directly to an Institutional Collection in Artstor where only recognized users can access your content, or you can publish your content  as a Public Collection in Artstor or an Omeka exhibition. Options for media use and access vary depending on which environment to which you publish.