Curator Monitor

Curator Monitor was developed to enable editors to track the progress of documents through each of the editorial stages. Omeka’s default control system (public/not public and featured/not featured) was not complex enough to prepare and publish a digital edition where there are many levels of “doneness.” We needed to built this administrative control into each document record so that we did not have to maintain outside systems.

The Curator Monitor plugin creates a tab on all Item Records where you can record the status of work.

Each of the fields has been customized so that it is a dropdown box with only the legal choices for each field. (See Settings to create the choices and select a default value).

Quality control

Initial editorial work is just that. Our first draft of a transcription, whether done by a student or an editor, is not generally publication ready. Transcriptions need at least one, and sometimes several proofreadings, before they are ready to be published on the web. We developed five statuses for transcriptions: pending (not completed), completed, proofread, ready to publish, and published.

The creation of metadata also needs quality control. Editors review all metadata fields, checking to make sure that they are accurate, complete, and match our guides. We developed five statuses for metadata development: incomplete, complete, fact checked, ready to publish, published.

Qualitative Assessment

We added a monitor field to describe the difficulty of transcribing the document (easy, medium and dificult) so that users who want to lend a hand transcribing can select the level of difficulty.

Permissions Management

Before we can publish a document and its image, we need to secure proper permissions. We contact archives to secure permission to publish the image of the document, while we contact copyright holders to secure permission to publish the content of the document. Both the document image and copyright are tracked by selecting: Cleared, Pending, Restricted.


It is important to us to be able to add all documents we find in the digital edition, even if we cannot publish some of them at this point. That way we have built a complete resource and can search through everything. Once we clear permission or a document falls into public domain, they can be published.

Managing workflows

How do you know which documents need to be transcribed? Or which ones have to be proofread? By assigning a status to each document, we are able to use Omeka’s search capabilities to retrieve documents by workflow status.

Transcribers search for documents with transcription status “pending” and when they have completed their work, they change the status to “completed.” Editors review “complete” transcriptions and then decide whether they are “ready to publish” or merely “proofread” (usually still has some tricky works).

We track whether documents need to be translated. The default is “not needed,” but when a document is in a foreign language, this is changed to “pending,” then “completed” when it is done, and “ready to publish” when it has been verified.

Documents that need research, usually the identifications we create for people, organizations, and events, are assigned not only a status, but a researcher who is responsible for completing the entry.  Editors can assign 50-100 “incomplete” records to a student researcher automatically, and the student changes the status of each one to “complete” as they finish them.

Counts and Reports

The Curator Monitor gives you an up-to-date look at the numbers of records that fill each category.

The Browse button allows you to browse the records that meet that criteria. So, for example, you could begin to browse all 42 records that are “Fact Checked” to determine why they have not been pushed forward to “Ready to Publish.” Based on our project’s procedures, students can fact check other students’ work, but only an editor can set a document at “ready to publish” or “published.”

The Stage button allows you to automatically move all documents the next stage. We usually don’t use this, but could if we wanted to publish all the documents that are “ready to publish.”

You can export the statistical report as a .csv, .ods or .fods.

Obtain Curator Monitor

Curator Monitor was written by Daniel Berthereau for the Jane Addams Papers Project, funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. It is freely available for download via GitHub.  Curator Monitor requires the use of History Log and Simple Vocab. The Hide Elements plugin is optional, so that you can hide these workflow steps in the public site. Install it just like any other Omeka plugin.

Customizing Curator Monitor

The workflows and steps that we created may not match your needs. Curator Monitor allows you to create your own fields and control the content. To do this, go to “Settings,” then “Element Sets” and then choose “Monitor.” You will be prompted to add your elements and then describe how they work.