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Notes - Finding Aids in EAD


In order for EAD to be used, we need a tool to create EAD documents that is easy enough for a non-technical person and yet powerful enough to do it well. There are several tools available, but by my estimation, XMetal is worth the premium pricetab because IT MAKES IT SO EASY!

Here is a screen shot.


In my opinion, the point of EAD is that it is a format that will be good on a LONG TERM basis. XML has established itself as the format of choice for a broad spectrum of data exchange for the forseeable future, and tools for indexing and presenting XML documents are improving at a rapid pace. Already, all recent browsers can present XML via XSL, so this is the obvious default for XML presentation. If it is necessary to support legacy browsers, then conversion to static HTML should be considered via some platform such as Saxon.


Since EAD is XML, it seems obvious to me that it is worth extending it to include a broader range of archival materials than just finding aids. While all attempts should be made to do things according to the standards, the lack of a predefined tag should not preclude the encoding of additional data, in my opinion. For example, I see no reason not to encode urls for the actual photo in a finding aid which describes the photo collection.


By encoding finding aids in EAD/XML and presenting them on the web, all the power of web search engines an customized search tools can be brought to bear on the finding aids. To the extent that they are served in XML format via XSL, additional improvements in search engines ability to understand XML will result in better searches and accessibility of the finding aid. Hence an EAD finding aid is positioned to leverage on the technological improvements that are forthcoming in web technology.

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