Building a National Archival Authority Infrastructure and Scholarship Program for EAC-CPF Workshops

Katherine M. Wisser

In March 2012 SAA started offering the first of seven regional workshops scheduled through June 2013 to facilitate the dissemination of the new standard, Encoded Archival Context – Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families. To alleviate the pressures of decreasing professional development budgets, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is funding twenty scholarships for each of the seven workshops.  The workshops were hosted across the country and the first workshop took place in Austin, Texas.

In September 2013, IMLS extended the grant to June 2014 for two more EAC-CPF offerings, and expanded the scope to provide limited scholarships for other SAA Description courses and workshops. 

The EAC-CPF workshops are one day long and introduce participants to the general structure of the standard, with an extensive hands-on component. Participants learn how to create EAC-CPF records with hands-on application of elements to existing data. In addition, participants discuss balancing existing data with additional data components as part of an implementation strategy.  Exposure to existing projects will inform participant’s considerations on how EAC-CPF may be implemented locally, regionally, or nationally. Upon completion of the workshop, participants will be able to explain the structure and content of the EAC-CPF standard and the companion content standard, International Standard for Archival Authority Records (Corporate Bodies, Persons, and Families) (ISAAR(CPF)), describe the schema design, including elements and attributes defined to reflect that design, explore XML techniques to incorporate data from allied standards, and create EAC-CPF record content from existing data structures such as the Library of Congress Authority File, biographical resources and other related sources.

The EAC-CPF workshop premiered at SAA’s Annual Meeting in Chicago and was well received.  Participants especially appreciated the “hands on creation of records and discussion, breaking down the code structure both by demonstration and working with it ourselves, piecing the tags together and to get used to some of the difference s of EAD.”  “This will enable me to start implementing EAC at my institution” was voiced as well.

To apply for a scholarship, candidates will be asked to complete a simple application form, which includes a brief statement on the candidate’s role within her/his archival institution and on how they think EAC-CPF might be implemented within their repository. Supervisors or managers are required to sign off on the application to confirm institutional commitment to the exploration of EAC-CPF implementation. Scholarship applications will be reviewed by a Scholarship Selection Committee, which includes Kathy Wisser (Assistant Professor and co-Director of the Archives/History Dual Degree program, Simmons College, co-PI for the project, co-chair of the Technical Subcommittee on Encoded Archival Context, and chair of the Scholarship Selection Committee), Solveig DeSutter (Director of Education at the Society of American Archivists), Jerry Simmons (NARA Authority Cataloging Team Lead, member of the Technical Subcommittee for Encoded Archival Context), and Julie Graham (Archival Collections Processing Librarian, at University of California, Los Angeles and co-chair of SAA’s Committee on Education). Successful applicants will be notified and asked to confirm their attendance before they can be registered for the workshop.  Logistical information including hotel, classroom facility, etc. will be posted to the SAA website and specific workshop information will be provided by the SAA Education Department. The workshops follow the general pattern of SAA workshops, including full evaluation of the workshop on-site.

Applications are available on the course/workshop pages in the SAA Education Calendar.  Scholarship recipients will be notified no later than one month prior to the workshop to facilitate travel arrangements.

This scholarship program is a unique opportunity to infuse the profession with a large number of professionals learning a new standard in the early stages of implementation. At the end of the series of workshops, scholarship recipients will be asked to complete an online survey covering the effectiveness of the scholarship program in facilitating professional development. The results of this survey will be reported to IMLS so that it can assess if this strategy is one to pursue. It is hoped that this project may become a model for other projects that seek to disseminate widely standards and best practices.

Finally, this program is just one aspect of the larger “Building a National Archival Authority Infrastructure” project, which includes community-based exploration of the essential requirements for establishing a sustainable National Archival Authorities Cooperative (NAAC). This effort will be organized by the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH) at the University of Virginia and the meetings will be hosted by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C. in 2012. The outcome of this work will be a blueprint for a national cooperative authorities program, published as a white paper. The ultimate goal of the “Building a National Archival Authorities Infrastructure” is to promulgate the use of EAC-CPF by increasing awareness of its benefits and developing the professional skills necessary to employ it.

Visit the education calendar for workshop locations.

ScholarshipApp_for Description workshops.pdf296.32 KB