EAD Roundtable Meeting Minutes 1999

Saturday, August 28, 1999, Pittsburgh, PA, 8:45-10:15

Old Business

Chair Tim Young opened the meeting by welcoming participants to the second meeting of the EAD RoundTable (RT). A total of 98 members were present. He then introduced a representative from the 2000 annual program committee who encouraged RoundTable members to submit session proposals for the 2000 meeting. The deadline is October 8 with the program committee meeting in early November to set the program for next year. If a RoundTable or Section submitted more than one proposal, please indicate which one the group felt most important. He also urged that the forms be filled in completely as that greatly assisted the program committee.

Tim Young asked for a show of hands of those present working with EAD, how many not, and how many working with converting beta files to version 1. Almost all present were in one way or another working with EAD, but Tim encouraged those who were not, to not give up but to persevere.

Tim gave a review of activities of the EAD Working Group during the past year. This included the publication of the EAD Tag Library last August, and the publication of the EAD Guidelines this August. (Both available through the SAA publication’s office.) The EAD Working Group met on Sunday, August 29 from 9-12 with the meeting open to any interested individuals.

Tim focused next on the main goal during the past year for the EAD RT – that of creating and bringing on-line the EAD HELP PAGES that were up by the last week of October 1998. The web site was created as a means of sharing information on EAD and among other items contains FAQs, general background information, etc. It was decided not to include links to products, but rather provide links to implementers, and annotated sites with contact information.

Tim then discussed software problems pertaining to the delivery of EAD instances specifically Panorama. But he emphasized that even with these difficulties, tagging was still a valid effort and that hopefully this year would see the emergence of XML compliant software.

New Business

Next on the agenda was a call for nominees for vice-chair/chair-elect. Mary Lacy of the Library of Congress and Naomi Nelson of Emory University were nominated and agreed to run. Naomi Nelson was elected and will be vice-chair/chair-elect as Beth Bensman (previous vice-chair/chair-elect) will become chair. Tim then turned the meeting over to Beth, who introduced the first speaker on the program – Anne Van Camp from the Research Libraries Group(RLG) Archival Resources.

Anne commended the EAD Working Group on behalf of their efforts and also commented on the helpfulness of the EAD HELP PAGES for RLG. She then proceeded to give an overview of Archival Resources. RLIN (the union database for RLG) currently contains over half a million MARC AMC records. Last year, RLG decided to provide access to full text finding aids (FA) and by September 1998 approximately 2,000 FA had been encoded. Anne stated that by August of 1999, they would have over 6,500 FA from over 40 institutions. Collections include literary and personal papers as well as records of government agencies covering a wide variety of topics. Continued growth is expected with the addition of 3,000 FA in the next month.

Problems faced during implementation included how to encode and deliver – areas where the EAD HELP PAGES and the LC site were useful. Still there is variety in EAD implementation and Anne hopes the publication of the EAD Guidelines will provide more consistency and standardization. One major problem was that institutions were not consistent in the way they encode the name of their repository. RLG has compensated for this by determining which fields might contain this information and then searching all of them. Repositories also use a variety of date formats, making searching by date difficult. For next year, Archival Resources sees the internationalization of EAD.

Next speaker was Tom O’Brien of Apex Data Services – a data conversion company. Tom began by stating that 18 months ago RLG began the selection process for a data conversion company and selected APEX. Since then the company has worked with over 37 institutions. Tom described the system to accommodate various types of FAs and also what to do with legacy data that doesn’t conform to the EAD DTD. Out of 144 available tags, RLG and Apex identified 73 tags that would comprise an RLG minimum markup standard. Tom also addressed whether a third party vendor should add intellectual markup or whether the repository should do that. Tom advised the RT to decide on an EAD structure and tags, analyze legacy data, identify existing structure and begin mapping their FA to the EAD structure. He suggested that repositories first attempt to markup the most standardized FA (typically about 85-90% of the FA), leaving the more customized FA for later (typically 10-15% FA.)

Tom stated that the company had converted FA for University of California system and other academic sites, worked with TEI Lite for SOLINET, had worked with the University of Michigan, and on the encoding of the Middle English Dictionary.

Liz Shaw, the next speaker, is the Digital Projects Manager from the University of Pittsburgh. Liz came to the University when it became a member of the SGML server program. She started with developing a website for the history of Pittsburgh. Since the history center had already standardized their FA practices, conversion was not a difficult as expected. However the University of Pittsburgh had inconsistent FA, which did cause problems. They now have an approved data entry form (written using EMACS and perl scripts) that captures collection level information and does not require that the data entry person be knowledgeable about SGML or EAD. They use an abstract field that displays in browse mode with links to the full FA. Liz provided several helpful examples of the various forms used and how they worked to collect and collate information. Future plans include further revisions of the FA and a user evaluation conducted by Beth Yakel. The FA database will be available to the public soon at http://digital.library.pitt.edu

Following the speakers was a question and answer session for the speakers, questions on the direction of the RT, or EAD in general.


[For APEX] Where do you do your keyboarding?
A: In India, due to labor costs, however the service center is located in Virginia.

[For RLG] What are perl, EMACS and OpenText?
A: Perl is a scripting language, EMACS – a freeware program for Unix, and OpenText (which makes LiveLink) is a software program for indexing and displaying SGML.

[For RLG] How can an institution add FA to Archival Resources?
A: Information is available on the RLG FAQ pages, but an institution does not have to be a member to participate.

[For RLG] How does Archival Resources handle revisions to FA and OCLC records?
A: The "Collector" (an automated process which goes out and indexes finding aids) will determine what has been updated and then update Archival Resources. RLG does not have access to OCLC records, so they cannot be automatically included in Archival Resources.

[For RLG] How can MARC records be included in Archival Resources?
A: If the records were entered into the RLIN database, they are already included in Archival Resources. For OCLC records, participants can send records to be included into RLIN.

[For APEX] What does APEX need to make the conversation of FA easy and efficient?
A: Tom requested examples of existing finding aids. Apex will convert a few instances, return them to the institution for review and comment, then modify the process as necessary before continuing with full- scale conversion. Charges are approximately $2.00 per page up to $5.00 per page.

[For the Round Table] Does anyone know of any other union databases in existence or does anyone present have any interest in forming one?

[For APEX] What is the price of APEX conversion per character?
A: Price is per character, based on the final product and including EAD encoding. RLG participants do receive a price break.

[for the Round Table]Would a set of templates be helpful on the EAD HELP PAGES?
A: The general consensus of the RT was yes and also that data content standards would be useful.

General announcements from the floor:

Jim Cross at Clemson University announced that a workshop for the planning and implementation of EAD would be held at the University on October 21. Interested participants were encouraged to contact Jim at his e-mail address jcross@clemson.edu for more information.

Tim Young announced that he would be presenting a similar workshop on November 11 in conjunction with the MARAC meeting in Hauppauge, NY. (Watch the MARAC web site for additional information.)

Peter Hirtle suggested that RT members implement Steve Hensen's suggestion (made during his paper at an SAA session) to use RAD (the Canadian Rules for Archival Description) as a data content standard and then report back to the RT.

Beth Bensman closed the meeting by thanking attendees for coming to the RT.