EAD Roundtable Meeting Minutes 2001

Saturday, September 1, 2001, Washington, D.C., 8-9:30

EAD RoundTable Chair Naomi Nelson (Emory University) started the meeting at 8:00 by reminding everyone to sign the attendance sheets. Sixty-six (66) members were present She also spoke of the many challenges that EAD has been facing. At this particular SAA conference, EAD has been questioned as a descriptive standard, technically, and also talked about how good the EAD cookbook has been but also how now people are questioning how to improve it to meet the diverse needs of the profession.

Naomi also said that there were two programs sponsored by the EAD Roundtable this year at SAA. The first was EAD Implementation: Strategies for the Rest of Us ( Chair: Michael Fox, Minnesota Historical Society. Speakers: Gina Minks, University of Tulsa; Chris Prom, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; and Elizabeth Dow, Louisiana State University. The second session was The Internationalization of EAD: A Clash with Descriptive Standards? (Chair: Meg Sweet, Public Record Office U.K. Speakers: Catherine Dhérent, Archives de France; Tim Hutchinson, University of Saskatchewan Archives; Bill Stockting, Public Records Office U. K. ) She reminded everyone to be sure to contact the new EAD Roundtable chair, Stephen Miller (Digital Library of Georgia) if anyone has a session for next years conference that they would like the roundtable to sponsor. Also please be sure to contact Stephen with any information that should be updated or added to the website.


Tim Young, Webmaster (Yale University)

There have been really no changes since February 2001 when certain profiles were updated and minor corrections made to the cookbook. As always in the fall, please be sure to send updated of new implementation information to Tim. Currently, there are 37 repositories and 12 projects represented on the EAD Help Pages (http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/ead/) and they would like to have more! Please let him know if there are any suggestions for additions to the Help Pages. This year he sees the focus of the these pages moving toward more support for XML implementation issues.

Kris Kiesling, EAD Working Group (University of Texas-Austin)

Diane Vogt-O’Connor (NARA) will be the incoming chair for the Standards Committee and they are looking to expand the group to more technical sub committees. Standards Committee meetings are open so please think about attending these meetings that usually take place on Wednesday for the general SAA conference.

She also had 2 handouts: EAD 2002 Structural Model (proposed) and ISAD(G) 2nd edition and EAD 2002 that illustrated the proposed change to the EAD DTD. Last fall, the working group asked for comments to the structure and received 68 responses with many from outside the US addressing changes that would make EAD more compatible with ISAD(G). They met in April to discuss how these changes would be incorporated into EAD 2002. These changes include:

  • Addition of <langmaterial> Language of the material. This used to be an attribute but will now be an element in the <did>.
  • Addition of <matspec> Material Specific Details. Added to the <did>. This will be used when more detail is needed about the material such as map scales and architectural drawing scales.
  • <admininfo> and <add> will be eliminated and their major sub-elements will be made available directly in <archdesc> and <c>s.
  • Addition of <descgroup> Descriptive Group. Will be added as a sub-element of <archdesc> and <c>s. It may be used to group elements directly available in the <archdesc> and <c>s into logical groups or divisions, for example, "Administrative Information."
  • Addition of <originalsloc> Location of originals. Added as sub-element of <archdesc> and <c>s.
  • Addition of <phystech> Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements. Added to <archdesc> and <c>s. This helps in compliance with ISAD(G)
  • "sub-fonds" and "class" attributes will be added to "level" attribute on <archdesc> and <c>s.

The original plan was to have the new Tag Library and other documentation available by the end of the year. Now it will probably be the first part of the year before documentation is available on these changes. Daniel Pitti (University of Virginia) is making the changes and they will want to send the DTD to several institutions for implementation before it is released to the professional community.

Michael Fox, EAD Cookbook (Minnesota Historical Society)

This year his primary concern is moving the cookbook towards more institutional use rather than Michael Fox-ese. Sustainability is key. When he thinks about the cookbook he divides it into 3 sections: Documentation, Templates and Macros, and Style Sheets.


Encoding protocol. There is a need to move toward a "de facto standard". There is currently work being done to compare the various best practices and there is work being done by a grad student at UT-Austin to compare/contrast various standards. This is all in the works and perhaps in the next 6 months we will see a standard encoding practice begin to appear.

Templates and Macros

He is aware that there currently is a problem concerning the different versions of XMETAL that people are using. The cookbook was written to work with version 1.0 and now people are using 2.0 and 2.1. He plans to make macro files available for each version. Other issues whether or not he will continue support for Author/Editor 3.5. There doesn’t seem to be anyone new using the product and perhaps he will concentrate on XMetaL and WordPerfect.

Style Sheets

TARO (Texas Archival Resources Online) has been using the style sheets and has uncovered many problems. He envisions trying to make the style sheets even more modular. For example one of the most complicated (and longest) parts of the style sheets deals with the <dsc>. Perhaps have a pool of style sheets and ways to integrate the various parts ( Something like "Paste here, stupid").

He also wanted to respond to something Chris Prom (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) reported on in his session "Applying and Extending the EAD Cookbook" (from EAD Implementation: Strategies for the Rest of Us).

  • If you are having problems with display when using the cookbook, it could be because you are not following the cookbook protocol. If you don’t follow the directions, it won’t work. The style sheets in the cookbook are designed to be used with the cookbook protocol.
  • Please remember that the meta-tags at the beginning of the Cookbook help web-bots index the site. Without these meta tags, the finding aid could be hidden from search engines.
  • OCLC CORC software will harvest MARC from EAD.

Question from Daniel Pitti (University of Virginia) – He is thinking about offering an advanced EAD Style sheet class in connection with Rare Book School. Would there be interest? (Majority of hands went up in the room).

Question from Chris Prom (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign): - What about a repository for NoteTab clip Libraries? Or for Macros? (General agreement in room that this would be useful).

Question from Jim Cross (Clemson University): Is there a way to move around the order of the sections in the cookbook?
Answer from Michael Fox: Yes, you go into the style sheet and find template that lists all the sections. Simply change the order of these sections and it will change the order of your output.

Question from Chatham Ewing (Washington University – St. Louis): Is there anyone working on a publishing solution? I know that many people worked on DynaText and I am wondering if SAA or any institution is working with a vendor or other institution on developing an open source solution.
Answer from Daniel Pitti: There never was a partnership with DynaText or even Xmetal even though now both he and SAA teach with Xmetal because it is a good affordable product to use. Currently Brown University and IATH are beginning work on exploring an open source EAD solution but that development is a ways off. (It will take awhile)

Comment from Chris Prom: There is a need for a single solution. After his EAD session several people interested in possibly working on an open source solution (OSS) have approached him. Clay Redding from American Institute of Physics is going to set up a listserv to help start discussion on this issue. If anyone is interested, please let him know especially if you have programming experience in C or Java.

Tim Young (Yale University) decided this would be a good time to announce that he will be teaching a class in late October at the New England Archivists meeting that will focus on XML project planning issues.

Naomi Nelson thanked Michael Fox for all his work on the EAD Cookbook.

RLG Update

RLG has grown a lot this past year and currently has close to 24,000 full text finding aids from over 134 institutions. Finding aids are being submitted at a rate of about 1000 per month.

This year they hope to talk to the users of the finding aids and get more user input. They are planning on making all of their finding aids EAD 2002 compliant. To do this however, standardization is very important and they are interested in the work that is being done to compare best practices. Merrilee Proffitt of RLG has put together a working group to discuss this and everyone that she has asked has accepted. The group will begin meeting after the release of EAD 2002 and will include international representation. One thing they want to be able to do is be able to pinpoint where the problems are occurring in the implementation process.

RLG is also beginning to renegotiate with APEX. Please continue all feedback to her on experiences in using this company. They will work with APEX to make sure they are also working with EAD 2002.

Featured Speaker

"Does Size Really Matter? EAD Collaboration Among Small Institutions"

Kelcy Shepherd, Project Director, spoke about the Five College On-Line Finding Aids Access Project, one of the few collaborative EAD projects comprised solely of small archives. This project includes four private institutions and one public university in western Massachusetts: Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. These institutions already had an existing consortial relationship dating from the 1950s with the archivists of the Five Colleges meeting in the mid-1980s to create guidelines for the implementation of MARC-AMC. The Five Colleges were awarded a grant from the Mellon Foundation to:

  • Encode approximately 1200 finding aids using EAD.
  • Make these finding aids available via the web in a single, searchable union catalog.
  • Create a MARC record for each uncatalogued collection that will link to the online finding aid by using the 856 field or update existing catalog records to include the 856 field.
  • Establish a methodology that will be sustainable after the three-year project has ended.

Kelcy spoke about the specific experiences at the Five Colleges as a way of illustrating some of the challenges involved in EAD implementation. Although she felt that without the project, the archives could have encoded some of their finding aids, it is doubtful that they could have accomplished the numbers targeted in their grant. In addition, the grant has allowed the staffing and money to manage the project as well as support technical needs such as creating a searchable web interface for the finding aids.

Finally, Kelcy offered this final advice for the small repository struggling with EAD implementation: "Don’t get discouraged by comparing yourself with other larger institutions. You’re coming from different places, have different resources, and there will be different solutions for each situation."

For more information about the Five College Finding Aid Access Project, please contact Kelcy Shepherd, Project Director, at kshepher@library.umass.edu

Questions and Comments posed to Kelcy

At the end of her talk, Kelcy asked if there were any suggestions to help improve EAD implementation. Those suggestions included:

  • Open source tools
  • Increased standardization of encoding
  • Repository of style sheets, add-ons, and other tools

Other comments included:

From Gina Minks (University of Tulsa) Explore possible new training model. "Train the trainers" that would engender "SAA approved" trainers regionally to provide less expensive and more available training.

From Jim Cross (Clemson University): Need to stress content standards first and not let the technology overshadow the importance of the standard. A "Pre-EAD’ class

From Bill Landis (University of California – Irvine): He is really excited about the standardization. There needs to be more awareness in the profession about standards and description.

From Tim Young (Yale University): There is the Silent Issue – the standardization of finding aids. The process of EAD can make a better finding aid.

From Prudence Backman (New York State Archives): The more training that you can get out there the better especially for non- archivists. People also need to exploit their LSTA money for EAD or partner with institutions that have LSTA money.


Prior to the featured speaker, ballots were handed out and Naomi asked both nominees for the EAD RoundTable Chair-Elect position (Lisa Robinson, Assistant Digital Services Librarian – Michigan State University, and Gina Minks, Special Collections Librarian – University of Tulsa) to say a few words about why they wanted to be a part of the roundtable leadership. Tim Young has agreed to serve a webmaster for another year (this is an appointed/volunteer position).

New Business and Announcements

Kris Kiesling (University of Texas-Austin) reminded everyone to submit proposals for next year as she and Bill Landis (University of California – Irvine) are on the program committee.

Chris Prom (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) announced that the Open Archives Initiative as well as the Mellon Foundation are working on aggregating metadata. Anyone interested in having their site crawled should let him know. It is not necessary for the institution to have an OAI server for participation.

Stephen Miller closed the meeting by thanking attendees for coming to the meeting.