EAD Roundtable Meeting Minutes 2006

Thursday, August 3, 2006, Washington, D. C.

Incoming chair Michael Rush presided over the meeting as the current chair, Leslie Czechowski, was unable to attend.

The Program Committee solicited proposals from the roundtable for the 2007 SAA annual meeting in Chicago; proposals are due October 9 and may be submitted via email or Web form. Sections and roundtables can endorse up to 2 proposals. Members should contact Michael Rush with ideas for programs.


  • EAD Working Group: Kris Kiesling reported that the group had a quiet year. Schemas are being tested by the Schema Working Group subcommittee and others. French and Dutch archivists have proposed some changes to the EAD 2002 DTD; the working group is looking at the possibility of a new version, EAD 200x (no major changes are contemplated). The topic will be addressed at Sunday's Working Group meeting. Kiesling congratulated Rush, Czechowski, and Stephen Yearl for the recent redesign of the EAD Help Pages, and announced updates and changes as well to the official EAD website at the Library of Congress. She also announced that the Bundesarchiv in Berlin will be hosting a conference on EAD and EAC in April 2007.
  • NHPRC: Lucy Barber, the director for technology initiatives, announced that there would be a new grant opportunity in June for digitizing historical records; this is a new area for NHPRC. They will be funding up to three pilot projects, and are looking at cost-effective ways of digitizing entire series or collections; good ideas for access will be needed. The emphasis will be on the national significance of the objects. Proposals will be considered at the November meeting, and projects can start as early as January 2007.
  • TSDS: Chris Prom reported a slow year, after their initial comments on the inclusion of archival practices into Resource Description and Access (RDA), which will be replacing AACR2. In the upcoming year, TSDS is on the cusp of appointing an Encoded Archival Context (EAC) working group, which will be moving the beta version of EAC into a new standard. Funding for EAC for the next several years is being sought. The group is also working on a mechanism for the maintenance of DACS.
  • Archon Project: Prom also announced the release of this new tool developed by the University of Illinois. The software can be downloaded and should be installed on a PHP server. The product will be demonstrated at an afternoon session on Aug. 4.
  • SAA Council: Ben Primer offered help to the section as the SAA Council liaison.
  • RLG: Daniel Pitti reported for Anne Van Camp and Merrilee Proffit. OCLC and RLG have combined, effective June 1. RLG Programs remain intact and are very optimistic about the opportunities presented. Although RLG services are being integrated into OCLC's services, RLG Programs remain intact as a membership organization, and will be part of Research Programs at OCLC. RLG has an established reputation among archives, museums, and cultural institutions which is valued by OCLC, and more resources will be available for RLG initiatives, specifically EAC since OCLC has been looking at integrating authority databases around the world. They are keen on Archives Grid and will support it. They are also interested in archival gateways and archival access programs, promoting interoperability among descriptive standards, and best practices for special collection digitization.

EAD Help Pages

The SAA EAD Help pages have been updated and are now more visually appealing and standards-compliant. Institutions should update their repository descriptions by completing the questionnaire that has just come out on email. New content to the site includes an EAD bibliography which is not yet comprehensive. Still needed is an introduction to EAD (the "cocktail party" version), and a quick overview of issues.


Introductions were read for the candidates for Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect, who then made statements of their interests and possible plans for the section. These were Jennie A. Levine, curator of historical manuscripts at the University of Maryland Libraries; and Dan Santamaria, assistant university archivist for technical services at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University. After the ballots were counted, Levine was congratulated as winner.


Transfer of EAD 1.0 to EAD 2002

  • Transfer of EAD 1.0 to EAD 2002 was the topic of a roundtable discussion by Christine D. de Catanzaro (Georgia Tech), William W. Hardesty (Georgia State University in Atlanta), and Kate Colligan (Historic Pittsburgh). Each presenter addressed three topics: their goals for conversion, workflow during the process, and outcomes.
  • Goals: each institution wanted to do this necessary step quickly, but also achieve other goals concurrently. At Georgia Tech, it was a chance to establish descriptive practices and workflow issues: to avoid the necessity for separately exporting from their database HTML, XML, and print versions, each of which had to be tweaked separately. They needed to adopt standards, content and structure; they also wished to change stylesheets to update the appearance of the finding aids and of their website. At Georgia State, a complete revamping of the web site was desired; they also needed to comply with DACS and the RLG Best Practice guidelines. Not all descriptive work done for catalog records had made it into the finding aids. Pittsburgh was facing a DLXS upgrade which affected all databases. They also needed to move away from Emacs, and explore XML editors; oXygen was chosen, and they updated their stylesheets for side-by-side display. Control of the stylesheets now rests in their own hands. More finding aids are available directly, and they did a total overhaul of the local encoding guidelines.
  • Workflow: Georgia State created XML files using XMetal and put them directly on the web site. They looked at recent guidelines, and created template and content. Their systems office downloaded tools and customized Saxon, which was loaded on department workstations. The finding aids will be updated with new stylesheets. At Pittsburgh, conversion was done by the digital research library; the archives service center developed a template. First efforts were geared towards re-engineering, mapping tags from SGML to XML templates, using a Perl script in a few instances. They tested instructions on their student assistants, and revised their stylesheet. Georgia Tech received help from the systems department; they set up a conversion tool from help pages, adapted to suit their needs. They created a manual, and used tech-savvy students. They developed a new look for the website, adopting EAD cookbook style sheets. Conversion was completed over 5 months at a rate of 5 to 10 finding aids a week.
  • Outcomes: Pittsburgh’s transformation is nearly complete. Encoding workflow has been improved. Steps ahead in encoding include a draft version of guidelines and templates on the web, including a Perl script for Container List encoding. At Georgia Tech, the conversion is done; there is one master XML file for each finding aid; the appearance of the web site is updated, and finding aids are pretty much DACS compliant. At Georgia State, the finding aids are better and standards-compliant; the staff is more familiar with EAD. The same workflow is used for processing and finding aid creation. They strengthened their internal guidelines, and use templates.

EAD Schema

  • Daniel Pitti gave a progress report on the development of an official EAD Schema. The EAD Working Group received an NHPRC grant, partially to develop a schema based on the EAD 2002 DTD. The schema working group consisted of Pitti, Terry Catapano, Stephen Yearl, Chris Prom, Lee Mandel, Jerry MacDonough, and Francoise Bourdon (BNF). Objectives: the DTD is the authoritative version for determining interoperability. Nothing in the schema negates the DTD, with the exception that Xlink compatible elements are made compliant in schema namespace. Any that document that validates against the DTD will validate against the schema, but the inverse is not true. Schema allow stronger data typing than the DTD; some attribute values can be validated against the ISO standard normal attributes; these include country code, repository code, language code, script code, and dates. The XML namespace enables mixing components from other XML instances conforming to different schema. EAD can be expressed in METS, OAI, and TEI (P5 version). But for now, no components from other namespaces are permitted in EAD. Methods: the EAD 2002 DTD was transformed into RelaxNG schema using Trang. XLink and data typing are added, then the RelaxNG is transformed to W3C schema language. Both schemas will be made available. The group met once in spring 2005. The alpha schema was released for testing December 2005, and the beta schema is nearing completion. Element/attribute name translation were prototyped by Yearl and Catapano, as well as a combination of the Tag Library with the schema. The beta release date is end of August 2006, after adding a few more tests and documentation. Release of the schema will be announced on the EAD Listserv. This beta version should be used for testing only. Feedback is needed and welcome. Platforms which should be tested include oXygen, XML Spy, and standalone validators. What to expect: character entity references will produce errors (need to convert to character references); XLink tags will produce errors; and attribute values may fail. Will the next version of EAD move away from using a DTD? Time will tell.

–Recorded by Mary Lacy