EAD Roundtable Meeting
Guest author Maureen Callahan
The 2014 Encoded Archival Description Roundtable Annual Meeting was from 5:15 to 7:15 on August 13, 2014. It’s important to say at the outset that while this is a group that deals with archival description generally, procedures for EAD implementation, and how to integrate EAD with access systems, the focus of this particular meeting was pretty technical and had to do with the future of the standard. In short, this is a group of nerds deeeeep in the weeds. I’m going to do my best to give some degree of contextualization and explanation, and I’m available to answer questions in the comments. Also, all mistakes are mine alone. Please correct me if I’m being a dummy about something.
The meeting started with election announcements. Please congratulate Ruth Kitchin Tillman, co-chair; Monish Singh, steering committee member; and council liaison James Roth. Outgoing members include Mark Custer, outgoing co-chair; Regine Heberlein, outgoing steering committee member; and outgoing council liaison Bill Landis.
Next, Mike Rush from TS-EAD gave us an update about the release of EAD3. His slides are here, and they’re very informative. In short, EAD3 will be ready in early 2015. Since we’re now at the end of this process, there wasn’t a lot of discussion of why this revision is happening or what the major changes are. For that kind of information, I would suggest checking out the EAD Revision Points of Emphasis document.There will also be two upcoming opportunities to learn more — an SAA Webinar “EAD3: What’s new?” on October 23, 2014 and a preconference at DCMI — “DC 2014: Fonds and Bonds: Archival Tools, Metadata, Identity” on October 8, 2014 at The Harry Ransom Center, UT Austin.
Would you like to help the group? Right now, it sounds like the most useful thing an individual could do would be to send an example of an EAD3-encoded finding aid. Perhaps you’re a student who wants to get her arms around the standard. Perhaps you’re an archivist who wants to get a sense of what this standard change will mean for your repository. If you can find a couple of- hours to re-encode a finding aid in EAD3, it will be a HUGE HELP to the group (and to the profession!). EADivaand the canonical EAD3 resources are a good place to start with this process. Feel free to email your beautiful finding aid to Mike Rush or anyone else on TS-EAD.
Next, we heard from four EAD3 study groups. I found these reports particularly useful, because they helped me think about the steps required for a roadmap toimplementation. There are three groups — Conversion and Migration; Systems and Infrastructure (who have a survey out for EAD developers and consortia/aggregators, here); and Discovery and Data Quality. More information about their work is available in slides, here.
Kathy Wisser from the TS-EAC group gave an update next. I was particularly interested in her report about EAC-F, or encoded functions. Many of us may be new to the idea of encoding functions. Section 1.3 of ISAF, the content standard for encoding functions, makes a compelling and succinct case for their use:
Analysis of the functions of corporate bodies is important as the basis for many recordkeeping activities. Functions are recognised as generally being more stable than administrative structures, which are often amalgamated or devolved when restructuring takes place. Functions are therefore well suited to act as:
– a basis for the arrangement, classification and description of records
– a basis for the appraisal of records
– a tool for the retrieval and analysis of records.
So, while there is a content standard for describing functions, there is not yet an encoding standard. Wisser discussed a meeting of 20 participants who came together with about four draft schemata to talk about the next steps for encoding. All schemata were committed to compliance with ISDF and in line with priorities of EGAD (the group developing a conceptual model for archival description).
Moving on, Daniel Pitti gave the group an update on SNAC and plans for an international program to host the records of archival context. Most of what he discussed is available on the SNAC site itself. Obviously, this is sixteen kinds of amazing and will (I think) revolutionize the way research can happen. Instead of backing into record groups, researchers can start with the people and organizations that interest them. Pitti discussed the kinds of records currently in SNAC — the project started with MARC21 records of archival resources in WorldCat and a large corpus of name authorities from the British Museum. Next, SNAC will load records from the Smithsonian and New York State Archives, and will finally extract about two million EAC-CPF records from EAD that various institutions have sent.
From the floor, Merrillee Proffitt from OCLC gave some exciting updates about ArchiveGrid development — they’ve been doing some thinking about how to make various results/resources pages more actionable and contextualized (since, after all, despite our beautiful portal designs, most people don’t do their discovery searches at the portal page — they do them in major search engines, like google). She also announced that users of ArchiveGrid will be able to save results sets.
Ruth Kitchin Tilliman announced that the EAD3 subsite on EADiva is now available — check it out!
And finally, we all recreated this gem of a photo, from the original EAD creation group: