We've been using <scopecontent> for this, after the same confusing forays into <abstract> and <note> that you mention. EAD has a few too many confusing options that all seem plausible, but will definitely gum up the works in any future union database construction attempts if everyone in the world takes a different approach.
My main arguments against the other two possibilities:
<note> is, as you say, too broad and generic, and the TL definition specifically says "not used when more specific content designation elements are appropriate," which certainly seems to be the case here.
<abstract> is less easy to dismiss as a possibility, especially since the TL definition's second paragraph seems to fudge on its use at different levels of description. What I've come up with as a guiding principle for us on this is twofold:
1) An abstract is usually an abstract of something else that is available to consult. In this case, if you use an <abstract> when there is no expanded <scopecontent> to consult, it seems to me to violate the spirit of what an abstract is. When we use it at the <archdesc> level, at least according to the Online Archive of Calif. Best Practice Guidelines, it is an <abstract> of a more extensive <scopecontent> at that same level (usually the collection/ fonds/recordgrp level) and is aviailable mainly for quick, convenient consultation and decision-making by an end user (e.g., "do I really want to explore the rest of this lengthy finding aid, or can I tell from this abstract that I'm not likely to find information in this collection on the topic I'm researching?")
2) If you don't buy that argument, the fallback for me is that Abstract is not a formal element of archival description as enumerated in the international standard, ISAD(G). So using it *instead of* rather than *as a supplement to* another, ISAD(G)-specified descriptive element seems like bad encoding practice to me.
Hope that helps!
Stephanie Ashley wrote:
> I'd like to get confirmation of how other people are dealing with component notes in their EAD encoding. I'm referring to short descriptions that come after a folder title, for example, that you feel are necessary to provide details about the folder contents, such as
> Correspondence, 1945-1967 (includes letters from Henry Miller)
> Correspondence, 1968-1980 (includes signed photographs of the artist)
> We have a lot of this in our "legacy" finding aids that we're converting retrospectively and some of the notes are considerably longer than this. Is <scopecontent> the best way to encode such information? I don't want to use <note> because it's so broad, but <abstract> within the <did> is also an option.
> If we go with <scopecontent>, we have some more work to do with our style sheets because it's unable to differentiate between the lower level <scopecontent> notes and the higher level ones, so I'd like to get some confirmation that this is the way to go before we put too much time into tweaking them. Any thoughts?
> Stephanie Ashley
> Project Archivist
> Archives of American Art
> Smithsonian Institution
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