As I ponder this discussion (and urge people who wrote me privately to post
their collegial responses to the list), I'm reflecting upon what Elizabeth
said concerning the (inherent?) hierarchical nature of archives, and
therefore EAD. Her message has made me think about the "boundaries" of EAD
and what we are trying to do with it.
Her comment also sticks in my mind because I have often dealt with
single-series collections that are no less "archival" than those with
multiple series and subseries. I am reminded of one archival collection
that we deliberately chose not to do with EAD, but rather cataloged each
item individually (John Cage's music manuscripts). Based on traditional
library beliefs, we felt that this treatment would provide the best access
to the collection. While such cataloging generally suffices, nevertheless,
we have been frequently asked for finding aids (which we've never
produced), since researchers want to be able to survey the collection
chronologically (which is the arrangement of the collection) in broad
This suggests that hierarchical presentation (representing the physical
arrangement) is not the exclusive means by which researchers want to obtain
intellectual access to a collection. Ideally, it should be up to them to
decide how to access and arrange such information, no matter how we present
it. Practicality, however, generally leads us to choose one form of
presentation over another.
Perhaps I'm day-dreaming too much this afternoon, but another thought that
emerges from this discussion is why do we need to use EAD exclusively for
archival collections? My former coworker Terry Catapano once suggested to
a number of us at NYPL that EAD would be an exciting means to present
information such as subject guides/bibliographies for researchers wanting
to explore a topic. In that case, an EAD finding aid would be purely
intellectual, bringing together not just physically disparate but also
intellectual items for the benefit of researchers.
I guess I need to lower my caffeine intake....
Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D., Librarian
Music Division -- The New York Public Library
Listowner: [log in to unmask] ; [log in to unmask]
My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions.