Michele, Penn State's EAD finding aids are done using both a
and c. For the collections that I process (and for legacy
paper finding aids), I create the EAD finding aid directly
in XMetaL. for collections processed by staff and student
assistants in Special Collections, they write their
narrative portions in Word and enter the box and folder
contents in an Access database. I cut and paste the Word
files into XMetaL and run a conversion from Access to EAD
tags then incorporate that output into the XMetaL file. I
am the dedicated encoder, and manuscripts cataloger.
Until someone else is willing to learn EAD, or we are able
to automate the conversion with the new database we are
designing, I find the current system works well enough. As
long as the staff and students properly assign folders to
their correct series, and the conversion orders the output
correctly, the container list portion requires about a half
day of cleanup (inserting commas between the folder title
and the date, deleting the date tag when there is no date).
The worst cleanup is when the conversion reorders the boxes
and folders (Box 1 Folder 1, Box 2 Folder 1, Box 3 Folder 1,
or in some illogical order--instead of Box 1 Folder 1, Box 1
Folder 2, Box 1 Folder 3, or alphabetically by
correspondent) and I have to cut and paste a lot of these
entries. Also, they need to write the narrative correctly,
separating the components into discrete sections (not
mushing provenance into scope and content, nor calling an
arrangement note the scope and content note).
So, as you may imagine, I much prefer to create the finding
aid directly in XMetaL but I don't have the inclination to
write everyone's finding aids for them. In the last six
months, after receiving several messy and incomplete finding
aids, I've refused to spend days cleaning them up, or
writing the missing components, and have returned them to
the unit head with instructions on what is missing and what
needs to be fixed. I can tell that something is wrong when
I run the conversion and the first tagged file items display
without a box or folder number, and/or are not part of a
series. Rather than spending hours trying to decipher where
they actually belong, I simply report back that this finding
aid needs specific work to make it EADable.
> Hello -- another question, this one regarding process of
> encoding finding aids. I'm interested in (a) who does the
> encoding and (b) at what point in the process the encoding
> is done. For example, I can see at least three options
> right off the bat:
> a) finding aids are originally written in EAD using
> authoring software (e.g. XMeTaL)
> b) finding aids are written in regular form (MSWord, etc)
> and then encoded at the end by the processor
> c) finding aids are written in regular form (MSWord, etc)
> and then encoded at the end by a dedicated encoder (either
> in-house or out-sourced)
> How do most people do it? What pitfalls have you
> encountered with the way you chose?
> Any and all information is appreciated. We're
> investigating starting this process and would like to
> benefit from combined wisdom as much as possible!
> Michele Rothenberger
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