The intention of EAD is to privilege the description of the structure of archival materials rather than the physical order in which such materials are stored. EAD is not intended to create a shelf list.
There are two key (and certainly other) reasons for this. EAD-encoded descriptions primarily are tools for user resource discovery and only secondarily devices for staff management of storage locations or the facilitation of record retrieval, though these certainly are important secondary uses for descriptions. This is all the more evident when the description is consulted away from the repository's reading room.
The description of the content, arrangement, and interrelationships among the various components of a body of archival materials is a core function of archival work. This is what we do for the benefit of our users. It is what they are interested in. Packaging is our problem. Boxes are not the components of archival collections. Physical location is a property of and a useful bit of information to know about our collections but not fundamental to the discovery or understanding of them.
The second reason is simply practical. If one emphasizes storage location in description, what happens when they change, or more problematically, when materials are rehoused or reformatted? The fundamental characteristics of the materials would not change but one would be faced with an enormous task of restructuring the descriptions.
This is why <container> is a child of the <did> element and not the parent.
From: Encoded Archival Description List [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of
Sent: Monday, October 18, 2004 9:51 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Two <head>'s under one roof
When implementing EAD for finding aids for manuscript/archive collections,
does the structure of the finding aid more often reflect the intellectual
organization of a collection or does it reflect the physical organization?
It seems to me from my initial (thus far brief) study of EAD that the
structure of the finding aid needs to match the structure of the physical
collection, otherwise elements like CONTAINER aren't really very useful,
right? On the other hand, if one makes the FA structure match the physical
collection, a library's FAs are likely to be inconsistent since different
collections are organized different ways. Is this a problem? Thoughts on
this that might help guide a novice?
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