Following on from Sigfrid's email, I thought I would also present an
example of a successful search engine for EAD finding aids that we use
at the University of Liverpool.
At the University of Liverpool, we have undertaken a project to create
electronic finding aids for the University Archives. After converting
many of our old lists (written using MSWord) into EAD, we have been
editing and creating new EAD records using Xemacs Open Source Text
Xemacs has proved to be an excellent tool for editing and creating EAD
from scratch. We have found Xemacs very easy to use and incredibly
stable (it hasn't crashed yet!).
That's the EAD creation and editing dealt with, to deliver our EAD
finding aids we have used, the Cheshire for Archives software, developed
as part of the JISC funded Archives Hub project. This software allows
searching and display of our finding aids via a web-browser, and via an
in-built z39.50 server.
This software uses the cheshire information retrieval system
(http://cheshire.berkeley.edu), which is used by a variety of other text
retrieval initiatives such as:
Resource Discovery Network http://www.rdm.ac.uk
Information Environment Service Registry http://www.iesr.ac.uk
A new version of Cheshire (cheshire3) has recently been developed by
teams in Liverpool and Berkeley, and we are eagerly awaiting a new and
improved version of the archive search and display interface based on
this new technology.
The Cheshire for Archives software provides us with direct control over
our EAD records and provide a user interface to search the archival
collections. It enables searching to component level and
provides an interactive table of contents to full EAD lists.
Thanks to Cheshire's indexing system, we can provide mutliple search
options, such as:
Name (geographical, personal or corporate)
Title of collection
Users can use a quick search (this brings back matching EAD lists) or
advanced search that brings back results that go to item level. Our
collections are often interconnected so being able to search across them
all is a big bonus.
The software allows the user to browse through index terms extracted
from our records. The subject resolver is another innovative and useful
tool. Subject based research enquiries are common in University archives
(often with students desperately trying to find a juicy dissertation
topic). The subject resolver allows a user to find appropriate
controlled access headings via a natural language query, without any
prior knowledge of controlled vocabularies.
Apart from the search options the spoke also provides us with other
seemingly more trivial options that will help our users. Things like
the easy to use print buttons, that offer the choice to print the
results of a search. Although this seems a minor inclusion it allows
users to print out entire lists, sections of lists, or even
individual items that will be of use to them.
As well as providing a tool to search our archival collections, the
Cheshire for Archives software also lets us become part of something
bigger, and allows our EAD files to be searched through a distributed
national archival database, The Archives Hub
Our server is linked to the central Archives Hub server, which harvests
metadata from our spoke, and allows searching of our, and many other
repositories', archival holdings in real-time. This new distributed
version of the Archives Hub is scheduled to be launched in July.
It is great to be able to use a system that allows us complete authority
over our own EAD records, whilst still providing nationwide access to
descriptions of our collections.
Special Collections and Archives
Sydney Jones Library
University of Liverpool
PO Box 123
tel: 0151 794 2696
Search our archive collections at: