We have similarly large EAD finding aids, which do sometimes cause a
problem for researchers and staff who "land" in the middle of them. Some of
them are box/folder headings; box/reel; box/folder #. Some are box/folder
with reel/frame references in the folder headings, also in <physdesc>
To further complicate matters, many of our collections are housed in cubic
foot cartons, making some of the folder lists particularly looooong.
But whatever the chosen container....I certainly can't think of a solution,
short of two different finding aids - long version, short version!
For example, check out:
These two examples, however, include series arranged alphabetically, thus,
enhancing the access points. It is much more problematic for collections
having chronologically arranged series, with supporting appendices, as in:
These are the ones that users tend to get "lost" in.
The PDF file sounds interesting, but would it really solve the problem??
Chief, Collections Processing
Archives of American Art
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>>> [log in to unmask] 08/17/06 11:20PM >>>
Jennie, hi -
I urge you to put together a MARAC session called "Elegant and Seamless"
- make it a discussion session with some invited leaders to guide
brainstorming over issues of length, hierarchies, stylesheets,
navigation, etc. We all share the pain of large collections and complex
finding aids. :-)
Rebecca (reading from home where I dare not open your Agnew file)
Jennie A. Levine wrote:
> I would be interested in responses to this as well, just as a point of
> We've had several similar scenarios and dealt with each one differently.
> We have one collection where we try to show both box and reel locations
> by putting the reels and frames in the <physdesc> tag in the <c02> and
> <c03> levels as appropriate. I don't know how "right" that is, but that
> worked with our style sheet. The Guide to the Papers of Djuna Barnes
> has about 2200 "rows"
> (for example)
> I do think that is difficult to read on a screen, or even on a printout,
> and not lose your place. We are working on revising our style sheets to
> be more hierarchical in display to "solve" this problem (it's pretty
> cool so far, actually, and I hope we'll be able to show people live in a
> month or so - it's similar to the James Madison Carpenter Finding Aid
> found here - http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/carpenter/browse.html), and
> maybe change the print versions to list things like Series and Subseries
> next to each item so that people can tell quickly where they are.
> Our Papers of Spiro T. Agnew guide is over 12,000 "rows" (only open if
> you are certain of your browser stability and Internet connection...)
> Series III, Subseries 5, which is even difficult to navigate to in our
> current stylesheet, is a PDF, just to try to keep the finding aid from
> crashing people's browsers. (You can do a "find" for "Subseries 3.5: to
> find the link).
> I really dislike the way we had to handle this - it just feels awkward
> to me. It wasn't too hard to make the PDF since all of our EAD data is
> in database form, but still it was an extra step I'd like to avoid! And
> I have seen other posts on this listserv with questions about elegant
> and seamless ways to break up finding aids and am not sure if anyone
> came up with any answers? If they did, I'd love to know!
> So, I don't have any answers - but I share your pain and am interested
> in solutions people might have.