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EAD  February 2010

EAD February 2010

Subject:

Re: Long finding aids

From:

"Custer, Mark" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Encoded Archival Description List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 8 Feb 2010 09:52:01 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (175 lines)

http://books.google.com/books?id=-vbTkMuU9NkC&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q=&f=false

The above link is essentially what I'd like a centralized repository of EAD to offer (at least, something along these lines, w/o the sponsored links, of course).  That is, an easy to use, extremely long, AJAX-y, loads-as-you-need-it view (that still works even w/o javascript, albeit in a severely less interactive manner).

Perhaps the merger of AT and Archon can begin to address the issues over how to display extremely long finding aids (or, as you put it so nicely, Jennie, these "monster[s] waiting in the wings")?  It's too big of a question for each individual repository to grapple with on their own, I'd think.


Mark



-----Original Message-----
From: Encoded Archival Description List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jennie Levine Knies
Sent: Monday, February 08, 2010 9:23 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Long finding aids

I have found this discussion interesting, because this is something we 
have also grappled with for a long time. Because I didn't want to fool 
with breaking up a finding aid, we have gone ahead and mounted our 
largest ones in full, with the hopes that peoples' home connections, 
etc. would eventually be able to handle it.  Our largest to date (Spiro 
Agnew papers - http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1744 - is about 5.2 MB. We 
had a lot of discussions about breaking it up, but in this case, the 
largest subseries really is the bulk of the finding aid, so there never 
seemed to be a logical place to split it. We did some user studies a few 
years back showing that users did like to scroll and skim (for a while, 
we experimented with a more fragmented view of our finding aids, and, if 
anything, it was frustrating to staff who were used to being able to 
scroll through a browser window.  Since we don't have a very advanced 
internal search or discovery feature, simple scrolling seems to be the 
best option for now.

HOWEVER, we have a monster waiting in the wings.  We have a photograph 
collection that is currently described in an Access database.  Initial 
tests of the size of making the finding aid for the first series of this 
collection puts it in the 10 MB range. If we add the second series, I 
think we're talking more like 25MB. We had a project in the works, which 
has dwindled due to lack of staff time at present, to experiment with 
ways to make this collection viewable and understandable from within the 
confines of an EAD-encoded finding aid.  Since the collection is 
basically an alphabetical list of biographical and subject headings, we 
had thought of creating alternate displays that might allow the user to 
limit or sort in ways that would be more manageable.  It is something I 
would really like to revisit sometime soon and address, as we really 
would like to make this collection's finding aid available online. For 
example, in the biographical series, each heading also has a "category" 
(like "actress" or "athlete"). We were exploring the idea of putting 
these terms into <controlaccess> subject tags within each <c0x> and then 
developing a style sheet that would allow users to click to limit the 
finding aid by each broad category.  I think we were almost there, and I 
still have the files... somewhere... but we got pulled into something 
else and never finished it.

Has anyone else played around with the idea of offering different 
displays to make the user experience more interactive?

Jennie
~*~
Jennie Levine Knies
Manager, Digital Collections
2216 Hornbake Library
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
(301)314-2558 TEL (301)314-2709 FAX
[log in to unmask] E-MAIL
http://www.lib.umd.edu/digital

Custer, Mark wrote, On 2/7/2010 4:13 PM:
> Hi Jennifer,
> 
>  
> 
> How long is long?  The biggest finding aid that we currently have is 
> still under 3 MB, and I wouldn't want to break it up (at least not the 
> canonical view of that page/finding aid).  I personally like to equate a 
> single finding aid with one (possibly) long scroll (but I understand the 
> opposing view as well, and I nevertheless think that some delivery 
> options will change if EAC gains widespread adoption).  Of course, I'm 
> sure that there are EADs out there that easily exceed what most email 
> clients would permit as an email attachment, so those might have other 
> concerns.
> 
>  
> 
> One of the reasons that I like the "single scroll" approach, though, is 
> because I often access finding aids straight from an external search 
> engine (and it's much easier to figure out where I land if everything's 
> contained therein).  The flipside of this, though, is that those very 
> same search engines only index up to a certain, set limit (I've seen 
> past quotes as low as 150 KB, but I just did a quick, informal test, and 
> both Google and Bing have indexed one of our finding aids up very close 
> to the 1 MB milestone; but after that, there's nothing).  So, I wouldn't 
> expect Google to index everything (and researchers, of course, would 
> need to make use of the tools that we provide at the site level anyhow), 
> and it just goes back to the fact that it's best to have a finding aid 
> with an excellent, narrative description.  Alternatively, I wouldn't use 
> the "search engine index-limit" as an argument for breaking up the 
> traditional view of a finding aid, since I'm sure that there are 
> container list series out there that also exceed that limit (in short, I 
> wouldn't try to break everything up just so that you think that 
> everything will be indexed by a search engine). 
> 
>  
> 
> If delivery/size is an issue, though, my guess is that it would be 
> advisable to follow Yale's route if you want to separate the finding aid 
> (that way, you wouldn't always have to create multiple EAD files for a 
> single collection; you'd just be portioning out the sections that you 
> define).
> 
>  
> 
> This begs the question:  what's the biggest EAD online right now (and 
> wouldn't it be nice if there were an easy way to figure this out)?  The 
> largest one that I know of is for the Hugh Morton collection at UNC:  
> http://www.lib.unc.edu/ncc/pcoll/P0081/P0081.html  (it's HTML version is 
> getting close to 8 MB, and it still has a long way to grow before it's 
> complete).
> 
>  
> 
>  
> 
> Mark Custer
> 
>  
> 
>  
> 
> *From:* Encoded Archival Description List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] *On 
> Behalf Of *Betts, Jennifer
> *Sent:* Friday, February 05, 2010 4:28 PM
> *To:* [log in to unmask]
> *Subject:* Long finding aids
> 
>  
> 
> Hello all,
> 
>  
> 
> Are there any repositories out there who are separating long finding 
> aids into separate EAD files?  If so, would you mind sharing your 
> documentation of that process?  I have an idea of how we might do it, 
> but would like to see how other repositories are handling this.
> 
>  
> 
> Best wishes,
> 
>  
> 
> Jennifer
> 
>  
> 
> * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
> 
> Jennifer J. Betts
> 
> RIAMCO Project Manager
> John Hay Library, Box A
> 
> Brown University
> 
> Providence, RI  02912
> 
> E-MAIL:  [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
> 
> TEL:  (401) 863-2148
> 
>  
> 

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