I want to add a few comments to the discussion between Michael Fox and
various members of Harvard's Digital Finding Aids Project group on the
treatment of physical location of materials in EAD. I'd like to present
our point slightly differently, in case it wasn't evident from the earlier
postings why this issue of physical location is such a problem for us.
1. We have a rather large body of old printed finding aids which require
EAD encoding retrospectively (on the order of 14,000).
2. We did not traditionally record the physical location of materials
in many of these finding aids. Or else the information is there somewhere,
but not as part of the series or folder description as is commonly
3. The addition of any information to old finding aids that isn't there
now does, in fact, require work, despite our having a nice editing
environment so that we don't have to key in pointy angle brackets, etc.
Adding a <container> element with varying content to every item in up to
14,000 finding aids is a LOT of work, since it couldn't really be done
automatically using macros. Changing our current practice is certainly
an option, and has been done in many cases, but additional keying simply
isn't an option for retrospective conversion on this scale.
4. Since we have not consistently recorded the physical location of
materials in the archives, we would probably not design our retrieval
system around the assumption that this is useful information for our
users... In fact, since one major goal of this work is to eventually
digitize these collections for online retrieval, it seems to me that we
very often _wouldn't_ want to tell folks where to find the stuff in the
archives... it's just a click away, right?
5. For retrospective conversion the only thing that makes sense to me is
to markup physical location information in our findings aids in the way it
was originally intended... as secondary, extraneous, notational
information (i.e. a note) when it occurs in a series description. And the
easiest way to do that given the current DTD is with an <odd> element:
"The <odd> element is primarily used to accomodate existing
finding aids that have been converted into EAD but whose information
components may not be divided into the distinct categories that have been
named as elements in EAD..."
6. But the <odd> isn't currently defined to be available in a reasonable
way in the <c>, hence our request for a change. We don't want a "floating"
element at all, we just want the <odd> available in a <c> either before or
after any nested <c>s, instead of just before nested <c>s as it is currently
We want to do this:
<c> series info
<c> folder info
and if the DTD isn't changed, our only alternative is this:
<c> series info
<c> folder info
Not the end of the world, sure, but yuck! I don't think this an
unreasonable, or even major request, given that we all want to
integrate our old and new finding aids with a minimum of fuss and
MacKenzie Smith [log in to unmask]
Digital Library Projects Manager phone: (617)495-3724
Office for Information Systems fax: (617)495-0491
Harvard University Library %\%\%\%\%\%\%\%\%\%\%\%\%\%