Thought you might like to see this. Very interesting timescales, eh?

-----Original Message-----
From: Brad Westbrook [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 25 January 2001 23:18
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Encoding Options (Database vs. XML editors)

Hi, Kelcy,

In 1993 the Mandeville Special Collections Library at UCSD used FoxPro dbms
to create a relational database application for processing archives and

Overall the process took about two years to complete, from start to finish.
There were three primary areas or sub-processes.  Building the
database--defining the tables, their relationships,
various routines, and input / query templates--was completed in about 5
months, with a few months after that spent in adjusting and refining.  The
database application, started in August of 1993, was moved into production
in February of 1994.  Transferring existing descriptive data from word
processing files to database records took all of two years to complete.
Narrative sections of finding aids were easily cut and pasted into the
database records, but inventory lists had to be rekeyed.  The former was
done by the associate archivist, and he directed students in doing the
latter.  Finally, three months or so at the end of the 24 were spent in
developing report forms that would output the descriptive data in EAD, in
HTML, in ASCII, and in print.  We still provide these four "flavors," but
are working on reducing the three electronic flavors to one--EAD XML.

The interfaces of the database is very easy to use, and provides two levels
of access--one for the archivists and one for the staff / student inputters.
All collection level description--that is, the narrative preliminaries--is
done by full-time staff, whereas the inventory descriptions are input by
students.  Management of the application--deletion of records, modification
of edit templates and reports forms, etc.--is done only by the archivists.
The templates ensure a certain amount of data consistency, and they have
reduced some of our training costs.  We used to have to train students in to
the overall composition of a finding aid, but that is no longer necessary as
finding aid construction is now done by the application.

The encoding routines are quick, almost completely transparent, and easy to

The database application also makes it easier for us to collect certain
kinds of managerial information such as how many linear feet were
accessioned for a specified time period, how many linear feet were
processed, how many accessions were MARC cataloged, etc.

The original database, still in use, was constructed using FoxPro 2.6 for
Windows.  We are currently in the process of upgrading it to Visual FoxPro.

I hope some of this answers some of your questions.  If you have any other
questions, please ask.

Congratulations on the new position!!  We all know it is going to be lots of

Brad W.

Bradley D. Westbrook
Manuscripts Librarian / University Archivist
Mandeville Special Collections Library 0175S
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA  92093-0175

Tel:  858-534-6766
Fax: 858-534-5950

Email: [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>

----- Original Message -----
From: Kelcy Shepherd <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, January 25, 2001 1:54 PM
Subject: Encoding Options (Database vs. XML editors)

I am hoping for some feedback on methods for encoding finding aids in EAD.
After reading through the EAD Sites Annotated, it is clear that there is no
one best encoding solution! The recent changes in the availability of
software for these types of project further complicates the choice.

We are starting a three year EAD project that involves five institutions,
and will encompass both conversion of legacy finding aids and the creation
of new ones. Four of the five institutions are currently using Word or
WordPerfect to create finding aids. Of these, two also have some
collection-level description in a database format (InMagic and Minaret) but
neither of these use the database for complete finding aids. One institution
generates complete finding aids for all of its collections from a database
(Minaret). We would like to utilize the same encoding method for new finding
aids at all institutions. Obviously, a tool that would also help to automate
the conversion process would be ideal.

The lack of off-the-rack archival management databases with EAD export
features leaves us with the choice of creating a database for the project or
customizing one of the XML editing programs. The systems department here may
be moving toward the use of Oracle, so unless someone out there has an
Oracle db they'd like to share, we would be looking at developing a brand
new database. Given these options, my question are:

For those of you out there who developed a custom database, how long did the
process take? For those using an editing package, how long did it take to
customize the software for ease of use?

For both scenarios, are you producing other formats in addition to EAD (i.e.
print, HTML)? Is the interface simple enough for a student to do data entry?

Given the status of our legacy finding aids, can anyone speak to which
options would be most useful in the conversion process?

And, as long as I've got your attention, is anyone creating MARC records
from the encoding analogs in EAD?

General comments regarding encoding methods would also be welcome. Thanks
for the help.

-Kelcy Shepherd
Kelcy Shepherd
Director, Five College On-Line Finding Aids Access Project
Special Collections & Archives
W. E. B. Du Bois Library
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9275
Phone:  413.545.6844

This message has been checked for all known viruses, by Star Internet,
delivered through the MessageLabs Virus Control Centre.
For further information visit: <>

This message has been checked for all known viruses, by Star Internet,
delivered through the MessageLabs Virus Control Centre.
For further information visit: