> >1. Once you have the finding aid available in EAD, how do researchers go
> >about requesting material? Is there a way to allow researchers to login to
> >the system and put in call slips for items they want to use in the reading
> >room? Or would you need a separate database to handle requests and issues?

We don't have any automated system.  Though I have thought for years that
someone would find a way to do this, I haven't seen it yet.  Here at the
YMCA Archives, the volume of requests for material is not really large
enough to justify developing something ourselves.

> >2. How time consuming is the work of creating the EAD finding aids as
> >compared to say creating the finding aid in a word processing package or
> >spreadsheet or database? Are there any packages available that allow the
> >process to happen more or less automatically or do staff have to key in all
> >the code?

I think I can offer a slightly different perspective than others have given
thus far.  Rather than converting from MS Word, Excel, or other programs,
at the YMCA Archives we encode directly into EAD, using XMetaL.   For
creating new finding aids, I find it is just as fast as creating it in MS
Word.  We use a template that has most of the tags for the collection-level
description already entered, so you just "fill in the blanks," and for the
container list we have macros that really speed up the insertion of the
tags in that section.  There is a learning curve, but I have been able to
teach student interns to encode basic finding aids using our XMetaL
template and macros in a couple of hours, so it's not that bad.

That said, I do think there is a lot to be said for using a database which
has EAD as one output, if you have that option (i.e. the budget to purchase
the software or the expertise to build it yourself).  The database approach
allows you to combine collection description information with other
collection management information.

> >3. What are the benefits for both researchers and the archives institution
> >in using EAD as opposed other methods of making finding aidsmore available?

Besides the things mentioned by others, I'll add

- EAD is a non-proprietary, plain text format.  It doesn't require any
specific software, like a database does, so there are fewer obstacles when
it comes to sharing information between repositories and migrating the
information to other platforms.

- EAD encoded finding aids are repurposeable.  You can take the same base
document and present it different ways by applying different stylesheets.

Lara Friedman-Shedlov
Kautz Family YMCA Archives
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lara D. Friedman-Shedlov
Kautz Family YMCA Archives
University of Minnesota Libraries
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