Dear Jennie, 

How are you?  Hope your summer is going well. I have been working to get
some Solinet books sent off and haven't gotten back to do much EAD.  I
will probably within another day, but I'll keep in touch and mail you
with lots (I'm sure) of questions--especially since I haven't worked
much lately.  

How about coming over some day for a refresher and all the treats
Princess Anne has to offer!  By the way, I m sort of looking for another
position, so if you hear of anything good, please let me know.

Truly yours,
Lois Peterson
Frederick Douglass Library
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Princess Anne, MD  21853

-----Original Message-----
From: Encoded Archival Description List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf
Of Jennie A. Levine
Sent: Tuesday, July 05, 2005 10:33 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Questions from a list lurker

I am resending this message because the list keeps rejecting it.  I hope
doesn't go through too many times!
:) Jennie

Dear Anna,
My replies are below. I'm happy to answer any questions you
may have.

>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 sort of automated request system built into
our EAD site.  Researchers can use either a web form, or
email, mail, telephone, or fax to contact us about a
collection that they've seen described on our website.  The
process for using the reading room is still as it was before EAD.

>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?

There are a large number of different types of solutions out
there.  We use a Microsoft Access database to key in the
finding aids, and then we had a programmer write a program to
convert the records in the database to EAD.  Our goal is to
get to the point where we are doing all the finding aid work
in the database, but right now, we are still typing them in
Microsoft Word and then cutting and pasting them into our
database when they're ready to be presented online. That's
just a workflow issue that we hope to resolve in the next year
or two.  In the long run, it's probably less time-consuming to
enter the finding aid into a database of some kind than in
something like Word.  Hand-coding is a different story.  That
is very time consuming and probably not a viable option if you
have a lot of finding aids and a lot of staff to train.

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

In my mind, there are quite a few benefits to EAD.  The first
is searchability.  It has been wonderful for us to be able to
search across finding aids for different keywords or
relationships in ways that would be much more difficult either
using only the paper versions, or even the Microsoft Word
versions.  A second benefit is one I have observed in our
institution - I think that writing finding aids with EAD and
searching and an online environment in mind has made us more
aware of our descriptions and caused us to think very
carefully about wording and how people might try to find our
materials.  For example, when testing our search capabilities,
 I realized that the finding aid for one of our older
collections, the papers of a politician from Maryland, did not
contain the word "politics" anywhere in the finding aid.
There were words like "Senate" and "Congress" and "Democrat,"
but nowhere was the word "politics" which is probably the
general term a researcher might use when looking for
collections.  So we've really started to think hard about
these things.

A third benefit is that (we hope) EAD will be a lasting
system.  Converting some of our finding aids to EAD can be a
third or fourth-generational change - from a handwritten
document to a typed document to a Word Perfect 5.1 document to
 a Microsoft Word document.  That's a lot of rekeying and
converting.  Our hope is that once we have everything in EAD
and in a database, it will be much easier to manage and
mass-migrate our finding aids into any format that might be

It's a lot of work in the beginning, but in the end I think it
will show real benefits.

Our site is at if you'd like
to see how it works in action!

Jennie A. Levine
Curator for Historical Manuscripts
Archives and Manuscripts Department
Hornbake Library
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
(301)314-2709 FAX
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