Hello Collective Wisdom --

We have a collection of government archives on 157 microfilm reels.
Each reel has anywhere from 10-30 documents on it.  The paper finding
aid is nearly 500 pages and contains seven top-level divisions (e.g.,
"Secretariat reports").  Within each division, the guide lists each reel
and within each reel it lists each document, with dates, page count, and
a brief description.  The paper guide also includes a subject index; a
person and organization index; and a province index. Our goal is for
researchers to be able to find the information they need and request it
by reel and document number.

A full conversion of the paper finding aid to EAD would have some 3200+
items, nearly all at the c03 level.  Our thought is that scrolling
through 3000+ items on-screen is not the most user-friendly of
approaches, so we are considering creating the finding aid down to a
middling intellectual level and then linking out to pdf's for the
remaining levels as pdf's are easier to read and to print (and to
search).  It could be broken into separate documents, of course, perhaps
one per series, but that would mean treating it differently from all our
other finding aids which is not ideal either, and still makes a couple
of the documents very very long.

Then there is the question of the indexes.  The indexes give reel and
document number(s) as the locator(s) for each term, but the term itself
(for example, "Smith, John") often does not appear in the text of the
finding aid, so any linking from the index to the body of the inventory
would, at best, go to a document description or (one level higher) to a
reel description.

If anyone has dealt with a similar collection or issues in terms of
size or multiple indexes or deciding whether or not to link from indexes
or combining EAD with pdfs, I would appreciate any lessons learned or
thoughts on the best way to approach this.  (We're also going to consult
one or two researchers who have used the paper-based finding aid to see
how they approach it.)

Thanks --


Michele Rothenberger
Manuscripts Processor
Special Collections Research Center
Syracuse University Library
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244
(315) 443-2697