If it would be helpful at all to have the xml file, I'd be happy to send it,
or the html.  

The PDF is certainly intriquing!  Up to this point, we've been
"Cookbook"ing it!  which we like and have established a good work flow with 
XML/XSL/HTML; but we've just started using a database and programming to
dump the XML data into, so we now are feasibly able to explore other or
enhanced means of display.  We're using the same database to link the
digital files for collections that will digitized in full (stay tuned to
Breuer, because you will soon be able to link to the digitized microfilm via
the finding aid).  Of course, only a percentage of our collections will be
fully digitized, so the display/searching/getting lost issue within the
other finding aids will still be relevant. 

Barbara Aikens
Chief, Collections Processing
Archives of American Art
Smithsonian Institution
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>>> [log in to unmask] 08/18/06 09:11AM >>>
Thanks so much for the link to the Breuer collection -- I will pass it
on to the others working on this problem.  This is wonderful to be able
to see a full example of a finding aid to a large microfilm collection. 
I'd estimate ours is about 25% larger so this gives us a good idea of
how it would look if we chose to go the fully-EAD route.

As to whether pdf's will solve the problem -- depends on what one sees
as the problem :)  For me, the problem is that long files presented on
the web aren't pleasant/easy for researchers to use.  They don't print
nicely, are not very searchable (apart from the rudimentary CTRL-F), and
are easy to get lost in.  Our thought was that pdf's would solve these
problems as they print beautifully and provide a nicer/more powerful
search function, plus offer pagination which makes it easier to keep
track of where you are.  In addition, the indexes can be placed in the
EAD but the locators can be links to specific pages in the pdf file; to
my mind, this enhances the usefulness of the indexes because despite an
abbreviated finding aid, the user could still go from the index to the
exact spot, in context; plus it will allow the user to have the index
and the full file open at the same time if desired, something that you
couldn't do if the entire finding aid were in a single EAD document.

If the problem is that of huge finding aids in general -- you're right,
this doesn't really solve it, it just massages it into a slightly
different form, alas!


>>> [log in to unmask] 8/18/2006 8:06 AM >>>

It is much more problematic for collections
having chronologically arranged series, with supporting appendices, as

These are the ones that users tend to get "lost" in.  

The PDF file sounds interesting, but would it really solve the