That sounds like an excellent idea for a panel either at SAA or at 
MARAC.  Or even just a big discussion/brainstorming session.  Anyone 
interested in thinking about it?  :)

Another aspect to all of this (at least for us) is wondering where the 
entry point will be to users entering our site from, say, Google, and 
making sure they can understand where they are.  Since we don't *really* 
know how Google searches, although it seems to do some sort of link 
following, we can hope that finding aids such as the Carpenter one I 
mentioned earlier will be indexed by virtue of links being followed and 
picking up different "views" of a given finding aid.  This is something 
I want to experiment with a little more.

I also wonder if anyone has any experience with something like XSL-FO, 
which supposedly allows you to create fairly sophisticated print 
versions of your finding aid, or to easily create PDFs from your XML 
file.  I haven't tried to play around with Michael Fox's EAD to XSL-FO 
( - 
has anyone else?  I'm adding that to my "to do" list.

I may be getting sort of off-topic here - it's hard to stay on topic 
because there are so many interesting "problems" here.


L Rebecca Johnson Melvin wrote:
> Jennie, hi -
> I urge you to put together a MARAC session called "Elegant and Seamless" 
>  - make it a discussion session with some invited leaders to guide 
> brainstorming over issues of length, hierarchies, stylesheets, 
> navigation, etc.  We all share the pain of large collections and complex 
> finding aids. :-)
> Rebecca  (reading from home where I dare not open your Agnew file)
> Jennie A. Levine wrote:
>> Michele,
>> I would be interested in responses to this as well, just as a point of 
>> discussion.
>> We've had several similar scenarios and dealt with each one 
>> differently. We have one collection where we try to show both box and 
>> reel locations by putting the reels and frames in the <physdesc> tag 
>> in the <c02> and <c03> levels as appropriate.  I don't know how 
>> "right" that is, but that worked with our style sheet.  The Guide to 
>> the Papers of Djuna Barnes has about 2200 "rows"
>> (for example)
>> I do think that is difficult to read on a screen, or even on a 
>> printout, and not lose your place. We are working on revising our 
>> style sheets to be more hierarchical in display to "solve" this 
>> problem (it's pretty cool so far, actually, and I hope we'll be able 
>> to show people live in a month or so - it's similar to the James 
>> Madison Carpenter Finding Aid found here - 
>>, and maybe change 
>> the print versions to list things like Series and Subseries next to 
>> each item so that people can tell quickly where they are.
>> Our Papers of Spiro T. Agnew guide is over 12,000 "rows" (only open if 
>> you are certain of your browser stability and Internet connection...)
>> Series III, Subseries 5, which is even difficult to navigate to in our 
>> current stylesheet, is a PDF, just to try to keep the finding aid from 
>> crashing people's browsers.  (You can do a "find" for "Subseries 3.5: 
>> to find the link).
>> I really dislike the way we had to handle this - it just feels awkward 
>> to me. It wasn't too hard to make the PDF since all of our EAD data is 
>> in database form, but still it was an extra step I'd like to avoid! 
>> And I have seen other posts on this listserv with questions about 
>> elegant and seamless ways to break up finding aids and am not sure if 
>> anyone came up with any answers? If they did, I'd love to know!
>> So, I don't have any answers - but I share your pain and am interested 
>> in solutions people might have.
>> Jennie

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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