Please forgive me for a slightly off-topic question. My institution is in the early stages of setting up a music archive. It will contain a combination of physical artifacts (memorabilia, musical instruments), books and printed music, and sound recordings in various formats. We (the library) will be pushing to have as much of the collection as possible digitized in some way--photographs of artifacts, scanning manuscripts, sound files, etc—though a lot of the music is commercially produced and cannot be made available digitally. We hope to hire an archivist to process the collection and I intend to make the case for requiring an EAD encoded finding aid.
My question for the group, then, is can anyone suggest any good software that can deal well with a mix of digital content and surrogate records? Something that will provide immediate access to digital content and an appropriate record or pointer for items that are not available online? There’s been some talk about doing traditional library cataloging for the collection, but most of us (including me and our other cataloger) are agreed that that really does not do an archive justice, especially since it hides the records from search engines and would make searching just that archive difficult for a lone researcher who did not know our system. We’re not yet at the point of saying we want a single piece of software for the internal processing and administration stuff as well as the public-facing discovery tool, but I tend to think if we can get something that does it all, that will make things simpler since we will not be able to have dedicated software folks to provide support.
Also, (more on topic) when dealing with an item-level search, how often is EAD providing the metadata? I realize that EAD can handle item specific description. Are many (or any) software packages using EAD as the primary mechanism for that, or do they tend to repackage the data or require a second “cataloging” of the item in the software itself, outside of EAD entirely?