I think we certainly still need finding aids - the biggest worry I have in the LD world is that we lose the essence of archival theory, which is collections (and items) in context. One thing we need to preserve is not just the ability to be able to find items, but also to view the relationship between the items and their creator. Linked data shouldn't take this away, but instead enable tons of additional relational data (to other collections, creators, and concepts). I think the place of the finding aid in the future should be as one access point, instead of as the only access point.

I think the issue is not whether we can transform, because obviously we have been transforming EAD to MARC for a long time, but I think we'd all agree that MARC is not really an ideal way to look at an archival collection. The hope is that we can be part of BIBFRAME to break down the wall between "traditional" library resource description and archival description. Is it possible to have a data structure that works for both? I think so. 


On Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 1:35 PM, Nathan Tallman <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

On Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 12:58 PM, Connizzo, Nick <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
My personal feeling is that we might need to sunset EAD and move to a different description standard that better integrates with linked data, but obviously that's a massive effort. EAD always seemed to me to be, frankly, the way to electronically re-create the paper finding aid. Maybe that's being unfair, but we can do so much more with our data. We need to be thinking less "how can I make my finding aids work in a world of linked data?" and more "how can I get my data into this network?" The finding aid is just one way to do it.

I've always thought of EAD as describing a finding aid more than describing archival content. It's the finding aid itself that describes archival content. (EAD3 may be changing this.) 

But what this question gets to is, do we need finding aids? There's been research on this topic, with people on both sides. Some think everything should be described in a database (pick a level) and we query the database.  Personally, I don't think the finding aid is going away. It's the best way to describe the complex relationships between creators and their content. However, as Nick suggests, I think we'll start to see additional ways to get archival description into the linked open data world. I admit that I have only superficial knowledge of BIBFRAME, but shouldn't we be able to map/transform things, even if it has an intermediate format/schema in between? EAD-->MODS-->BIBFRAME/LOD


Nathan Tallman
Digital Content Strategist
University of Cincinnati

Nick Connizzo
Digital Archivist
Special Collections Research Center, Gelman Library
2130 H. Street NW, Washington DC 20052
[log in to unmask]