We're using the EAD to mark up a finding aid to a conceptual art archive
(the Theresa Cha Archive) which includes text-based materials, but also
actual works (as opposed to documentation) in many other media (film,
video, audio, photography, assemblage, etc). For the EAD to be useful to
museums and other non-text collections (we're a museum and film archive for
instance) I think there will need to be a slightly more detailed way to
encode media and physical information on a per-item basis. Daniel tells me
that the ControlAccess/GenreForm is meant as a heading, and not really for
physical description on the item level. The reasons it would be useful are
twofold (at least what I can think of now):

1. I know the EAD is about intellectual access to collections, and not
necessarily meant to be a collections management tool, but in a museum or
art historical context, physical/media info is not just for conservation or
collection management purposes. It's not incidental to the subject or
meaning of the archive and it's parts; it's inextricable from them.

2. It seems to be the only real block to being able to use the EAD for
complete collection descriptions. Again, many may not want to use it this
way, and will link Finding Aids (on the item level) to their robust MARC
catalogs, but many institutions outside the Library world (again museums)
may not have any kind of item-level catalog that would support provision of
item-level/physical info along with a finding aid. The EAD (or even
collection of EAD's) may not be a substitute for a good collection
management system, but it already provides for enough detail about objects
to serve as a useful stand-alone when that is the only option. Again,
complications of real-world application and adoption in a variety of
communities should not necessarily drive the EAD standard (or hinder it:),
it's more of a supporting reason to no.1.

The physical description would have to allow for detail, but not
necessarily include ALL the necessary details. It could work much like
GenreForm allowing one to decide, based on media-type/physical properties,
which authority to use (AAT, MIM, etc) and fill in the apppropriate terms.
So, the DTD would not have to include all the media terms of AAT as
elements or attributes, but allow the source and term to be named. This
would not only make it feasible, but would seem to allow for future growth
as new authorities and vocabularies emerge (cataloging rules for multimedia
content, descriptive terms for digital art, etc).

I must say the EAD even in alpha looks like a very useful tool for
collections access. I just wanted to bring this topic up to this group
before the next EAD meeting. Please let me know if I'm overlooking
something that's already there, or if my understanding is just way off.


Richard Rinehart              | University Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive
Systems Manager & Education   | University of California at Berkeley
Technology Specialist         | 2625 Durant, Berkeley, CA 94720-2250
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