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I am very pleased, on behalf of the staff working on the Yale University
Library EAD Finding Aids Project, to announce the availability of our
prototype database for archival and manuscript finding aids.  The Finding
Aids Project uses a WWW interface and OpenText search software to search
finding aids encoded with the beta version of the Encoded Archival
Description Document Type Definition (EAD-DTD), which is an SGML standard
being developed by the archival profession.  This development is based on
work originally done at the University of California at Berkeley.  It
currently contains finding aids for collections in three Yale repositories:
the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Manuscripts and Archives in
Sterling Memorial Library, and Special Collections in the Divinity Library.

We are announcing the availability of the database to the Yale Library staff
list and to the EAD early implementors at this time so that members of those
two communities can critique our work thus far.  We are interested in all
comments, including those on the presentation of the web site, the encoding
of the finding aids, and their content.  We have deliberately taken a
minimal encoding approach to start with and will be looking at whether more
detailed encoding (such as personal, corporate, or geographic names within
the finding aids) will be worth the effort.  An evaluation form is included
in the web site and we encourage people to send us their reactions.  We
would also welcome discussion on the EAD list from other early implementors
and will share the comments we get from other sources with that community.

There are a few limitations to the database that led us to label it as a
prototype:

        1.    The version of the EAD-DTD that we have used is a beta version
and further changes may be made, although we believe they will not be major.

        2.    Our implementation is based on access through the World Wide
Web using SGML viewing software attached to the web browser as a helper
application.  Panorama, viewing software from SoftQuad, is the most readily
available application of this type (we have included links to SoftQuad's web
page from which one can download a free version of Panorama), but has some
limitations.  The most serious, from our perspective, is the absence of a
version for Macintosh computers.  SoftQuad has said that the new release of
Panorama will include a Mac version, but until that happens, users will
require Windows-based machines.  If a Mac-compatible browser is not
available in the near future, we will be looking at various ways of
converting the SGML encoded finding aid files to HTML for viewing.

        3.      We have defined three indexing regions (Entire document,
Introductory material, and Container listing).  Because of the way in which
these regions are defined in the OpenText search engine, certain information
that is in the container listing is also indexed in Introductory material.
We are working on ways of solving this problem, but it is a known problem in
the system.

There are currently nine finding aids in the database.  We plan to load a
large number of additional finding aids within the next few weeks as
encoding proceeds.  We are also in the process of finalizing encoding
operations so that all new finding aids will be added to the database as
they are produced.

The address for the database is: http://webpac.library.yale.edu:8080/  It is
also available from links on Yale Library's Research Workstation at:
http://www.library.yale.edu/pubstation/workstat.html

As noted on the site, we are also adding links from the catalog records for
these materials in Orbis, Yale's online catalog, directly to the finding
aids.  These are available in the Web version of Orbis at:
http://webpac.library.yale.edu/  Not all links have been made yet, but the
one for the Sholem Asch papers is operational.

We look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions for improving the
database.

The Yale University Library EAD Finding Aids Project
        Nicole Bouche (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)
        David Clough (Divinity Library Special Collections and Manuscripts
and Archives)
        David Gewirtz (Computing and Information Systems)
        Ann Green (Social Sciences Statistical Laboratory)
        Nancy Lyon (Manuscripts and Archives)
        Fred Martz (Library Systems Office)
        Sarah Prown (Research Services and Collections)
        Martha Smalley (Divinity Library Special Collections)
        Richard Szary (Manuscripts and Archives)
        Shari Weaver (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)
        Tim Young (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)