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After composing a reply to a follow-up question from Robert Jett, I
thought others might be interested in the summary of how we are
generating our EAD finding aid instances. Examples of Yale finding aids
are available at http://webpac.library.yale.edu.

There have been basically two approaches to generating EAD finding aids
among the three repositories here. The Divinity Library and Manuscripts
and Archives had most of their finding aids in WordPerfect. I have
written macros in WordPerfect which do a reasonably good job of
converting them to the EAD format, though some user intervention is
still necessary. How much additional work is necessary depends on how
consistently the existing finding aids conform to a specified format.

The third repository involved in the project, the Beinecke Rare Books
Library, already had their finding aids in a highly consistent ASCII
database, which is part of a highly automated process for
creating finding aids, both in online and paper form, and generating a
range of other products (e.g. labels, diagnostic and verification
files/printouts, etc.). The effectiveness of this system, which relies
on
the existence of pure ASCII files, makes using an authoring tool for
creating Beinecke finding aids undesirable for the forseeable future.
Conversion of these finding aids in bulk using EDIX macros developed
inhouse is underway, and generally can be accomplished much more rapidly
than from Wordperfect.

We started off using SGML authoring software, WordPerfect SGML and
SoftQuad's Author/Editor, in different repositories. These products
are useful to begin finding your way around the EAD DTD. They give you a
quick way to discover which elements and attributes are allowed in which
postions in the SGML instance (document).

These products would also be useful if you intended to write new finding
aids directly as SGML documents. Each of the repositories at Yale has
decided not to do this yet. Instead, we will write new finding aids in
existing formats, paying careful attention to issues of consistency, and
then convert the finished versions to SGML. This may change as SGML
authoring tools become easier to use, and SGML browsers allow more
flexible options for printing hard copies of finding aids.

Currently, then, we run macros to convert existing finding aids, either
from WordPerfect or ASCII files, and then check the results against an
SGML validator, to ensure the instances conform to the EAD DTD. Since we
are mounting the finding aids in an OpenText database, we use OpenText's
validator for this purpose.

--
David L. Clough
Reference Assistant, Yale Divinity Library
New Haven CT 06510 USA
(203) 432-6374 [log in to unmask]