Let me briefly wave a cautionary flag.

We have been discussing many useful changes to EAD. And these remarks
are not directed at any particular proposal but just to convey a general

It is very tempting to look at a finding aid and begin to parse out its
contents in great detail.  I'm not sure that is always so useful a thing
to do.  10 years or more ago we started to use the MARC AMC format.  We
created lots of fields and subfields that could separate out the content
of our records in a very granular way.  Looks at fields 506, 540 and
541, for example.  In the long run we have generally decided that such a
full level of content designation is expensive (lots of labor) and not
particularly useful.  The later because systems didn't enable us to do
much with that data except display it, and perhaps more fundamentally
because we came to see that the MARC record was basically about
description and not about management.  Inventories are the same.

With MARC we were asking the system to do too much.  I'm disappointed
that we couldn't better integrate collections delivery and collections
management but there it is for now.

In our workshops, Kris and I emphasize that markup is driven by needs
for identification, processing and display.  I think that we ought not
to get ourselves into the business of trying to parse the content of
finding aids simply as an intellectual exercise, like diagramming
sentence sturctures.  Both have a value in helping us analyze and
therefore understand.  But with finding aids we need not always carry
that forward as formal encoding.   Real application needs should drive
our markup.

Michael Fox
Michael Fox
Head of Processing
Division of Library and Archives
Minnesota Historical Society
Voice:  612-296-1014
Fax:      612-296-9961
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