Over, Under, Around, and Through: Getting Around Barriers to EAD Implementation
Combs, et al., for OCLC Research
an audience whose needs we must always bear in mind—than collection descriptions that
are only available locally.
Researchers can filter and refine searches. Some applications can utilize EAD’s structured
tags. This makes it possible to limit searches to scope and content notes or collection titles,
As user studies reveal better and more intuitive ways to present
finding aid content, reformatting collection guides encoded in EAD is painless. If one
presentation/display method proves problematic or confusing for researchers, you can
change it with minimal time and effort and zero rekeying or editing.
Display and output can be tailored for research needs. One single EAD encoded file can
provide multiple output versions for multiple researcher needs (online version, printer-
friendly version, etc.). You can also easily create different display options for different
Researchers can explore old data in new ways. EAD enables archives to offer researchers
new, interesting, powerful, and productive visual explorations of collections. There are some
great new tools under development. Examples include: Jeanne Kramer-Smyth’s ArchivesZ, an
“elastic list” prototype at Syracuse, and relationship mapping tools such as NNDB Mapper.
EAD gets you money
Grant agencies and other funders look favorably on and encourage EAD implementation as part of
their granting process. For example, the guidelines for the NEH Preservation and Access, Humanities
Collections and Resources encourage the use of EAD.
The NISO/IMLS A Framework of Guidance for
Building Good Digital Collections includes EAD as an appropriate metadata scheme for archives.
NHPRC similarly endorses EAD in their guidelines.
Knowledge gained mastering EAD is applicable in other contexts
In learning EAD, you will also develop skills that extend beyond encoding finding aids by gaining a
basic understanding of XML and XML tools. So much digital data—in the library and archival
communities and beyond—is stored and/or exchanged in the form of XML. These skills for staff will
allow them to work with other standards such as MARCXML, MODS, and METS.
EAD paves the path to the future
Although today’s researchers find collection descriptions using keyword searching on search
engines, the Web of the future will be no place for unstructured data. The future is the “semantic
Web” or linked data. Implementing EAD will help to position your institution for the future of internet