Over, Under, Around, and Through: Getting Around Barriers to EAD Implementation
Combs, et al., for OCLC Research
In-house conversion offers numerous benefits: fostering staff skills, flexibility in schedule and
workflow, and direct control over process and inputs. Basic XML skills are not difficult to acquire,
and having internal staff with XML knowledge may benefit other library processes and projects as
well. Various tools can speed/ease creation of EAD. The two following options—authoring tools and
scripts—assume starting with electronic files (e.g., word processing files, or text files obtained
through converting hard copy using optical character recognition, or OCR).
As part of in-house conversion you can use commercial XML authoring tools (we’ve included a list of
the most well-established in Appendix II). You may also be able to manipulate the text using scripts.
Once you have gained confidence in understanding and defining the EAD output you expect, then
any programmer with experience of scripting languages like Perl or VisualBasic and XML could write
scripts to produce the desired output from your existing input. EAD produced this way can be
validated and/or edited using commercial tools, or using the free online W3C validator
Option 2: Exporting EAD from a content management system
validation could be part of the scripted process(es).
Some content management systems (CMS), such as the Archivists’ Toolkit or Archon, are capable of
producing EAD. If your CMS does not output EAD directly, two key questions are 1) whether required
EAD elements are separate fields in the database, and 2) whether your database exports XML.
Table 1. Tips for producing EAD from managed content under various export scenarios.
Data Exports as
Export the data as XML and then use XSLT to convert to EAD. (XSLT is a
language for transforming XML documents into HTML documents or to
other XML documents, in this case transforming data to EAD). This
requires some knowledge of XSL, or the funds to contract out XSL
development. Ideally it would be a one-time cost.
Export the data in some other structured form (comma-separated
values, for example) and identify a scripting approach to process the
data and convert to EAD. This requires some programming or scripting
knowledge. Perl is an example of a scripting language that is useful in
Determine whether scripts can be written to parse output from your
database and generate EAD; whether, and if so how, the database
needs to be modified to be able to export EAD; or whether perhaps the
appropriate solution is migration to an EAD-capable database.