Over, Under, Around, and Through: Getting Around Barriers to EAD Implementation
Combs, et al., for OCLC Research
Convert your EAD to HTML or PDFs for Web display
(for instance, at the time of the writing of this report, Google’s Chrome browser is reported
to not provide full XML support).
Instead of displaying the raw XML using a Web browser, convert EAD finding aids to a static files in a
human-readable format. By applying XSLT stylesheets to XML finding aids, archives can generate
multiple forms of output, including HTML and PDF. Such conversion can be accomplished in batch.
HTML or PDF files can then be uploaded to a standard Web server to support research and discovery.
Developing XSLT stylesheets requires some technical knowledge, but several consortia and archives
have made available XSLT stylesheets that archives can easily adapt for their own institutions. Some
examples are listed in Appendix II.
Delivering HTML or PDF rather than EAD may be attractive to archives that lack technical staff to
support XML publishing, but these methods have several drawbacks. They do not take full
advantage of having archival information marked up in EAD; searches cannot be restricted to
particular EAD elements. Moreover, every time the finding aid is updated, the HTML must be
regenerated and uploaded to the server. Some archives use a hybrid approach; indexes are created
from EAD files to enable fine-grained searching, but the HTML file is delivered to the user when they
want to view the finding aid. Syracuse University Libraries take this approach.
Use inexpensive tools to enable searching of HTML and XML files
Even if an archive lacks a substantial budget or large technical staff, it can choose from several
inexpensive, easy-to-implement tools that support indexing and searching EAD files. One example is
Swish-e, “a fast, flexible, and free open source system for indexing collections of Web pages or
Google Site Search also provides an inexpensive, customizable way of searching your
Use an archival management system that supports publication
Many archival management systems enable publication via export of finding aids in EAD, HTML, or
PDF. By using archival management systems, archivists can streamline workflows, avoid duplicating
data in multiple places, find and share information more easily, manage collections, and generate
reports and statistics.
Archival management systems have some drawbacks: they may enforce a rigid workflow, it can be
difficult to import data, and some are costly to implement. On the other hand, archival management
systems can enable archives to create, manage, and share archival information more efficiently.
A list of archival management systems that support Web publishing of
finding aids are listed in Appendix II.