Thanks to everyone for their responses.  You all have confirmed what I thought but couldn't properly verbalize.  Hopefully my argument for EAD will be taken into consideration by TPTB.

KYLE:  Our finding aids have never been described using EAD.  I don't actually work in the special collections department so I can't explain how we ended up here.

A lot of things are happening at once:  transitioning to a new CMS, becoming a hosted instance of CONTENTdm, upgrading from CONTENTdm 5.4 to 6.x.  


Rachel Shaevel
Electronic Resources Cataloger
Technical Services/Catalog Department
Chicago Public Library
Harold Washington Library Center
400 S. State St.
Chicago, IL 60605
P: (312) 747-4660
[log in to unmask]

-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Kyle Banerjee
Sent: Sunday, May 12, 2013 12:24 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] EAD vs. HTML for finding aids

On Sat, May 11, 2013 at 1:01 PM, Wilhelmina Randtke <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> EAD is the appropriate metadata schema for a finding aid. HTML is not 
> a metadata schema.
> HTML in no way implies that a computer can read and process your 
> finding aids.  It has nothing to do with metadata.  HTML is about 
> visual display for people.


However, EAD is no silver bullet as there are multiple ways you can legitimately code the same finding aids. This means that stylesheets and translation tools that work for one institution or set of finding aids won't necessarily work for another. But it is still clearly the best way to go.

Although MARC has been used to describe archival collections, it is not an appropriate tool. For starters, MARC is designed to describe individual items where EAD is designed to describe collections of materials. MARC lacks a good way to express important archival elements, has technical limitations that makes it impossible to encode some things, and it's hopeless for expressing complex hierarchical relationships. MARC cannot achieve equivalent functionality to EAD (even if it can be used for some
purposes) which is why EAD to MARC crosswalks typically have the MARC tags buried right in the EAD -- i.e. the transform is hand coded on a record by record basis.

RACHEL: are you positive this stuff really is in HTML and that what you've seen isn't simply translated from EAD (i.e. did your archivist say they were just doing finding aids in HTML)? I was under the impression that manually HTMLizing finding aids fell into disfavor long ago as maintenance is far more difficult and incompatibility with the rest of the world is guaranteed.