This is the briefest of travelogues reporting on a meeting about EAD files at Marquette University for the Catholic Research Resources Alliance on September 20, 2010.
A few members of the Alliance were previously awarded a CLIR grant to catalog previously uncataloged special collections items. These members are now doing the work using EAD (Encoded Archive Description) with the intent of sharing the resulting metadata with the “Catholic Portal”. The purposes of the meeting were to build relationships between these particular Alliance members and to discuss progress on the grant. In attendance where people from St. Catherine University (Deborah Kloiber and Emily Asch), Marquette University (Matt Blessing, Ann Hanlon, Bill Fliss, and Jean Zanoni), and the University of Notre Dame (Pat Lawton, Kevin Cawley, and Eric Lease Morgan).
Of primary concern was the particular way people were using EAD and whether or not it would lend itself to indexing by the “Portal” software. Consequently, I spent a lot of the time describing the technical infrastructure of VUFind and how it interfaced with Solr, the underlying indexer/search engine. In short, the absolute need for unique identifiers, human-readable descriptions of items, and location codes were enumerated. The former two can be garnered from the unitid and unittitle elements of a EAD did elements. The later can be gotten from the url attribute of the eadid element. Everybody was confident their EAD files would contain these values.
We then went around the table doing a bit of show & tell against our EAD. The folks of St. Catherine’s were using the Archivist’s Tool kit to “catalog” their Ade Bethune collection. Marquette University was using a Microsoft Access database to “catalog” Dorothy Day content.
Time tables where then outlined. The whole CLIR project is expected to be finished by December of 2011. Participants in attendance thought their work would be done by the end of Spring 2011, and the remaining time would be spent on putting the content onto the “Portal” as well as doing various types of publicity (conference presentations, etc.).
The meeting was over around noon, and we all retired to the faculty club for lunch. (“Thank you, Marquette!”)
In retrospect, there may be two additional issues needing to be addressed. First, I originally planned to assign or replace unitid values with locally generated, “Catholic Portal” specific values, but I have since learned that unitid information is often times used as a sort of call number and therefore necessary for location. Replacing (removing) such values from the EAD files may make work down the line more difficult. Maybe I should be getting the unique values from an id attribute of the unitid element instead?
Second, as a group we may need to decide how to encode dates. Dates can be nested within unittitle elements as well as free-standing elements in the did. Just as importantly, they can take all sort of forms. In order to make sorting and faceting feasible, the Alliance may need to figure out ways to standardize and normalize dates.