Re: Best practices for Finding Aids

Michael Nagy

First, know you are not alone. I would tackle your two problems separately – finding aid creation and finding aid discovery. EAD is a markup language to aid in discovery and display. Since you don’t have a system that can do both now, I would set the EAD aside temporarily. Focus on the description of all your collections. Once a system is in place, you can go the migration route as you stated. The most important thing is to have good finding aids, no matter how they are accessed: binders, online catalog, PDFs, EAD with Archon, etc. Best to create them according to archival content standards from the start, which in the US is SAA’s DACS. Once they are written up, you can print them out, link PDFs to your OPAC, or whatever you can do at this point. Take it a piece at a time. There is a national aggregator that will take finding aids, marked up or not, ArchiveGrid. You may want to check that out. That could help some remote users, but for yourself and onsite users I would focus on the PDFs. Even the search capacities within PDFs will be beneficial and if you are able to load static, OCR’ed copies to a website, you will likely get some web browser hits even with those.