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Encoded Archival Description (EAD): Adoption and Implementation

Jihyun Kim and Elizabeth Yakel

Presented at ASIST 2004 Annual Meeting; "Managing and Enhancing Information: Cultures and Conflicts" (ASIST AM 04), Providence, Rhode Island, November 13 - 18, 2004


Encoded Archival Description (EAD) provides archival researchers with more in-depth content-related and contextual information than was previously available anywhere but in the physical repository. This has led to its use throughout the United States and in many other countries to increase access to archival and manuscript collections. EAD is one means of managing metadata that describe digital objects linked to archival finding aids. In spite of these potential benefits, the archival community in the United States has embraced EAD slowly. This paper examined EAD adoption in the U.S. and reports on a survey of 399 archives and manuscript repositories that participated in EAD educational workshops between 1993 2002. Among the factors found to be related to EAD adoption were prior adoption of the MARC format for the description of archival or manuscript materials and professional staff size. Implementation issues affecting adoption included the different technologies and skills required for encoding and display of finding aids and the lack of a consensus on either encoding software or display options.

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