Project details

Project Name: LEADERS (Linking EAD to Electronically Retrievable Sources)
Project Funder: Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB)
Project start date: October 2001
Project end date: March 2004

The project team consists of:

  • Susan Hockey (Project Director)
  • Chris Turner (Project Manager)
  • Anna Sexton (Project Archivist)
  • Geoffrey Yeo (Project Consultant)

and at BookMARC:

  • Joaquim Carvalho (Project Manager)
  • José Miguel Vieira (Lead Developer)
  • António Lope (Product Manager)

The team reports to a Management Committee, whose members are:

  • Sheila Anderson (Director, Arts and Humanities Data Service)
  • Paul Ayris (Director of Library Services, University College London)
  • Professor Mark Greengrass (Executive Director, Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield)
  • Elizabeth Hallam-Smith (Director, Public Services, National Archives)
  • Chris Kitching (Secretary, Historical Manuscripts Commission)

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The need for LEADERS

Encoded Archival Description (EAD) is a well-established standard for encoding archive finding aids. Encoded Archival Context (EAC) is a new standard for recording and exchanging information about creators of archive materials in the form of authority records with an emphasis on the provision of biographical or administrative histories for the persons or organisations concerned. EAD and EAC can bring many benefits to custodians and users of archives because:

  • they provide a means for archivists to structure finding aids and authority records using technology that is independent of proprietary hardware and software platforms
  • they enable Internet delivery of these structured finding aids and authority records

As standards for encoding, EAD and EAC support the effective structuring and delivery of information about archives to users. However, as stand-alone tools, they cannot give users access to the actual content of archival material.

Therefore, there is real potential for the development of a resource that enables the integration of EAD and EAC with other tools that do allow for remote use of the contents of archival collections.

The Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) enables electronic texts of all kinds to be searched and presented to users in a variety of different ways. When EAD, EAC and TEI are brought together alongside digitised images of archival material the potential benefits for users are vast. Within a single environment the user can:

  • find items in archival collections
  • learn about their contexts
  • view representations of the items themselves
  • read, study, analyze and manipulate their content

At present EAD and EAC are often used independently of TEI and no generalised environment exists for linking the three encoding schemes. Where links do occur in online archival finding aids, they normally point to digitised images of transcriptions without provision for any analysis or manipulation of the source.

Some prototypes for using EAD alongside other SGML/XML-based systems have been developed in the USA, notably by the:

However, the main focus of these projects has been the provision of access to specific materials, rather than on the development of a toolset for use in connection with a wide range of archives.

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The LEADERS project aims to develop a generic computer-based toolset that will enable the creation of an online environment which integrates EAD encoded finding aids and EAC authority records with TEI encoded transcripts and digitised images of archival material and is flexible enough to handle a wide variety of archives. In doing so, LEADERS will directly contribute to the enhanced provision of remote user access to archives.

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The project objectives are to:

  • Analyse user needs in relation to online access to archives and identify key functions which users apply to archival material
  • Design and implement a user-friendly toolkit and demonstrator application where finding aids, authority records, transcripts and images are brought together
  • Facilitate ways in which archivists and users can use standard encoding systems for Internet access to archives
  • Provide recommendations for the use of TEI with archival material
  • Provide recommendations for integration between EAD, EAC and TEI in an XML-based Web environment
  • Provide documentation for archivists and users

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Research Questions

1. How can the output of our research take account of user needs?

Developing a typology of archive users and identifying user needs and behaviour in relation to online access to archives is a vital component of our research. We are developing a categorisation model which takes account of previous work on user needs, both in the UK and internationally, but seeks to analyse the user marketplace more fully than any previously published study.

It is hoped that this model will provide a basis for selecting a sample of users who can be asked to supply more detailed information about their needs when using online archival finding aids and representations of original paper records, as well as feedback on the progress of our work. By seeking feedback from a representative cross-section of users we hope to find a basis for matching the design of an interface, where EAD is linked with other electronically retrievable sources, to the needs of its potential users.

2. How can TEI be used effectively for the textual representation of archival documents?

We are considering the issues that arise from seeking to use the TEI to cover the content and structure of a range of commonly-occurring archival documents. These might include personal diaries, letters and notebooks, as well as administrative or operational records created by government agencies, universities, businesses or other corporate bodies.

We are researching into the internal structures of archival documents, the variations in structure that are found between document types and between historical periods of document creation, the presence or absence of formal rules or models for document structure and the range of relationships between one document and another within archival collections.

3. How can EAD, EAC and TEI be integrated?

The integration of EAD, EAC and TEI raises questions about:

  • the nature of appropriate linkages between them
  • the role of the TEI Header when used in conjunction with the more extensive metadata framework provided by EAD.

These issues are central to our effective design of a suitable environment for linked finding aids, transcripts and digital images of archival material.

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LEADERS intends to deliver:

  • A methodology for linking finding aids and authority records to transcriptions and images
  • A toolkit for implementers to use to build their own applications following the LEADERS methodology
  • A model internet-based system (demonstrator application) where finding aids are linked to transcriptions and images
  • Documentation for the entire set of methodologies and tools
  • Training materials for archivists and users

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This page was last modified on 26 November 2003 by Anna Sexton

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