Achieving Thresholds for Discovery: Addressing Issues with EAD to Increase Discovery and Access Webinar

This webinar provides information about the changes institutions can make to their Encoded Archival Description (EAD) practices to improve the discoverability of their materials. Tweet: #oclcr

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Merrilee Proffitt
Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research

Bruce Washburn
Consulting Software Engineer, OCLC Research

Dan Santamaria
Assistant University Archivist for Technical Services, Princeton University


The October 2013 Code4Lib Journal article "Thresholds for Discovery" reported results from an OCLC Research analysis of 120,000 Encoded Archival Description (EAD) encoded finding aids; the article also highlighted issues with current encoding practices that would inhibit access and discovery. In 2012, Princeton University's Archival Description Working Group undertook an ambitious project to upgrade their finding aids delivery system, addressing many of the issues identified in the "Thresholds" article. This webinar was a joint presentation of the OCLC Research and Princeton work, and included a discussion on steps that institutions can take both individually and collaboratively to improve their own thresholds for discovery.

This was the 14th webinar in the OCLC Research Technical Advances for Innovation in Cultural Heritage Institutions (TAI CHI) Webinar Series, the goal of which is to highlight specific innovative applications, often locally developed, that libraries, museums and archives may find effective in their own environments, as well as to teach technical staff new technologies and skills.

Related links

  • "Thresholds for Discovery: EAD Tag Analysis in ArchiveGrid, and Implications for Discovery Systems" article in Code4Lib Journal (Issue 22) [link]
  • An article on EAD Tag Usage by Kathy Wisser and Jackie Dean has been published in the current issue of the American Archivist:
  • Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives by Jackie Dooley and Katherine Luce:
  • The Metadata IS the Interface: Better Description for Better Discovery of Archives and Special Collections, Synthesized from User Studies by Jennifer Schaffner
  • DACS (Describing Archives: A Content Standard) is a set of rules for describing archives, personal papers, and manuscript collections, and can be applied to all material types. It is the U.S. implementation of international standards (i.e., ISAD[G] and ISAAR[CPF]) for the description of archival materials and their creators.
  • DACS Single-level Optimum level description -- more info here:
  • What is FRBR?  Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records.  Read more about it here, including a description of "FRBR user tasks":
  • What is XQuery?  A language for searching and transforming data, and a handy way to look inside XML.  More here:
  • What is XSLT?  A tool for transforming XML documents.  Overlapping functionality with the data transformations available in XQuery.  More here:
  • Some documents regarding the EAD Revision work are on the SAA website:
  • What is SKOS?  Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) is a W3C recommendation designed for representation of thesauri, classification schemes, taxonomies, subject-heading systems, or any other type of structured controlled vocabulary. SKOS is part of the Semantic Web family of standards built upon RDF and RDFS, and its main objective is to enable easy publication and use of such vocabularies as linked data.
  • What is RDF? The Resource Description Framework (RDF) is a family of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) specifications originally designed as a metadata data model. It has come to be used as a general method for conceptual description or modeling of information that is implemented in web resources, using a variety of syntax notations and data serialization formats.
  • What is Solr?  Solr is an open-source search platform from the Apache Lucene project.
  • What is RelaxNG?  RelaxNG (REgular LAnguage for XML Next Generation) is a schema language for XML.  It's a relatively simple way to specify a pattern for the structure and content of an XML document.  More here:
  • The Princeton University Library Finding Aids site:


05 December 2013


1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
Eastern Standard Time, North America [UTC -5]


Online via WebEx


Quick links:

"Thresholds for Discovery: EAD Tag Analysis in ArchiveGrid, and Implications for Discovery Systems" article in Code4Lib Journal (Issue 22) [link]

OCLC Research TAI CHI Webinar Series [link]

OCLC Research YouTube Channel [link]

OCLC Research Webinars in iTunes [link]