14 · Survey Results: Executive Summary
level. A significant number (53 or 80%) are encoding
finding aids in EAD, but not everyone is, yet. Those
who are marking up their finding aids in EAD are
doing so on a smaller scale than they create MARC
records. For example, the average number of EAD
files created is 530.58, versus 1560.18 MARC records.
Respondents’ comments on whether the time
and effort to create EAD records equals the benefits
are worth examination. While many responses were
short, positive answers such as “absolutely” or “yes,
definitely,” they were not all glowing recommenda-
tions. One of the negative responses from an institu-
tion that does use EAD was, “No. The payoff for the
time and expense of creation is negligible.” Another
explained, “Since our finding aids have been avail-
able on the Web for quite some time, first as plain
HTML documents and then as EADs, I don’t think
we’ve realized any particular benefit to changing
the format, except perhaps that the finding aids look
neater. Our researchers were finding our collections
through search engines prior to the conversion.”
Others indicated they just weren’t sure yet. A
few indicated that they didn’t really know if it was
worth it but felt “this is a standard we want to follow.”
Another even claimed, “There’s no way to easily mea-
sure the ‘benefits;’ however it would be irresponsible
to not encode our finding aids.”
Among those who are using EAD, there seem
to be divergent opinions about the ease of creating
EAD finding aids. Several mentioned the ease with
which their institution creates EAD finding aids, with
one explaining, “The creation of new finding aids
in EAD is no more complicated or time consuming
than those created in any other format.” Others in-
dicated that the time and effort is substantial, not-
ing that “the special knowledge required for creat-
ing EAD finding aids and making their presence on
our Web site effective has been an impediment to us
backing the effort fully.” This is consistent with the
findings of Elizabeth Yakel and Jihyun Kim, who
listed “complexity of technology” as one reason for
the lack of diffusion of EAD in the archival commu-
nity.8 Another interesting comment from the survey
discussed how one institution takes advantage of a
template for creating EAD “that does not require any
added effort.” But they fail “to see what, if any, benefit
is derived from the EAD metadata.
Those who do not use EAD were asked if they
perceive any external or internal pressure to imple-
ment its use; the results were mixed. Even some of
those who have implemented were compelled to
comment. One respondent claimed that some staff
members “can not see any advantage in using EAD
over standard static HTML pages. We feel there are
no justifications for increasing processing and de-
scription time and costs for minimal advantage… I
believe that EAD is a labor-intensive throwback to
library cataloging methods of the past.” In addition
to the increased description time and cost—whether
real or perceived—there is another negative connota-
tion to EAD. Some respondents detect the feeling that
implementing the use of EAD is embracing change
for change’s sake, or, as one person put it, giving in
to “a subtle ‘keeping [up] with the Joneses’ kind of
internal pressure to adapt whatever is cutting edge
and new.”
Web Presence
All but one of the responding libraries have at least
some information about individual manuscript col-
lections on their Web sites. The types of informa-
tion differ, but most include collection title, a brief
description of the collection, inclusive dates, extent,
biographical or administrative history, and a unique
collection identifier for some collections. Although
they might include these elements, they don’t always
include them for every collection; 54% report that the
information varies by collection.
Manuscript Collection Information on the Web
When asked how many manuscript collections are
represented on their Web sites, respondents’ answers
ranged from 1 to 11,000 collections. Two institutions
proudly proclaimed that all of their collections were
represented online. The average number was 831.59,
somewhere between the average number of EAD files
and MARC records created. A common approach
among the responding institutions is to add the col-
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