SPEC Kit 307: Manuscript Collections on the Web · 15
lection information to their Web site as new collec-
tions are processed or there is some level of intellec-
tual control over the collections, though some have
different plans and procedures in place for legacy
collections. The level of intellectual control varied
among the responses. Some only add information
after a collection has been fully processed others
add basic information about a collection, regardless
of level of arrangement and description and comple-
tion of finding aid. Several institutions assess the
“importance” of a collection and place information
about it on their Web site accordingly.
Finding Aids on the Web
The vast majority of the responding libraries (60 or
94%) have finding aids—regardless of format or pre-
sentation—on their Web sites. The number ranges
from 1 to 6000 with 655 on average. The criteria for
getting them there are similar to the criteria for get-
ting any kind of information about manuscript col-
lections on the Web. Some libraries have established
policies and procedures, while others report that staff
simply adds them when they have time.
Finding aids are delivered online in a variety of
formats. The largest number of respondents (35 or
58%) is delivering them in HTML with EAD encod-
ing. Others are presenting them as HTML from a
word-processor document and as PDFs. Fourteen
libraries have finding aids online that were created
in at least two different ways.
Many of the respondents’ comments to questions
throughout the survey mention the conversion of
legacy finding aids. Depending on the institution,
this conversion process could entail a great deal of
work. Forty-eight libraries (77%) convert legacy find-
ing aids to new styles for Web presentation. Although
71% of the respondents claim that all of their online
finding aids reflect the same style, 13 of the institu-
tions that convert legacy finding aids report their
online finding aids don’t reflecting the same style.
One might assume that the same institutions that
convert legacy finding aids would want all of their
finding aids to look the same, but this survey did not
ask further questions about this.
Hosting/Harvesting Finding Aids
Forty of the responding institutions (63%) participate
in EAD harvesting or consortial programs. Besides
the large state and regional consortia such as Online
Archive of California (OAC) and ARCHEION, a
number of respondents contribute their finding aids
to RLG/OCLC’s ArchiveGrid. Of those who do not
participate in any such program, half are interested
in doing so in the future.
Only a little more than half of the respondents
(58%) replied that they have some mechanism that
allows users to search across fields within the online
finding aid lack of an easy way to take advantage
of the tagged elements in EAD is a common com-
plaint. Institutions are using a variety of programs
and special software to make this possible, including
Orpheus, DLXS, Aleph, DB/TextWorks, Tamino, and
Usage Tracking
Only nine libraries track the use of in-house finding
aids. Some of the tracking comes from user-registra-
tion records. One person commented, “Well, we don’t
track use of finding aids, we track use of collections.”
It’s often easier to track use of online finding aids.
Several of the 28 who do track their use mentioned
a specific tool for this, such as Urchin. Others sim-
ply described the frequency with which they or a
technical support person does this, and the answers
describe varying levels of information they capture.
One respondent, whose institution can gather this
information, explained why they don’t track it: “Since
our finding aids have been harvested by any num-
ber of search engines and other projects, however, I
doubt there is a realistic way to gather much useful
information about how and by whom they are used.”
When asked about the differences in frequency of
use between online and in-house finding aids, 81%
answered that online finding aids are “used” more.
Since the survey did not define “use,” these numbers
can only be interpreted in a general sense, as “use”
might mean “accessed” and/or actually referenced
or used in a reference request. Several responded
that they no longer have anything other than online
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