Fourth Meeting, Rome, 4-5 November 1999



1. Finding Aids

Central to the EUAN approach is the use of the ISAD(G) data elements, and agreement on a minimum set for participation in the project. Underlying this is the archival principle of separation between content and context. Following review of the sample entries provided by each partner, the following conclusions were reached.

  • Reference Code ISAD 3.1.1

    There are three distinct elements:

    • a country code, which may follow the ISO standard,
    • a code for the repository or the name of the repository and
    • the fonds number or name.

    These are all required by the archivist, but the user may not require to see all of them, and is likely to prefer to see the name(s) rather than numeric codes.

  • Title ISAD 3.1.2

    The format should follow national rules. Some EUAN partners do not use the words "Papers of.."when referring to a fonds, but simply give the agency name.

  • Name of Creator ISAD 3.2.1

    The format should follow national rules.

  • Scope and Content ISAD 3.3.1

    The length of this entry should relate to the importance of the material being described and not its physical extent. This is a matter for the individual repository and archivist.

    Negative information, e.g. that certain types of material that might be expected to appear in this fonds do not, may be included in some cases. This is also a matter for the individual repository and archivist.

  • Administrative/Biographical History ISAD 3.2.2

    Two levels are required:

    • a general history, stored separately from the desciptions, and produced without specific reference to the material being described;
    • more specific and concise information related to the material being described, and stored within the finding aid.
  • Language of Material ISAD 3.4.4

    There is a need in the EUAN project for additional information on the language of the finding aid (see below). The use of ISO codes for language will be examined in Workpackage 5, though for display purposes, users are likely to want names not codes.

  • Finding Aids ISAD 3.4.5(formerly 3.4.6, once referred to informally as Access Tools)

    The name of the person providing the top level finding aid, and the date of its creation should be recorded, usually automaticaly. Links to the existence of more detailed descriptions will also appear here. The information could also be held in the Description Control Area - Archivists Note, ISAD 3.7.2.

    The language of the finding aid is an important aspect, which may be recorded in this element. Use of ISO codes will be considered (see above).

2. Language Issues

National formats should be used for personal, organisational and place names. (It is assumed that ISAAR conventions are followed in national rules).

Further study of existing standards is required, and contact with MALVINE, European Commission and UN will be made to find if there are standards for place name conventions in different languages that EUAN can adopt.

Descriptive labels for ISAD elements require to be edited:

  • to make them easier for users to understand (e.g. general description for top level finding aid; inclusive dates for dates of creation)
  • to make them as equivalent as possible between languages (e.g. segnatura archivistica and reference code).

Descriptive labels for prototype screens require to be available in all partner languages and as equivalent as possible between languages. Initial work will take place using the Swedish system labels and translating them to English.

The technical archival terms agreed by the ICA terminology group, together with the Italian and Dutch translations from English, will be integrated into the database and tested in the next 3 months. This will form one module of the EUAN prototype. Swedish terms will be added in the second quarter of 2000.

3. Information Use and Display

Simplicity of Display and Ease of Use are vital parts of the user and system requirements. Information should be displayable on a single screen wherever possible; where more than one is required, the information should be arranged hierarchically.

Initial examination indicates that the Dublin Core elements may be of value, particularly in indexing web pages. A further more detailed report will be prepared by January 2000. At the same time, the use of other XML related standards including RDF will be investigated.

The potential value of the Encoded Archival Description DTD as a data export format was recognized. Along with a draft DTD on name authorities (based around the ISAAR standard) it will be tested in the next stage in a prototype.

4. Co-operation with Other Projects

Co-operation with EVA, the European Visual Archive, is already well established and will continue. The desirability of further co-operation with the MALVINE project is recognized and will be developed in the next 6 months. Links with the "New Haven group" working on name authority standards will also be continued.

5. Dissemination

This remains a priority for the project. Planned activities for the next 3 months include presentations to the Croatian archivists' association, an article for the Italian archival association and briefings for the ICA European Board and for the Nordic group of archivists.

6. Next Steps

The technical group will be testing the agreed descriptive elements, using the Swedish server and data from the Historic Manuscripts Commission, in the next 6 months.

GPM, 6 November 1999

Back to Top

Last updated 29 November 1999.

This page is maintained for EUAN by the International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam.
We highly appreciate comments and suggestions.