What is a finding aid? From the Society of American Archivists: n. ~ 1. A tool that facilitates discovery of information within a collection of records. - 2. A description of records that gives the repository physical and intellectual control over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials. What does that mean? A finding aid is a descriptive guide for archival collections and usually includes information about the creator of the materials, formats included, dates covered, and how the materials are arranged. A finding aid helps researchers and archivists to learn more about the collections and to find the materials in a collection that will be most helpful for their research questions.
To search the archival collections, use the Special Collections Search. Search Tip: Enter coll* in the Call Number field in addition to your other search terms. This will limit your search to archival collections only.
In 2015, the Special Collections department of the Albin O. Kuhn Library at UMBC will begin to use Encoded Archival Description (EAD-XML) to create finding aids. Information about this project and the work created will be added to this page as it is finalized.
What is EAD-XML? Encoded Archival Description (EAD) is a standard format of XML that is used to create finding aids. XML is a mark-up langauge that is used for structured data or to make a document machine-readable - this means that a computer can parse out different sections and identify the sections by the XML tags. Why is it important? Creating finding aids using EAD allows archives and libraries to share their files and make them available in shared catalogs like ArchiveGrid. It also means that the finding aids are somewhat uniform, although how the finding aid is displayed to the user can vary quite a lot.
A resource list is available (opens as a PDF).
In 2014, UMBC was awarded a grant through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) Access to Historical Records program. The project plan for the grant, "Implementation of an EAD compliant work flow at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County," includes standardizing collection level and finding aid data creation, repurposing data across multiple systems (PastPerfect, Aleph, and CONTENTdm), and using multiple standards (MARC, Dublin Core, and EAD3).
For questions related to the NHPRC grant, the description manual, or EAD, please contact Special Collections Archivist Lindsey Loeper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions related to the use of MARC XML, please contact Catalog Librarian Vicki Sipe at email@example.com.