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Practical Technology for Archives

Document Type

Article

Creation Date

11-1-2014

Description

[Excerpt] Max J. Evans notes the paradox the digital age presents to archivists: the explosion of information and budget cuts means increasing backlogs and less time to gain detailed subject knowledge of collections, while users believe that all information is “quickly and easily available” if not already digitized and on the web. For some institutions the lack of digitization extends not only to collections, but also to access points such as finding aids. In a 2004 survey of seventeen institutional repositories Christina J. Hostetter found that “in most cases, archives have approximately 10 percent or less of their descriptions to holdings online.” In a 2010 paper Christopher J. Prom found that among surveyed institutions “the ‘average’ institution makes descriptive information at any level of completeness available on the Internet for a paltry 50% of its processed collections and 15% of its unprocessed collections.” While these statistics include information regarding processed collections not available in any form (online or off), Prom notes many respondents to his survey identified a strong need for “better tools to do their descriptive work” including a “streamlined process for creating finding aids in an open source format that can be viewed on the web.” Prom concludes, in part, that “it is currently beyond the capacity of many institutions to implement MARC and EAD in a cost-effective fashion” and more economical means of providing online access points are needed. The current article provides one means of batch creating HTML or PDF documents from existing word processing documents. The method described has a relatively low barrier to entry, and is particularly targeted at smaller institutions which might face challenges in creating online access points due to lack of funding and specialized training.

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