Thresholds for Discovery

October 30th, 2013 by Merrilee

I’m pleased to report that we have an article in the most recent Code4Lib Journal! The article, Thresholds for Discovery: EAD Tag Analysis in ArchiveGrid, and Implications for Discovery Systems is based on an analysis of how EAD (Encoded Archival Description) is used in the ArchiveGrid corpus. We go beyond that to look at EAD-in-use through the lens of discovery — how well is EAD currently meeting our objectives making our finding aids not only more discoverable, but more functional in discovery environments? In many ways, this article is a reaction to the many questions we receive about ArchiveGrid and why we do not provide a variety of indexes or advanced search features — the encoding and the data simply do not, at this point, support this functionality. We hope this paper can serve as the beginning of a discussion about some focussed efforts to improve the current situation.

With more than 120,000 finding aids, we believe this is the largest analysis of EAD done to date, and I’ll immodestly propose that the article is worthy of your attention!

Many thanks to Kathy Wisser and Jackie Dean for sharing their work with us — their earlier study of EAD usage provided an excellent model, and I’m grateful that they were willing to share their early results with us. Their article will be published in the next American Archivist, providing yet another look at EAD. Thanks also to my co authors: Bruce Washburn; the extraordinary developer behind ArchiveGrid and many other wonderful things; and Marc Bron, a PhD candidate in the computer science department at University of Amsterdam, who worked with us as an intern in the spring and did the analysis quite handily along with a number of other projects.

We look forward to your comments on the article, as well as your ideas for how to move forward to better thresholds for discovery.

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