Watch this space: ArchiveGrid is coming to town

Archivists and researchers will be interested to know that the refashioned Archival Resources will make its debut in early 2006 as

RLG has long been supportive of the unique needs of archival collection description. We helped to create MARC AMC, and were the first implementers on the block. We were involved in the early days of EAD development, and helped to design EAD training. We have Best Practice Guidelines for EAD, and the EAD Report Card. In 1998 we introduced Archival Resources to give unified access to archival collection descriptions of all kinds.

Archival Resources has been a unique resource, in that it brings together collection descriptions from the RLG Union Catalog, EAD encoded finding aids, and HTML finding aids. If you reflect the sources of data for a moment, you will not be surprised to discover that there are a lot more MARC records for collection description than there are EAD encoded guides. After all, MARC records have been created since the 1970s, and MARC AMC debuted in 1983, whereas EAD appeared in the 1990s. The total number of collection descriptions is over 800,000. I’m still surprised to find that it’s something like 93% MARC to 7% EAD or HTML. The redesign will capitalize on the power of collection descriptions in all formats.

If you want to get a peek under the hood, then I urge you to check out the design ideas posted online at the ArchiveGrid web site. You can also see our landing pages, derived from the MARC records. By making these landing pages publicly available, anyone who is interested can find or link to them. The landing pages can be crawled by search engines, so that researchers on the open web can discover collection descriptions online, without having to know about ArchiveGrid as a go-to site ahead of time. If there’s an area you are particularly interested in highlighting for researchers, you can feel free to link to the landing pages directly from your own site. Researchers can also do keyword searches on collection descriptions once they are in ArchiveGrid.

I couldn’t find any landing pages for Thanksgiving (American or Canadian!), but here are further points for exploration for Christmas Music. Note that the exposed terms include people, groups, and places, which will be of real interest to family history researchers and more casual researchers, as well as faculty and students. I think this new resource will keep researchers whistling a happy tune for some time to come!

If you are interested in contributing to ArchiveGrid, it’s free and easy, and can help expose your collection descriptions to researchers worldwide.

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