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Society of American Archivists
Technical Subcommittee on Descriptive Standards
1999 Annual Meeting, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
25 August 1999


Attendees: Nicole Bouché (Yale Univ.), Jackie Dooley (UC Irvine), Wendy Duff (Univ. of Toronto), Fynnette Eaton (Smithsonian Institution), Elaine Engst (Cornell Univ.), Michael Fox (MN Historical Society), Steve Hensen (Duke Univ.), Peter Hirtle (Cornell Univ.), Kris Kiesling (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Ctr.), Bill Landis (UC Irvine), Susan Potts McDonald (Emory Univ.), Dennis Meissner (MN Historical Society), Alden Monroe (AL Dept. of Archives and History), Richard Pearce-Moses (AZ Dept. of Library, Archives, and Public Records), Cristina Ribeino (Faculty of Engineering, Porto), Sharon Thibodeau (NARA), Anne Van Camp (RLG), Tyler Walters (Inst. of Paper Science and Technology), Susan Westberg (OCLC).

¶ Welcome and introductions:

Eaton and Hirtle noted that the issue of standards within SAA is on the agenda for the January 2000 Council meeting and encouraged TSDS to provide some feedback to Council in time for that meeting about our new process proposal. Generally though, Council has been satisfied with how the work of the Standards Committee and TSDS has gone during the past year, but is willing to entertain proposals for alternative ways of working in the standards arena if we feel this is necessary. Some lack of clarity was expressed regarding whether and when Council needs to put its stamp on comments and recommendations coming from TSDS. To what extent, if any, can or should Council delegate authority to speak on standards issues to other bodies within SAA? Pearce-Moses announced that he will be the Council liaison for the Standards Committee and TSDS for the coming year.

Action item: TSDS needs to submit some sort of process feedback/recommendation document to Pearce-Moses for feedback and to the SAA office in time for inclusion in the January Council meeting at which standards will be discussed.(Landis)

¶ Report summaries and discussion:

CC: DA during the past year worked on a number of issues, including an ISBD for electronic records and the creation of a task force for the revision of AACR2 rule 0.24 on works of multiple characteristics. The committee also recommended to the JSC that the next revision of AACR be organized by ISBD area and not by format.

At its 1999 midwinter meeting, MARBI passed significant portions of proposal 99:08 and created a $u subfield for URLs in the 555 finding aid note and the 583 action note fields in USMARC. This will take a while to filter down through the vendors for implementation. MARBI rejected the notion of adding URLs to linking fields that are used to create hierarchical links between MARC records.

CDS engaged in a final internal review of proposed changes to ISAD(G). Some of those changes include: making the creator element mandatory; consolidation of inclusive and accumulated date fields; consolidation of associated material/related material notes; addition of a descriptive control area in which to record the cataloging guidelines used in the creation of a description. Revised ISAD(G) will now contain 27 discrete elements for archival description. There is also a move to develop a DTD for ISAAR(CPF) authority records. Generally CDS needs to frame its standards work within an infrastructure of archival description and access tools rather than catalog records and finding aids. SAA has received a grant to fund increased participation in ICA activities, which will include funding for travel to CDS meetings.

Reported on RAD changes in the works and on CCAD's interest in EAD as a possible data structure standard for archival descriptions using RAD. Broached idea of TSDS chair participating as an ex officio member of CCAD and especially attending the Nov. meeting each year at which RAD changes are discussed. TSDS participants agreed that this would be something good to pursue. Announced that RAD will be available on the Web sometime in the future. TSDS participants agreed that for the present the SAA publications officer should be encouraged to consider the possibility of distributing RAD through the SAA publications catalog to facilitate more U.S. archivists getting their hands on it.

Action: Investigate (with Susan Fox) possibility of SAA funding for Meissner to travel to CCAD meeting in Ottawa in November 1999. Keep in touch with Duff for specifics about the meeting.(Meissner)

Action: Talk to Teresa Brinati about the possibility of SAA making RAD available through the publications catalog.(Landis)

Reported publication in time for the SAA annual meeting of the EAD Application Guidelines, Version 1.0. Discussed some of the challenges facing the EAD WG now that the necessary 1.0 documentation has been completed, including internationalization issues and the creation of a process and guidelines for vetting future proposed changes to the DTD. Announced an open meeting of the EAD WG on Sunday morning at 9 AM (room is noted in the SAA pocket program).

Reported on OCLC’s Cooperative Online Resources Catalog (CORC) <http://purl.oclc.org/corc/> research project. Noted that OCLC is looking for participants to experiment with contributing resources to CORC and also that there are currently no size limitations on CORC records. Lorraine Normore, senior research scientist at the OCLC Office of Research is the person to contact for anyone interested in more information about participation.

Reported on progress since last year of RLG's Archival Resources service and that RLG continues to be interested in building content and encouraging new participants. RLG is also following XML developments and thinking about how XML can be used by RLG. Work is underway to harmonize local RLG encoding guidelines for Archival Resources with the newly published EAD Application Guidelines, Version 1.0. RLG continues to be concerned with issues such as the international harmonization of archival descriptive practice and data structures, the incorporation of digital archival objects into encoded finding aids, and standardization of item-level description. Van Camp will be representing RLG at the upcoming European Union archival network meeting in Edinburgh and has agreed to report back to the SAACAIE listserv with a summary of issues discussed at that meeting.

¶ Old Business

During discussion it was agreed that original proposal was too broad and that a new discussion paper on the topic of the 97:7 issues not passed by MARBI should be kept focused on principles.

Action: Landis, McDonald, Kiesling, and Fox will work on drafting a discussion paper on this for submission to the LC MARC office in October.

As a follow up to the successful passage of 99:8, it was decided during the discussion that the archival community should identify other possible fields from which a linking subfield $u might be useful. Fox noted that we need to be able to articulate a current need or use for such linking and that anyone proposing such a field would need to provide a short rationale for and some real-life examples of the usage of a $u URL subfield within the field they propose.

Action: Bouché will work with Fox to coordinate discussion and collection of rationales/examples in time to submit a proposal to the LC MARC office by October.

Was discussed during 1998 CAIE/TSDS transition meeting, but no follow up occurred during the past year. During discussion it was agreed that this was still a good thing for TSDS to pursue. Letter should focus on CORC research project at OCLC and the possibilities there for addressing the record size limitations in WorldCat. Letter should solicit a response from OCLC regarding their ideas for how EAD-encoded finding aids and digital images specifically and, more generally, the world of archival information will be integrated into the larger OCLC framework. This letter should be channeled through Council to see if they want to send it out under their name.

Action: Landis to coordinate work on the letter, ideally in time for submission to Council during its January 2000 meeting.

¶ New Business

Landis began a discussion by wondering whether or not, given its importance generally to SAA, that the current organizational position of the EAD WG as a subunit of TSDS was the best place for the WG. Should we perhaps set the WG free to find a more appropriate home? During discussion, TSDS participants overwhelmingly agreed that the current arrangement was fine for now and made more sense than any other possible arrangement for the short term. We will continue to be sensitive to ongoing developments, especially regarding the internationalization of EAD, and make adjustments to the WG's position within SAA when the need arises to do so. TSDS will continue to perform a loose annual audit of the EAD WG and recommission it for another year at each annual SAA meeting.

Action: TSDS members voted unanimously to recharge the EAD WG for the year 1999/2000.

A discussion regarding propriety of TSDS reviewing this standard, which does not—at this stage—have a direct archival hook, ended with the sense that it is important for us (specifically SAA NISO representative Lisa Weber) to comment because it indicates that we are interested in the further development of the remaining metadata string bytes comprising the Digital Object Identifier. TSDS voted to ACCEPT, with certain reservations about how the remaining metadata elements may be assigned.

Action: Engst reported that she had enough input and will forward comments to Lisa Weber for an SAA vote on the Sept. 15th NISO ballot.

Regarding the parent-child relationship, it was decided that Standards Committee does need to be involved in which standards TSDS reviews, however the request and go-ahead can all happen fairly informally through the SAACAIE listserv. If there is a critical need to get fast, formal approval the TSDS chair can go directly to the Standards Committee chair.

Regarding the process of handling comment requests efficiently, and in a way that provides for the most input from TSDS members into decisions/comments, it was decided that the chair would get a TSDS member to serve as the point person for each issue under review. That person will be responsible for collecting, distilling, and reporting back to the SAACAIE listserv the subcommittee’s comments. The TSDS chair will then be responsible for communicating the subcommittee's decisions/comments to the appropriate party within SAA (generally these would be passed up to the Standards Committee chair) or outside of SAA (generally this would be the person or organization requesting TSDS review and comments on something. The SAACAIE listserv should serve as the discussion venue for TSDS and Standards Committee.

The process agreed upon is that generally requests for comments will come to TSDS through the following two channels:

  1. A formal request from the chair of SAA's Standards Committee
  2. An informal request from another SAA subunit (sections, roundtables, etc.) or from a group outside of SAA

Such requests will be handled by TSDS as follows:

  1. Formal requests from Standards Committee chair
    • TSDS chair assigns to a TSDS member to coordinate
    • Coordinator lead discussion on SAACAIE listserv
    • Coordinator distills comments, writes up response, and forwards to TSDS chair and SAACAIE listserv
    • TSDS chair forwards to Standards Committee chair
  2. Informal requests from someplace else
    • TSDS chair submits request for discussion on SAACAIE listserv (should TSDS respond to request? What elements of request are actually of archival interest?, etc.)
    • TSDS members vote on whether or not to respond to request (perhaps Standards Committee chair could act as tie-breaker if needed?)
    • TSDS assigns to a TSDS member to coordinate (if TSDS votes "no" on request, chair conveys that vote to person/organization requesting TSDS comments)
    • Coordinator leads discussion on SAACAIE listserv
    • Coordinator distills comments, writes up response, and forwards to TSDS chair and SAACAIE listserv
    • TSDS chair forwards response to person/organization requesting TSDS comments

Generally, TSDS responses to requests for comments should be posted on the TSDS Calendar on the web site so that they are available to anyone interested and to future TSDS members for reference.

Action: Meissner will contact Pearce-Moses after SAA to make sure that the listserv's subscription list contains all the appropriate folks.

Action: Landis will write up process and add it to TSDS web page.

Kiesling, Meissner, Monroe and Landis met with the Committee on Education and Professional Development prior to the TSDS meeting regarding interest in a joint review of SAA's curriculum for continuing education in description. They will work with Kathleen Roe of CEPD to undertake this, with a resulting report of some sort going to the SAA office, CEPD, and Richard Cox, chair of the newly appointed SAA Task Force on Continuing Education.

Some possible questions that might be asked and hopefully answered during this review are as follows:

Action: Landis will contact Reneta Webb at SAA office regarding information that she might have on current curriculum offerings in the area of description and lists of current teachers of those courses.

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