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Society of American Archivists
Technical Subcommittee on Descriptive Standards
2000 Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado
30 August 2000


Attendees: James Cross (Clemson Univ.), Jackie Dooley (UC Irvine), Wendy Duff (Univ. of Toronto), Michael Fox (MN Historical Society), Susan Glenn (MITRE Corp.), Steve Hensen (Duke Univ.), Holly Hodges (Univ. of TN-Chattanooga), 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), Anne Van Camp (RLG), Albin Wagner (NJ State Archives), Susan Westberg (OCLC), Brad Westbrook (UC San Diego).

¶ Welcome and introductions:

¶ Report summaries and discussion:

CC: DA during the past year focused on a rethinking of the nature of serial publications, which are now being called 'continuing resources.' Two categories: traditional serials and integrating resources (e.g. looseleafs, databases, manuscripts/archives collections with continuing accruals). Also continued with a discussion of the reorganization of AACR2 in some way other than current format-based categories. Challenge in sorting out current inconsistencies in rules for some elements (e.g. titles) in different formats. There is a long-term possibility of integrating input from the archival community into a rewriting of Chapter 4 of AACR2. Susan Hamburger is the new CC:DA representative.

At meetings in January and July, MARBI approved the addition of the $u subfield for URIs to USMARC fields 505, 514, 520, 530, 545, and 552--see LC Web site for more details. Renamed 856 $u from URL to URI because the latter is more inclusive of types of linking mechanisms. Made 856 $g for URN obsolete (subsumed in renaming of 856 $u). Approved 856 $y for link text to be used instead of entire 856 note as hyperlink; will be considered for other hyperlinking fields as well. Approved 583 (action note) $2 for naming the thesaurus from which terms are used for the action note; preservation community is working on a list and definitions for preservation actions; Michael raised the possibility of developing a thesaurus for archival action terms.

A joint MARBI/CC:DA session discussed the use of XML technology vs. the use of MARC technology. Some problems raised regarding MARC technology: character limitations, systems limitations, abstracting/indexing vs. cataloging, need to separate tools from data storage standard, MARC impedes bringing together different kinds of information into one format.

In addition to being SAA's liaison to MARBI, Michael is now the ALECTS voting representative to MARBI.

CDS completed the revision of ISAD(G), which is now available at the ICA Web site. ISAD(G) is a set of buckets to use with national content standards such as APPM or RAD. CDS is just beginning the process of reviewing ISAAR(CPF). There was also considerable discussion about making EAD a topic of the next quadrennial workplan. After some discussion it was recommended that SAA should contact ICA to lobby for an SAA representative on CDS.

Action: Meissner to discuss with Susan Fox. Next year during Steve Hensen's SAA presidency might be a good time to move this lobbying forward.

Reported that RAD rule revisions for the last 3 years are available on the Web via the Canadian Council on Archives. Also, a draft of the new electronic records chapter of RAD is available for comment. Plans are underway to make an XML-encoded version of RAD available on the Web in the future. The National Archives of Canada is working on a draft RAD chapter on objects and fields. Work on RAD Revealed: A Basic Primer has been completed and it will soon be available. CCAD recognizes the need to incorporate more guidance into RAD on native names and will hopefully be working on this with the Canadian museum community. Reported on development of CAIN, a national database of fonds-level description of every fonds in Canada, which is based on RAD encoded in either MARC or EAD. CCAD is working on a report on requirements for a national archival authority control system in Canada and also looking forward, if funding is approved, to working with U.S. archivists on the CUSTARD project to harmonize APPM and RAD into a single data content standard. Wendy also encouraged TSDS to request funding to send a representative (probably Meissner) to the fall 2000 CCAD meeting.

Action: Meissner to pursue with Susan Fox.

Report is available on the TSDS Web site. Updated TSDS on advantages and drawbacks of submitting EAD for approval as a NISO standard, as NISO has been encouraging this. Announced new members of the EAD Working Group, and discussed work toward a standardized mechanism for an EAD revision cycle. Following a motion and second, TSDS members voted unanimously to reauthorize the EAD Working Group for the coming year.

Reported that the first year using the new Description Section bylaws seemed to go quite well. The DS Web site is now linked from the SAA Web site. Landis reported on this year's ISAD(G)-focused Finding Aid Fair and encouraged TSDS members to take a look and that feedback would be appreciated.

Reported that RLG's Archival Resources service is now 2 years old and continuing to grow. Information is updated monthly, and now includes 500,000 MARC AMC records and 15, 240 full-text finding aids. The service is international in its scope, including information from archives in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the Netherlands, and soon South Africa. Invited TSDS members to visit RLG's demo booth in the exhibition hall.

Announced a new cultural heritage materials initiative intended to cross institutional boundaries and integrate materials that are described using a variety of schema. The CDOC conceptual reference data model seems promising as a model for this service to facilitate mapping of data from a variety of descriptive schema. RLG plans to create a set of best practice guidelines for item-level description. A Shockwave demo is available on RLG's Web site.

Reported on OCLC authority projects and on the CORC project for cataloging of digital resources, which is open to all OCLC members. Also reported that RLG and OCLC have begun a joint project to explore digital archiving.

¶ Old Business

Brad Westbrook from the University of California, San Diego has been appointed and Dennis Meissner from the Minnesota Historical Society has been reappointed for 3-year terms. Meissner has agreed to continue as TSDS chair for another year.

Landis reported on survey done from the Continuing Education Task Force (CETF) of SAA continuing education description offerings during the past 7 years: they have been piecemeal and have largely focused on applications rather than on basic descriptive principles and on education regarding the infrastructure of international and national descriptive standards. There is definite need for a more articulate structure for SAA continuing education in the area of archival description. Landis also reported that the CETF recommended that SAA investigate serving as a clearing house for information on archival professional continuing education offered by other organizations such as regional and state archival associations and state archives. This would especially be valuable in point those seeking reasonably priced, geographically close workshops on basic archival practice.

Action: McDonald and Monroe to co-lead a discussion on the SAACAIE list to help us move toward a common understanding of what a descriptive standards curriculum would look like that could be used by any organization for basic archival descriptive education.

¶ New Business

Meissner and Kiesling led a discussion of Standards for Archival Description: A Handbook, now available online through SAA. The Standards Committee is responsible generally for SAA standards publications, but Kiesling asked that TSDS take specific responsibility for this descriptive standards handbook. TSDS members agreed that this would be a good subcommittee project, and that we might start by taking a look at the various chapters and picking 1 or 2 on which to work on updating. It was noted that we should definitely build some sort of an evaulative piece into any updates.

Action: Westbrook to take lead in a discussion on the SAACAIE list to help us focus on a chapter or two of Standards for Archival Description: A Handbook that we could begin tackling.

Kiesling and Meissner reported on a grant submitted by SAA and the Canadian Council on Archives to the National Endowment for the Humanities entitled "Towards International Descriptive Standards: The U.S./Canadian Standards Reconciliation Project." Discussed a possible role in this project for TSDS: getting up to speed on RAD so that TSDS can actively and effectively comment on CUSTARD-related work as it proceeds in the event that the funding comes through. Some things that TSDS could focus on in a review of RAD:

Wendy Duff reminded TSDS attendees that, while the 15 DC elements do meet the minimal expectations that we deefined for them in our review comments, we nevertheless need to be vigilant in asserting in public forums that they are by no means adequate in and of themselves to describe archival collection materials for end users.

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