Society of American Archivists. Technical Subcommittee on Descriptive Standards

Minutes of Annual Meeting, August 21, 2002, Sheraton Birmingham Hotel, Birmingham, Alabama

Attendees: Jean Dryden (consultant), Linda Elkins (University of Georgia), Chatham Ewing (Washington University, St. Louis), Michael Fox (Minnesota Historical Society), Susan Hamburger (Penn State University), Roslyn Holdzkom (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Kris Kiesling (University of Texas, Austin), Mary Lacy (Library of Congress), Bill Landis (University of California, Irvine), Dennis Meissner (member, Minnesota Historical Society), Lynn Pritcher (Duke University), Chris Prom (member, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign), Adrian Turner (Sacramento Archives), Diane Vogt-O’Connor (NARA), Susan Westberg (OCLC), Brad Westbrook (University of California, San Diego)

The meeting was called to order at 1:00 PM by Chair Lynn Holdzkom, who began by introducing TSDS Council liaison Jackie Dooley and SAA 2003 Program Committee Co-chair Michael Fox. Michael and Janice Ruth will be organizing the 2003 program around the theme “Spotlight on Archives: Showcasing Diversity,” and he encouraged TSDS and its members to work toward an October 7 deadline in developing and/or sponsoring program sessions. He noted that committee-sponsored programs have a much greater probability of acceptance.

New Members. Stephen Mielke (University of Texas, Austin) has been appointed to the 2002-2005 term; Lynn Holdzkom begins her second term (2002-2005); and Dennis Meissner has agreed to serve as chair for the 2002-2003 cycle. The chair also introduced Diane Vogt-O’Connor as the current Standards Committee Chair.

TSDS Annual Report. Lynn summarized the work of TSDS since the 2001 annual meeting, noting that the most significant tasks were 1) creation of a joint Standards Committee-TSDS Listserv to manage standards-related communication and reviews; 2) progress in the further development of the SAA Online Standards Handbook, which is directed by the Standards Committee, with TSDS assuming responsibility for the descriptive standards component; and 3) review work related to the CUSTARD project which, this past year, was limited to commenting on the CUSTARD Statement of Principles. The full Annual Report is available on the TSDS Web page.

MARBI Report. Liaison Michael Fox reported on relevant actions by the Machine-Readable Bibliographic Information (MARBI) Committee since our last meeting. They include: 1) the UK group’s move toward cataloging format alignment by abandoning UKMARC and adopting the MARC21 formats; 2) the addition of subfield “u” to additional MARC fields, increasing opportunities for linking to external resources; 3) in field 655, the elimination of the requirement for a second indicator “7” when LCSH is the term source; and the inclusion of field 648 to implement construction of faceted subject terms.

ICA/CDS Report. Liaison Michael Fox reported on two significant activities within ICA/CDS. Encoded Archival Context (EAC), an XML DTD to create and administer authority records for archival creator entities has run into certain ICA politics and is no longer on a fast development track. It is undergoing a major overhaul and is lined up behind ISAAR(CPF) in the queue. ICA is trying to discourage UNESCO plans to develop from scratch an Integrated Library System (a parallel to the ISIS library system) that could be vended as a cataloging system for archives in developing countries.

CCAD Report. Liaison and CCAD chair Bob Krawczyk was unable to attend SAA, but submitted a written report containing the following highlights: Rule revision requests were very few this year; they hope that the Electronic Records chapter will be issued in approved form by year's end. Much CCAD energy focused in CUSTARD project work, which is aiming toward completion in early 2004. Comments have been received, and CCAD is developing a plan, for a Canadian Archival Authority System. Part I (description) of RAD is now online, with work on Part II (headings) continuing; a RAD index prepared by the National Archives will also be online soon.

EADWG Report. Kris Kiesling announced that the EAD 2002 Tag Library is hot off the press and available at the SAA booth, and the DTD will be mounted on the EAD and LC websites ASAP. Kris walked through new and changed elements, many of which stem from requests by the ISAD(G) encoding community. Daniel Pitti is creating an XSLT stylesheet to convert EAD 1.0 finding aids, and Michael Fox is revising the Cookbook and its templates. The EADWG meeting on Sunday morning will focus on updating the Application Guidelines.

Description Section Report. Chair Mary Lacy discussed the upcoming Finding Aids Fair, which will focus on the description of digital objects, and noted that this is the last year for the booth. She will be succeeded by Brad Westbrook; incoming newsletter editor is John P. Rees (National Library of Medicine), and incoming Web liaison is Diane Ducharme (Yale University Library).

RLG Report. RLG Liaison Anne Van Camp, who could not attend TSDS, sent along published brochures on RLG’s Archival Resources, which harvests, indexes, and makes centrally available the EAD finding aids of participating repositories. Dennis Meissner, who has been chairing an RLG EAD Advisory Group reported on their revision of the encoding guidelines for finding aids in Archival Resources, the final version of which will appear shortly. The advisory group has attempted to promulgate a minimal subset of EAD elements, and guidelines for using them, that could stand as a set of best practices for EAD encoding in international union catalogs. Bill Landis suggested that TSDS should make its own review of the RLG guidelines, endorsing them or articulating its own set of best practices in the process; Chris Prom volunteered his involvement in any such effort.

ALA CC:DA Report. Liaison Susan Hamburger summarized a lengthy written report on relevant activities and actions of the ALA Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access. The report has been mounted on the TSDS Web page.

OCLC Report. “Connexion” Service absorbed CORC functions—largely electronic resources cataloging—in June. Connexion may be used to catalog all types of resources. Other OCLC cataloging resources may be accessed through it, and OCLC Passport functionality will be migrated into it in December. See Website for more information. OCLC and RLG have issued a joint report—Metadata Framework to Support Preservation of Digital Objects—intended as a comprehensive guide to understanding preservation metadata. It is based on a consensus of leading experts and practitioners. A link to the report is available at

Open Archives Initiative Project. Chris Prom summarized and discussed the written report that he submitted regarding the University of Illinois project to test the OAI Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. A copy of the report is available on the TSDS Web page.

Standards Committee Report. Chair Diane Vogt-O’Connor reported on Standards Committee project to manage, update, and expand the online SAA Standards Manual. New sections are being added for photo images and microfilm. Vicki Walch wants to see it updates, but cannot do the work herself. They suggest reformatting as a database that might be maintained on the NFACE site (managed by COSHARC). It could also end up on the SAA website. Bill Landis encouraged the latter, especially because of the greatly improved Web tools that Brian Doyle now has access to. Diane asked everyone to look at the existing content sections and to sign up to work on one. Lynn suggested Brad Westbrook as the likely point person for the descriptive standards portion.

CUSTARD Report and Discussion. CUSTARD project manager Jean Dryden reported on the past and continuing work of the committee. She asked for TSDS reactions to the Statement of Principles that TSDS recently commented on. She remarked that the document turned out to be a necessary early step along the road to grappling with the rules: let an agreement on common principles guide the debate. Jean advanced the following hoped-for timeline for the remaining work: all parts done at end of 2002; two outside reviewers selected in March 2003; revision work following the review; translation into French; dissemination to community in mid-2003; community comments reviewed that autumn; final CUSTARD meeting in October; document printed early in 2004.

Kris Kiesling pointed out that TSDS needs to think about how the resulting standard will be maintained by its U.S. Community. What structure and financial resources will be necessary to properly maintain it?

The meeting adjourned at about 3:30 PM.