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Created: December 20, 2002.
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US Library of Congress Releases Encoded Archival Description DTD Version 2002.

A posting from Randall K. Barry (U.S. Library of Congress) announces the release of the EAD DTD Version 2002. The Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard is used by digital libraries to create machine-readable finding aids. Archival finding aids are "descriptive bibliography or metadata tools which take the form of inventories, registers, indexes, guides, and similar resources created by museums, libraries, repositories, and other kinds of archives." The Version 2002 EAD DTD "is designed to function as both an SGML and XML DTD. It conforms to SGML/XML specifications and has been thoroughly tested using a wide variety of existing SGML/XML software. To be used as an XML DTD, 'switches' have been included in the DTD for turning off features used only in SGML applications, and turning on features used in XML applications." Complete documentation for use of the EAD DTD is provided in the form of a Tag Library. The EAD DTD Version 2002 has been prepared by the Encoded Archival Description Working Group of the Society of American Archivists and the Network Development and MARC Standards Office of the Library of Congress. The MARC Standards Office (NDMSO) acts as the maintenance agency for the EAD standard. At least 75 institutions are registered as users of the EAD DTD.


The Encoded Archival Description is an implementation of ISO 8879, SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language)/XML (eXtensible Markup Language). Version 2002 of the EAD DTD was finalized in December 2002. It supersedes version 1.0, released in August 1998. It also contains links to related files. The 2002 version is the second production release of the EAD DTD. It incorporates a small number of newly-defined elements, deprecates eight previously used elements, and modifies the structure (content model) for a few elements to allow the inclusion of other valid EAD elements at different levels within a finding aid. The changes and additions were suggested as a result of experience with the first (1998) production release of the test version of the EAD DTD. During the four years that Version 1.0 was in use, hundreds of archives experimented with use of the EAD DTD for a range of finding aid encoding projects. Their input was important for deciding upon which changes and additions were essencial in the 2002 release.

Version 2002 of the EAD DTD is designed to function as both an SGML and XML DTD. It conforms to all SGML/XML (ISO 8879) specifications. It has been thoroughly tested using a wide variety of existing SGML/XML software. To be used as an XML DTD, "switches" have been included in the DTD for turning off features used only in SGML applications, and turning on features used in XML applications. Instructions for using these "switches" are contained in the DTD itself. Please keep in mind, downloading the EAD DTD and related files is not all you will need to do to begin using it. Most SGML and XML authoring software requires more than simply loading a new DTD to make them work since there are often proprietary features and add-ons to contend with. You will most likely need to consult manuals or user guides on your SGML/XML software after getting a copy of the EAD DTD and related files themselves.

EAD DTD Version 2002 Changes

With the arrival of the new millennium, the need to reconsider some existing SGML/XML elements and to examine certain design aspects of the EAD DTD had grown to the point where formal suggestions were solicited from users of the DTD. A series of 67 suggestions for changes and additions were received from users via a web-based suggestions form made public on the EAD Web site. The suggestions were consolidated into a list that was circulated internally and discussed during a special meeting of the EAD Working Group, held in Washington, DC, April 27-29, 2001. The meeting included representatives from Australia, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States -- bearing witness to the international importance of this emerging standard.

The discussions resulted in the deprecation of only eight (8) EAD elements that had been part of the Version 1.0 (1998) EAD DTD. Much of the need to deprecate elements at all was due to a desire to keep the EAD DTD compatible with provisions of the General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G)). Changes were also the result of experimentation with the EAD DTD that had occurred since the release of Version 1.0 in 1998. A few new elements were also added to the EAD DTD. The revision of the DTD introduced some structural changes that unbundled certain pieces of information in a finding aid, thus facilitating a more logical arrangement of information. Restructuring also opened up certain existing elements for use inside elements where they had not been allowed before. [from "Development of the Encoded Archival Description DTD"]

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