EAD is a data structure standard for archival finding aids that is based on the SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) and XML (Extensible Markup Language) standards for the creation and storage of documents. EAD-encoded finding aids facilitate much more sophisticated navigation, searching, and retrieval of information on the Web than is possible using HTML. After several years of development and testing, Version 1.0 of EAD was released by the Society of American Archivists, the national association for archivists and archival institutions, in August 1998. The new standard, available as a Document Type Definition (DTD), was widely accepted by repositories in the US and has been implemented by numerous institutions in Canada, the UK, Europe, and Australia. TARO was at the forefront of implementation of EAD in Texas, providing the support of a consortium to the state's archival repositories, to make their collection descriptions available and searchable on the Web. A revision to the standard, EAD 2002, was released in December 2002, superseding Version 1.0. EAD Schema, a subset of the EAD 2002 DTD, became available in 2007 in RelaxNG and W3C languages. A third revision, EAD3 for both DTD and Schema, is anticipated in early 2015
There are many advantages to using EAD. The ISO standard on which it is based, SGML, is platform independent and nonproprietary. (ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, coordinates the work of national standards bodies for some 87 countries worldwide.) Intellectually, EAD is a community-based standard, owned by the Society of American Archivists. The Library of Congress has made a major commitment to EAD in acting as its documentation maintenance agency. EAD supports links to all types of sound, video, and graphic files, as well as textual boilerplate information. Most importantly, EAD provides a solid yet flexible structure for the varied nature of archival collections, allowing for easy sharing of information between repositories and other descriptive sites, as well as automated export and import of finding aids.
With BIBFRAME -- another extensible framework -- on the horizon to replace MARC records in general library catalogs, the archival community has been ahead of the curve by adopting an XML-based standard more than a decade ago. EAD continues to evolve according to its users needs.
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