In January, I posted a query about other archive services' experiences of
CALM, EAD and electronic cataloguing. Here is a brief summary of the responses
I received - the only conclusion that seems obvious is that any decision made
on what type of system to invest in is based on your needs and your budget...
I hope the people who responded don't mind their comments being shared like
this, but it seems that this is quite a frequent area of interest, especially
for smaller repositories.
1. One small local authority repository used a typing pool to convert all old
lists into WP form (a Word 6 database). This database was then partly
converted into RTF and converted into HTML prior to transfer into an intranet
database, and was also partly copied and pasted from Word directly into the
intranet database. The database was then published online, and is also used
for inputting data. It is anticipated that the database will be upgraded at
some point to make it EAD compliant, and another upgrade to XML will enable
interfacing with other databases. The need for compliance with W3C/WAI's Web
Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, conformance level A, was also flagged
2. A full description of the introduction of EAD into Special Collections at
the University of Edinburgh is detailed in the SoA Journal, vol. 24, October
2003. It was pointed out that they do not regard EAD as an 'off-the-shelf
3. One small university archive has started from scratch from CALM. A grant
made the funding to purchase it available. Advantages: functionality,
authority files, accession records, users/ordering, large user community, easy
to instal, few maintenance problems, has been used for converting MARC records
via Access into CALM. Disadvantages: proprietary software, expense, public
interface a little tricky to customise, need to put alot of consideration into
how the online presentation will be structured to ensure that actual
cataloguing is focused and consistent. A planning period of 2-3 months was
recommended for testing, writing cataloguing guidelines etc. before any major
new cataloguing is started.
4. The Government Interoperability Framework was pointed out on a few
occasions. This becomes mandatory for government bodies to comply with by
2005, so it seems sensible to make sure that a new information system is
compatible with the standards that it lays down for ensuring the free
transmission and exchange of data. For archivists, this basically means that
XML is central, and that creating EAD records complies with the standard.
5. One large-scale retroconversion project found problems with trying to use
CALM to accommodate full EAD tagging. Not all CALM fields could be EAD-tagged:
it was found that the ones which could best be tagged were the ones used by
the A2A project. However, it was pointed out by someone else that each archive
should be able to specify which fields would be exported as appropriate to
their needs. Not all repositories will need to export all fields.
6. ADLIB was recommended by one archivist. Advantages: cheaper than CALM, and
just as good, if not better. An internet server module is available, and it is
possible to export data into EAD. ADLIB was also reported on by a small
university, who have conversely had problems using it, with technical
difficulties causing some problems. Still, the cheapness was seen as a good
point by them.
Glasgow University Service was recommended as a university archive with much
experience of using EAD. The same goes for the University of Warwick.
I found the online database of Somerset Archives very useful for a good
example of how CALM can appear online. Other examples I found online were of
Bristol Record Office and Dartington Hall Trust Archive.
The Calm-list serve has also been very useful, proving that the wealth of
experience of using CALM out there can be tapped by non-experts/non-techies.
This is available at JISCMAIL (CALM-LIS).
Any further responses gratefully received!
University of Exeter
Prince of Wales Road
EXETER EX4 4PX
tel: 01392 262096 or direct 01392 263879
fax: 01392 263871
email: [log in to unmask]