These statements are intended as guiding principles to be used
in formulating future enhancements to the EAD DTD. They were developed as
part of the project that led to the EAD 2002 DTD made public in late 2002. These
principles support the objective of facilitating the widest possible use
of EAD. When considering the submission of suggestions for possible change
to the EAD DTD, the EAD Working Group will apply the following guidelines.
Suggestions are not being actively solicited at this time, but prior to the
next update to the EAD DTD, an online suggestions form will be made available,
as was done prior to the most recent update cycle.
For Enhancements to EAD (December
- A goal of EAD is to make archival resources from many institutions accessible
to users. To achieve this goal, EAD must accommodate a wide range of internationally
divergent descriptive practices. The standard must be responsive to clearly
articulated needs across the range of institutional or media-specific archival
- EAD element and attribute names must be as universal as possible in both
language and application to accommodate international interchange. At the
same time, it is important to provide mechanisms to meet specific language
or media output needs.
- EAD addresses information about archival resources that is shared publicly.
It is not a system for collections management activities such as the transfer
of ownership, conservation, exhibition, use, storage or technical processing
- EAD is a data structure and not a data content standard. It does not prescribe
how one formulates the data that appears in any given data element - that
is the role of external national or international data content standards.
The EAD Tag Library illustrates the type of data that is intended
to be included in an element to the extent necessary to correlate that element
to a descriptive area in a particular content standard. At the same time,
care must be taken to ensure compatibility with such external standards.
- EAD is also a data communication format based on SGML/XML syntax. In some
environments, archival description will be created and maintained using technologies
such as relational or object-oriented databases, and EAD will be used principally
as a transfer mechanism. In other situations, archives will manage descriptive
data directly in SGML/XML-based systems. EAD must accommodate both environments.
- EAD focuses on the structural content of archival description, not on its
presentation. However, the standard must provide sufficient mechanisms to
support output in a variety of formats. These may include traditional forms
of finding aids such as registers, inventories, and lists of various sorts,
as well as new output forms for both web display and print.
- The EAD DTD specifies an order and grouping of elements to a limited degree.
These are the internal structures of the DTD. For most output mechanisms
using current technology, the order of elements within an EAD instance is
irrelevant to the output of that data. Changes, as opposed to additions,
to the structure will not be made simply to facilitate some output sequence
- Continuity of structure and content is an important factor in ensuring
the acceptance and continued application of EAD. While the technological
environment for EAD is complex and challenging to many institutions, the
goals of EAD will be best served if technical barriers to its use are minimized.
Changes to the DTD need to be as technically transparent as possible. In
general terms this means a preference for adding rather than replacing elements
and for ensuring that new versions of EAD are backward-compatible.