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Hornbake Library
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742
Tel: 301-405-9212
Fax: 301-314-2709
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About ArchivesUM

(EAD finding aids at the University of Maryland Libraries)

Introduction to ArchivesUM

ArchivesUM is the database that manages the finding aids (indexes) to manuscript and archival collections at the University of Maryland Libraries using Encoded Archival Description (EAD). It also includes abstracts to collections for which complete finding aids are not yet available in electronic format. Access to complete finding aids allows researchers to better plan their research visits or make long-distance information requests, and to gain a clearer understanding of the relationships between collections at the University of Maryland.

Included in the ArchivesUM project are finding aids from the following units within the University of Maryland Libraries:

What is Encoded Archival Description (EAD)?

Encoded Archival Description (EAD) is a standard used to mark up (encode) finding aids that reflects the hierarchical nature of archival collections and that provides a structure for describing the whole of a collection, as well as its components (Society of American Archivists Glossary). EAD is a subset of XML (eXtensible Markup Language). EAD enables archival finding aids to be navigated and searched in ways that their printed counterparts cannot.

Why use Encoded Archival Description?

The University of Maryland Libraries is committed to providing efficient and effective reference service to its users. In order to do this, the staff of the Archives and Manuscripts Department determined that Encoded Archival Description would be the most flexible and long-lasting form of electronic text encoding for their finding aids.

How do you create finding aids in Encoded Archival Description?

We use a two-step process:

How do you make the finding aids available online?

Once staff convert the files to XML, they upload them to the server using an administrative interface. Via the administrative interface, the repository editor can upload, delete, and convert finding aids to HTML. This pre-processing of the XML document was built into the system so that the finding aids (some as long as 300 print pages), do not have to be converted to HTML at the time of the request. Two "views" of the finding aids are available. The first view segments the finding aid into sections that can be easily navigated on a computer. Navigation cues on both the left-hand side and the top of the finding aid screen ensure that the person viewing the finding aid will always be able to see information in context. A "full finding aid" view is also available for printing and more free-form browsing.

What are the Benefits of this System?


Development Team


The following people provided input, time, and consultation on various aspects of the ArchivesUM system, and their help is greatly appreciated.