Literature Review

Gilliland-Swetland, A. (2000). Enduring Paradigm, New Opportunities: The Value of the Archival Perspective in the Digital Environment. CLIR. Retrieved from http://www.clir.org/pubs/abstract/pub89abst.html.

The archival perspective focuses on managing information in a way that preserves evidential value, context, and original order. In this field, the archivist is an advocate with a long-term vision for how to preserve the integrity of information and articulates precisely what the continuing value of that information is. The archival perspective is a fluid and inclusive approach to managing a wide range of formats of information using best practices that have been formulated to encompass all types of materials - not just paper. We are moving toward a future where there will be little, or difficult, distinction between the physical objects and their digital counterparts as “originals”. Because the archival approach is not specific to a particular format of information, one can see how it could translate nicely to the format-fluid digital information environment. Because digital objects are often duplicated into various and differing versions, there is great concern over how to best preserve data integrity and authenticity. The archival perspective has already established methods of retaining context in an environment without clearly defined arrangement. The question that remains is: How exactly can context and authenticity be preserved in the vast, unmanaged digital information environment that is the internet? Perhaps the answer is in increased interoperability - both in format and metadata.


Banerjee, K. (2002). How does XML help Libraries? Computers in Libraries,22(8). Retrieved from http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/sep02/Banerjee.htm

This article asserts that XML helps libraries because it allows metadata resources to be more searchable and thus more accessible. Using XML, metadata standards such as EAD, MODS, and Dublin Core have been created to serve the needs of specific communities by structuring data using fields (elements) that relate to the particular content each community deals with. For example, EAD (Encoded Archival Description) is used by archives as a standardized way to communicate the contents of finding aids on the web. This aids researchers by making the contents of finding aids more searchable and, thus, the contents of collections become more readily accessible.


Pitti, D. V. (1999). Encoded Archival Description: An Introduction and Overview. D-Lib Magazine, 5(11). Retrieved from http://www.dlib.org/dlib/november99/11pitti.html

Even though this article was written 11 years ago, it provides an informative background about the creation of and the concept behind the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) standard. EAD is a community-based standard. It was created by members of the archival community in an effort to move towards standardizing finding aids and building union access. Pitti describes EAD as “an archival description communication standard”. In the same way that MARC communicates web-readable bibliographic data, EAD communicates a representation of the intellectual nature and content in finding aids, in a language (XML) readable in the web environment. EAD also has the ability to provide direct access to digital representations of archival material through links to digital objects in finding aids. This is a very useful feature for researchers and other users of archives, especially ones that may accessing their web materials remotely. Pitti states, “Hardware- and software-independent encoding standards offer the only reasonable assurance of enduring information.” He makes the case that XML-based standards are more sustainable and interoperable.