We are happy to announce that the *alpha* test version of the EAD DTD (and related files) are now available for distribution. The alpha version is intended to be used for field testing and preliminary implementation by archivists and other interested parties. We are targeting this announcement to subscribers to the EAD Electronic Forum since you represent those most interested in the development and implementation of this new standard.
Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), as applied in this suite of DTDs and related documents, has the potential for revolutionizing the world of finding aids by providing a single standardized encoding through which archival descriptions can be exchanged and used. It should also simplify the process of creating EADs in the future as the use of SGML tools becomes more widespread and better understood.
During this alpha test we will be relying on *you* to provide feedback about how workable this implementation of SGML is for your finding aids. We are particularly interested in the workability of the elements defined and the adequacy of the accompanying documentation. Your constructive comments would be greatly appreciated.
As you begin to implement this version of the EAD DTD, keep in mind that it is the product of a lengthy development effort during which many options and models were considered. It may not reflect the exact structure of the finding aids that you currently produce, but it should provide elements into which you can fit the information you currently capture.
The EAD DTD was designed to be somewhat prescriptive --providing and in some cases requiring that finding aids be structured in a particular way. This will occasionally result in differences between the structure of an encoded archival description and the printed finding aid which has been used as the source for its content. This would only be problematic if you plan to convert a large number of existing paper finding aids into machine-readable form following the EAD DTD.
To implement this application of SGML, you will need various SGML files and support documents. They are all available to you via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) from the anonymous file server at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The host domain of LC's FTP server is: ftp.loc.gov
The files you should transfer using the "get" command are listed below. The "get" command should copy a file to the default directory on the machine you are using locally. The first seven should be transferred as ASCII files, which is normally the default transfer mode for most FTP applications. The last file is a WordPerfect 5.1 document and as such must be transferred in BINARY mode. To change mode enter the command "bin". The command "asc" can be used to return to ASCII mode.
If you do not have access to FTP, you may request a diskette containing these files by contacting the Library of Congress, Network Development and MARC Standards Office (NDMSO), who will be acting as the maintenance agency for this standard. The address and contact information for NDMSO is given below.
We encourage you to experiment with the EAD DTD as soon as possible. The results of the alpha test will be used to prepare for a *beta* test later this year (probably sometime after May 1996). If you know of anyone else interested in this effort, encourage them to subscribe to the EAD electronic forum by sending a subscription message to "[email protected]".