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Category: SAA2008

Big Digital Step For SAA: American Archivist Online

SAA LogoThe Society of American Archivists has officially launched American Archivist Online (also available via the Members Only page once you login to

Here are a few key points that caught my eye from the FAQ :

  • Content is available as PDF files with embedded searchable text (one file per article or section of the journal)
  • It is hosted by MetaPress
  • The online version will be produced in parallel with the print version

What issues are online?

Fall/Winter 2000 (Volume 63 – Number 2) through the most recent issue – Fall/Winter 2007. The FAQ reports that additional back issues will be digitized over time.

How is it structured?

Each journal article is a separate PDF file. Talk about a boon to graduate students and archives professors everywhere! Even the front matter is there separated out – perfect for printing and attaching to your article printouts for future reference. Of course, if you are feeling green (and better at reading on screen than I am) you can bookmark them or save them locally for future reference.

Who can access it?

Officially, only members of SAA and individual or institutional subscribers to the journal can access all available issues. In reality, it appears most of the issues are available to everyone. Currently only the Fall/Winter issues of 2005, 2006 & 2007 restrict access to all the content. Even for these issues there is access to some of the articles – such as the Book Reviews section in both the 2005 and 2007 Fall/Winter issues.

The FAQ claims that non-subscribers must pay a fee to print an article – but I don’t see how they will enforce that. When viewing a PDF of an article from the most recent issue I was able to save it to my local desktop and print it without a problem. Not sure if that is a bug or how it will remain – or if maybe they are talking about official reprints that are sent through the mail?

Other features

  • Try the handy Article Category search links – like this one that shows all the Presidential Addresses.
  • Mark or save articles to your own private lists (if you are logged in)
  • Search the full text – either across the journal or within an individual issue.
  • Subscribe to the RSS feed (I spotted on the All Issues page). The feed includes the article abstract, category, author and source issue information. Be the first archivist on your block to know the instant the new issue is published online!

Final Thoughts

I think that everyone who heard President Adkins announce at SAA in Chicago that the American Archivist was going online was excited (well.. there was lots of clapping – that is for sure). That announcement was a strong indications to me of SAA’s commitment to improving their online offerings.

Finally seeing it available online is even better – action speaks louder than words.

Image Credit: SAA Logo from

SAA2008 Here I Come! After the Revolution: Unleashing the Power of EAD

SAA2008 I got the word just before the holidays – the panel proposal of which I was a part has been accepted for SAA 2008 in San Francisco . The title of the panel is ‘After the Revolution: Unleashing the Power of EAD’ and the working title for my paper/presentation is ‘Visualizing Archival Collections: Leveraging the Power of EAD’.

My co-presenters are Max Evans (currently of the NHPRC, soon to be of the LDS Church Historical Department) and Elizabeth Yakel (of University of Michigan, School of Information). Jodi Allison-Bunnell from Northwest Digital Archives, Orbis Cascade Alliance is our panel Chair.

This is the description of our panel that we submitted with our proposal:

Encoded Archival Description (EAD) was created in 1995 to increase uniformity and interoperability of data about archival collections to facilitate discovery. It has yet to realize that goal: most online finding aids merely recreate paper documents. Speakers will demonstrate how the structured, standardized nature of EAD can form the basis of user-friendly interfaces and finding aids that can accommodate multiple perspectives and utilize graphical and visual interfaces–while faithfully recording and presenting the context, structure, and content of the collection. Panelists will also address the challenges of unleashing the power of EAD, including normalizing XML, the lack of standard values for cross-institutional aggregation of data, and different approaches to subject terms, with a discussion of the technological and practical issues that surround them. The session relates to the SAA strategic priorities of technology and public awareness and engages elemental questions of revolutionary and evolutionary change.

My portion of the panel will focus on my ArchivesZ information visualization project. I will be discussing both the power of this type of graphical interface to archival collections as well as addressing the roadblocks to their practical implementation. My plan is to continue the work I started last Spring over the course of this Spring and Summer – and show off a new version of ArchivesZ in San Francisco (as well as online here of course!).

Here are the descriptions of Max, Elizabeth and Jodi’s planned contributions (cribbed from our proposal submission):

  • Max Evans will explore the fundamental purposes of finding aids and explore what can be done to leverage EAD’s structure to render graphical, informative, and elegant finding aids online.
  • Elizabeth Yakel will discuss usability test findings and how these were incorporated into the EAD-based Polar Bear Expedition Digital Collections to allow communities to engage with collections in new ways.
  • Jodi Allison-Bunnell brings a lively interest in user-centered presentations of finding aids that emerge from her work as manager of a five-state EAD consortium.

I am so pleased and excited. So – who is planning on going to San Fransisco in August? I hope to see you there.

Image Credit: Society of American Archivists, ARCHIVES 2008: Archival R/Evolution & Identities web page.