UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture: Mary Lee Harris Papers

UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture: Mary Lee Harris Papers

Welcome back!

I have begun my Facebook postings, which is part of my Graduate Assistance and helps show the public the papers I am processing from the Mary Lee Harris papers. It’s a great tool, especially in these early stages of processing since the archivists and I are the only ones who get to see this until I organize the entire paper collection!

Besides Facebook posts and updating this blog, another world I have delved into is the great and wonderful METADATA! I have to admit, I was very daunted when I first looked this over. Where do I even begin, what does this mean, how does it end? Luckily, I have great resources and in a short amount of time I find myself able to read (and dare I say) understand the XML Metadata that is brought to me. (Though I wouldn’t put this to a graded test.)

We start this metadata adventure with XML (eXtensible Markup Language) which is, in basic terms, the metalanguage for creating and defining a more specific markup language. In essence, everything you see online has raw data in the background. How do you or I read it, and more importantly, how do we read it through different machines that need a common code? That’s where you get things like HTML and XML. HTML deals with content and structure as well as the format, but cannot be customized like XML. XML also deals with the content and structure of documents but is much more extensible. For example, you could go and create your own “flavor” of XML while you could not with HTML. The XML schema is defined by a Document Type Definition, or DTD. It is also machine-readable! You can have many different types of programs (“flavors”) that display or interpret XML; the main one that we use in this field is EAD. EAD is Encoded Archival Descriptions and is used as the data standard for describing archives.

Now, without getting to complex, I should say that I won’t necessarily be writing this out to start, but it is helpful to read and understand because this is the language used for us to take a processed collection and display it for you to see online.

I have also begun my work in Archivists’ Toolkit, which lets me type everything out like I am now and it converts this to the metadata language to display online.  I have just started with Archivists’ Toolkit so expect wonderful things in the future!

While you are web-surfing, check out the wonderful Facebook page for the UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture to get a better idea of not only my collection, but other collections and events going on as well!

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