Daniel Pitti

L-80: Implementing Encoded Archival Description

6-10 March 2006


1)   How useful were the pre-course readings?

1: The readings were at times demanding and at times a little daunting, but prepared me well for the week -- even though I wasn’t able to devote much time to them. 2: Very useful. The pre-course readings contained great background information. 3: Readings offered a thorough and often intimidating introduction to a subject that was new to many in the course. Arriving and working directly with the material relieved my pre-course anxiety considerably. 4: They were very useful. 5: Not all of the readings were absolutely necessary in order to succeed in the course, but I’m glad that I was exposed to them. 6: They were very useful. 7: The readings were essential preparation for the course. 8: Quite. 9: Daunting because of my own previous lack of general knowledge of the field, but useful as preparatory reading to the concepts introduced and explicated in the classroom. 10: The readings were quite helpful in preparing me for the course. I had already read several of the assigned readings. 11: The class readings were helpful, but practice is much more useful.


2)   Were the course syllabus and other materials distributed in class useful (or will they be so in the future, after you return home)?

1: Very much appropriate and useful. They will becomes the backbone of my encoding work. 2: Course materials distributed were very relevant to the course and will be of great value to my institution. 3: Yes. 4: The syllabus was excellent. 5: Very useful. Will continue to be useful. 6: Yes. 7: The course handbook was used effectively during the course, and will continue to be a useful reference in the future. 8: Yes. Especially useful will be the EAD-related programs. 9: Very useful -- invaluable, essential. I’ll be relying on the course handbook for the foreseeable future. 10: The handbook which DP prepared for the course was quite helpful. 11: The readings, handbook, and DP’s examples were all relevant to the course. I will use them as a guide when I convert my next finding aid to EAD.


3)   What aspects of the course content were of the greatest interest or relevance for your purposes? Was the intellectual level of the course appropriate?

1: The actual EAD tags were of greatest interest and relevance, though now I know I need the second course to completely meet my goals. 2: The intellectual level of the course was appropriate. The greatest interest to me was the way in which the course was arranged and how each day built on lessons from the previous days. 3: Hands-on practice with the expert guidance of the instructor was invaluable. My professional training omitted this material. It is not frequently taught elsewhere. 4: The finding aid conversion. The entire class was well paced. 5: All aspects were of interest. Yes. 6: The actual practice encoding was the most useful aspect. The course level was appropriate. 7: The encoding of a finding aid was the most valuable aspect of the course. Its intellectual level was appropriate. 8: The practical aspects. The history and political discussions were of interest as well. 9: The most interesting and relevant aspect of the course was the practical instruction, with hands-on learning through working towards achievable goals that reinforced the teaching and extended our competence, and built up skills. Very useful contextualization of the genesis and historical development of EAD and its practical application. Made me see my work in a completely different way. 10: I have been a practicing archivist/manuscripts curator for 17 years. Although I have produced or directed the production of more than 70 finding guides, none of them was encoded in EAD. I was a bit nervous about learning encoding technology, but the instructor made it very “learnable” for me. 11: I was challenged throughout the entire week. Having the chance to work on my own finding aid was satisfying.


5)   What did you like best about the course?

1: The comradery among the students. We really helped each other through this, and DP was relaxed and confident enough in his own teaching to let us help each other. 2: Small classroom setting, material and content covered, and the instructor. 3: Instructor’s mastery of the subject matter, droll sense of humor, and generosity with our blunders. 4: Working with others in the class. 5: The atmosphere set by the instructor. Time he spent with students individually. 6: The instructor was great, and I learned a lot. 7: DP’s skill at communicating technical concepts with clarity and precision, not to mention humor, was the course’s greatest pleasure. 8: The combination of working together and individual projects. I liked doing the Rostov finding aid and figuring out the one I brought with me. DP was terrific. 9: The instructor was superb: erudite, charming, witty, relaxed. He was immensely patient and encouraging. Always made me feel the task of EAD was within my grasp. Did not rush ahead. The personal instruction at our terminals was great. DP is a mage. He makes RBS a center of excellence. 10: I appreciated DP’s emphasis on the fact that the job of an archivist has always been to arrange, describe, and make available to the researcher our unique materials. EAD allows us to make our finding guides, and our collections, available to the research community. DP reminded us that good arrangement and description are the important elements in producing good finding aids -- not EAD tags. I totally appreciated his efforts at making a tedious subject easy to understand by someone who is not tremendously technically literate. 11: Meeting new people and sharing ideas with them.


6)   How could the course have been improved?

1: I cannot think of a single improvement to suggest. 2: N/A. 3: View more high quality EADs by multiple institutions in order to get a better sense of best practices. Heck, throw in a bad one, too. 4: More on linking to images and external files. 5: I feel that if the class lasted two or three more days, I would return home with a great deal more confidence in my abilities. 6: Longer so it would cover more. 7: Some discussion of XLS would be useful, although time constraints probably make that addition to the course impractical. 8: A little more concision in the lectures. 9: It far surpassed my expectations. Difficult to say how the course itself could be improved. It would be good to think that one day I’ll be as good a teacher as DP. 11: DP is an excellent instructor. He is prepared, and he engages the class in discussion. He will happily answer all your questions. In addition, he spends an equal amount of time helping everyone in the class.


8)   If you attended the Sunday and/or Monday night lectures, were they worth attending?

1: I attended Sunday, and it was very much worthwhile. 2: Yes. I particularly enjoyed the Monday night lecture on Jane Eyre. 3: I tried to attend every evening activity, and all were worthwhile. 5: Perhaps because of my specific career path and interests, Sunday night’s lecture didn’t appeal to me. Not being a “rare book person,” I didn’t attend many of the evening events. If they’d been more of interest, I would have gone to more of them. 6: Yes. 8: Sunday -- yes. John Buchtel’s talk was fabulous. 9: Yes, very good. 10: I attended both lectures, and I appreciated both speakers and their presentations. I particularly enjoyed the presentation by JB on Jane Eyre. 11: Sunday night lecture was well worth the time. It was nice to start the week off with Terry Belanger greeting us.

9) If you attended a Museum Night, was the time profitably spent?

1: Not for us doing EAD. I think some of these evening activities need to address the interests of those of us doing archives management. 2: Yes. 3: If only the videos available for viewing all had good production values. The one we picked was just a slide lecture on film, complete with clicking sounds from when the narrator advanced the slides. No doubt other films are better. 5: N/A. 6: They were interesting. 8: N/A. 9: Yes, most enjoyable and useful. Filled gaps in my knowledge, clarified things I was unsure about. 10: I attended both the “Paper” and “Printing” nights. I learned new things both evenings. 11: Museum Night was interesting. The displays/exhibits were well done.


10) Did you get your money’s worth? Any final thoughts?

1: Yes, I consider it well worth the money. 2: Absolutely! Wonderful course, highly recommend! 3: Absolutely! I can’t wait to come back! 4: Yes, the money was well spent. Consider those people that have special diet needs. Take a step back and look at the website. It is too “text heavy.” Six months to a year down the road, survey class members and see if you can find one or two where the class has made a significant impact on their professional life. Then create a “featured” testimony for the course. The testimony could include the person’s picture. 5: Yes. Very worth the time and money spent. Great instructor! 6: Yes. Knowing something about encoding finding aids before you take the class makes it much more productive. 7: Any course given by DP would surely be profitable and enjoyable. 8: Yes. I would recommend that the student make an effort to find an archival findings aid that fits DP’s specifications, and become thoroughly familiar with its structure before arriving. And bring a copy stand. 9: Yes. Definitely. If you’re considering EAD but are wary, this course will not only de-mystify the topic -- you’ll also have fun. 10: Yes -- this was a week well spent. I appreciated DP’s thoughtful presentation and his patience and good humor in helping 11 people complete the tedious task of encoding finding aids. 11: Yes. Every penny was well spent.

Number of respondents: 11


Leave                       Tuition                    Housing                   Travel

Institution                 Institution                 Institution                 Institution

gave me leave            paid tuition               paid housing              paid travel

81%                            63%                            63%                            81%

I took vaca-                I paid tui-                  I paid for my              I paid my own

tion time                    tion myself                 own housing              travel

18%                            9%                              27%                            18%

N/A: self-                   N/A: Self-                   N/A: stayed                N/A: lived

employed, re-             employed,                  with friends               nearby

tired, or had              retired, or                  or lived at

summers off              scholarship                home

0%                              27%                            1%                              0%

There were six archivist/manuscript librarians (54%); one rare book librarian (9%); one general librarian with some rare book duties (9%); and three persons with “other” occupations (27%): “Digital Services”; “Librarian/archivist at a music research Collection”; and “Digital Production Center.”