Concept for an electronic inventory

Written: 4.3.1996
Published in: Der Archivar 49, 1996, H. 4, Sp. 603-610

The following is an internal paper, written as a contribution to the discussion about the possibilities to make traditional archival finding aids more comfortable for use by application of www- or hypertext technologies. The traditional inventory gives more than a list of records- or series - titels, but with the administrative and the custodial history in the introduction and with the classification-scheme and the arrangement of the descriptions it demonstrate contexts in non-verbal ways. Giving those informations on different levels of description, as the ISAD(G) suggests, the complex structures of the records creation could be represented and combined with flexibel research strategies. Additional informations, that cannot be produced by the tradional finding aids, like links to graphics of organisational structures in different times, to pictures of buildings and people or even to sounds, could be offered.

The aim is to give just that information that is necessary for a certain demand, as concentrated or as detailed as needed and to make available more information about the archival processing than one is used to get today. So also explicite informations about appraisal decisions could be linked to descriptions, This strategy implies a clearer distinction between the analysis of the material followed by the decision about the methods to be applied and the actual treatment of the records.

Repertories, conceived as maps for holdings, seen as landscapes, that is an old image for finding aids. It can become even more valuable in electronic form. The vision of archival finding aids with navigatable meta- information on different levels of concentration could perhaps even give an idea for the not jet percievable descriptive instruments necessary for the archival processing of electronic records. Comments on these ideas are wellcome!

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