The use of EAG in Archives Portal Europe
The Encoded Archival Guide (EAG) is the third of the international Encoded Archival Standards next to EAD and EAC-CPF. Contrary to the latter two, which are maintained and developed further by the Technical Subcommittee on Encoded Archival Standards (TS-EAS) at the Society of American Archivists, EAG is currently maintained and developed further by the Working Group on Standards (WGoS) of the Archives Portal Europe Foundation (APEF) in close cooperation with TS-EAS.
The current version of EAG is EAG 2012, which was developed during the APEx project, and - in the context of the release of EAC-CPF 2.0 in August 2022 - the WGoS is working on a major revision of EAG as well. Their work can be followed via GitHub. The WGoS has its own Twitter channel and can be contacted via email at email@example.com.
A common approach
While, in the era of the Internet, a lot of archives might provide their contact details, describe their services, tell users about their institutional history or present their holdings via their own websites, the question of having a standardised approach to describe institutions with archival holdings specifically is of interest in the context of aggregating services such as the Archives Portal Europe, which bring together information from and about institutions from all over the world. Hence it will not come as a surprise, that the idea of a common approach in the form of a standardised XML format to describe institutions with archival holdings was born in the context of the Censo-Guía de los Archivos de España e Iberoamérica. When describing archival fonds and collections with their components as well as the creators of archival materials, Censo-Guía already followed the guidance provided by the International Council on Archives (ICA) as per:
- the General International Standard Archival Description (ISAD(G)) and
- the International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families (ISAAR(CPF)),
Evolution of a standard
What Censo-Guía was missing, however, was a standardised way to describe the more than 50,000 archival institutions from Spain and Latin America gathered in their portal, so that it would be easy for users to navigate and find the most important information, independent from an institution’s origin. Picking up on their use of EAD and EAC-CPF, Censo-Guía’s response to this apparent gap was the creation of the Encoded Archival Guide (EAG 0.2) in 2002. Successfully implemented in their portal, EAG 0.2 then formed the basis for the directory of archival institutions of Archives Portal Europe, when it was first made available online nearly a decade later in 2011. In the meantime, in 2008 to be precise, ICA had published the first edition of the International Standard for Describing Institutions with Archival Holdings (ISDIAH), and the APEx project (Archives Portal Europe network of excellence) responsible for the further development of Archives Portal Europe between 2012 and 2015 built on EAG 0.2 in combination with the additional guidance provided by ISDIAH to establish the current version of EAG 2012. In this version, EAG is currently used within Censo-Guía, Archives Portal Europe and other national and international aggregation projects from the archives, cultural heritage and historical research domains.