Archive for October, 2013

Sample EAD Finding Aids Now Available on EADiva!

The contents of this post relate to EAD 2002.

Thanks to generous and quick responses by Syracuse University Libraries Special Collections, University of Connecticut’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, and the Thomas and Katherine Detre Library and Archives, EADiva now has a selection of “live” EAD samples, actual files being used by actual repositories.

Some students reading EADiva have asked for these and I think they’re a great resource for anyone who wants to see how the elements function in the real world. I’m hoping that even more repositories decide to participate, but these five finding aids are a great start.

What can you do with these? Well, you can view them on the site, download the XML file, and look at how the repository’s catalog displays the finding aid to the public. If you download them, please make private use only, of course.

If you have Archivists’ Toolkit installed locally you can import the EAD files and examine the resources created by each.

You may try your hand at creating XSL Transformations for the files. Besides using the W3 Schools, try this XSLT tutorial in the basics. Taking some time to learn about XPATH will make XSL much easier.

How to Install Archivists’ Toolkit With a Local XAMPP Database on Your Computer

The contents of this post relate to EAD 2002.

With pictures!

(Disclaimers–this is not for an institutional setting. Also, this is geared toward Windows users. Specifically, I’m installing XAMPP on a Windows 7 machine. I’ve installed it on XP as well and still have an XP installation running at work. There are other ways to install & run AT locally. This is what I do.)

Installing Archivists’ Toolkit on your own computer makes sense for a lot of budding archivists. If we’re not using it at work, our free time may be the best way to build relevant experience. But why not just use the sandbox database which AT has graciously provided?

A few reasons to have the database installed locally:

  1. You want to keep your experiments private or are working with non-public data.
  2. You want to be able to work offline.
  3. You’re trying to create something more permanent and don’t want to risk its deletion by another user.
  4. You’re worried that the sandbox might someday go away.
  5. You can use phpMyAdmin to easily backup the database and move it elsewhere.
  6. You want a little phpMyAdmin experience or are interested in running other things on a local database

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Install XAMPP on your computer

What is XAMPP? It’s a simplified Apache distribution with PHP, MySQL, and Perl. The Windows version includes Apache, MySQL, PHP + PEAR, Perl, mod_php, mod_perl, mod_ssl, OpenSSL, phpMyAdmin, Webalizer, Mercury Mail Transport System for Win32 and NetWare Systems v3.32, Ming, FileZilla FTP Server, mcrypt, eAccelerator, SQLite, and WEB-DAV + mod_auth_mysql, so there’s a lot more you can do with it. For example, I run locally-hosted WordPress sites where I edit themes and such (I hand-wrote the theme for on a local site).

If you don’t know what that means, don’t panic. It’s a small server you can run on your computer. It won’t be hooked up to the internet, so you don’t have to worry about people breaking in and you can use it whether or not you’re online.

Scroll down on the windows download page and select the download option. Since we’re doing this easy-style, select the Installer option below. This will be a .exe file.

The download link will likely take you to SourceForge, which is a legitimate download site. Once you’ve downloaded the installation file, double-click like any program you’ve installed before. You may get a warning that firewall or antivirus will slow down installation. That’s fine, I just chose to keep them on anyway.

During setup, you’ll have an option of what you want to install. I recommend installing everything it offers. At the least you’ll need MySQL and phpMyAdmin (Apache and PHP cannot be unchecked). I chose NOT to learn more about Bitnami, which can help one install WordPress and more on the computer.

XAMPP will then install on your computer. It may take a while.

A picture of XAMPP slowly installing

When XAMPP has finished installing, choose to start the control panel. You will always need the control panel to be running to use Archivists’ Toolkit.

A picture of the completion screen for XAMPP with the option ticked to start the control panel on finishing

In order to set up (or, once installed, turn on) your database, you’ll need to click Start on both Apache and MySQL (arrows below point to the relevant buttons, which currently read Stop, since I’ve already turned it on).

The Apache and MySQL functions have been turned on. They're already displaying Stop which has been turned on

When you do this the first time, you may get the following error message from the Windows firewall.

An image of the windows firewall error you may encounter

That’s fine, allow it to connect.

Step 2: Setting up a Local database for Archivists’ Toolkit

Now, go to http://localhost/phpmyadmin/ in your browser (this link will only work if you’ve already installed and activated XAMPP). You may see a notice that your root user doesn’t have a password setup. As long as you’re just running this locally, it doesn’t matter. You probably don’t need to upgrade phpMyAdmin, if it’s a slightly older version.

Click the Databases tab at the top and use the create database box to create your database as below. I’m calling mine “atdatabase.” I simply selected “Collation” as the type.

An image of the database creation screen. atdatabase is entered in the Create Database field and Collation is selected

Under the Users tab, create a new user. I chose to create one simply called atuser with the password eadiva. I clicked the Check All option to give atuser access to all the databases (this is a bit of a short-cut, but for the purposes of running AT it works just fine). Click “Go” at the bottom right corner to create the user.

An image of creating a new user and assigning it privileges

After the database and user have been created, we’ll switch over to installing Archivists’ Toolkit itself. Leave the XAMPP control panel open and on.

Step 3: Install Archivists’ Toolkit and Initialize the Database

Download the most recent update of release 2.0 and execute the installation file.

An image of the Archivists Toolkit installer

Walk through the basic installation steps.

Then open C:/Program Files (x86)/Archivists Toolkit 2.0 (or wherever your program files are stored). Execute Maintenance Program 2.0.exe.

An image of the Maintenance Program file within the Archivists Toolkit folder

Select “Initialize a blank database.”

Initialize a blank database is checked

Enter the location of your database, the username and password, and the type.

An image of the various login information written below entered into the appropriate field

The information entered in the image above is:


Your database location should begin with jdbc:mysql://localhost/ and be followed by the name of your database.

The next screen will prompt you to enter a repository name:

an image of the repository name fields, both for a long and formal repository title and a short form

Call it whatever you like, but be aware that it’ll require work to change later. The next screen prompts you to enter a username and password. Enter something you’ll remember or *gasp* write it down (I would never advocate for this for a real repository or an important password, but this is just a local installation of AT). I use my initials for both.

Then click Finish at let the software initialize your database. This will create the tables that AT needs to function. It may take a little while. During all of this, you’ll need to have had your XAMPP turned on or else the database can’t initialize.

Step 4: Set up Archivists’ Toolkit

When done initializing, open the newly-installed Archivists’ Toolkit.

It will require you to enter the database login information. As before, for mine, it’s:


and click Save.

Connection settings image for the database

It will then prompt you for the username and password you created during initialization (the ones for which I used my initials).

Once in, you can start using Archivists’ Toolkit. Your initial password will give you superuser (fullest) access to the software. You may Setup -> Users to create users with a variety of privileges and test out what you can and can’t do.

How to use AT once you’ve installed a local copy is a whole ‘nother tutorial series.

Step 6: How to start Archivists’ Toolkit next time

When you finish with AT the first time, simply exit out and close XAMPP. You will have to open XAMPP and press the Quit button in order to close it.

In order to restart AT, you’ll need to start XAMPP first. Simply open it from your Programs list or wherever you’ve put a shortcut. Turn on Apache and MySQL again just as you did before.

When restarting XAMPP, be sure to turn on both Apache and MySQL

Now you can open AT. This time it will automatically access the database and simply prompt you for your login.

Should you wish to create and initialize multiple databases or to access both the sandbox AND your local database from your AT installation, you’ll have the option to “Select Server” when logging in, which lets you change the server you’ll be logging into.

I’ve tried to make this tutorial thorough and heavily-illustrated, since once you have AT running it doesn’t take nearly as much technical savvy to use. Please comment below or contact me if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer and clarify the tutorial.

Code4Lib Article on EAD Tag Usage Analysis

The contents of this post relate to EAD 2002.

In the newest issue (22) of the Code4Lib included a fascinating article analyzing EAD tag usage across repositories. The team analyzed EAD-encoded finding aids, using the beta ArchivesGrid discovery system to document usage and more. The article includes both raw data about how often things were used, or repeated, in finding aids. The authors note that “not all elements are created equally,” so we needn’t expect, say, 50%+ usage of <frontmatter> (which is actually down at 37%) because it can be entirely generated using information from <eadheader>.

It’s definitely worth reading to see what current (perhaps not best) practices are across 120,000+ documents. The authors address not only % of usage of such heavily-used tags as <unitdate>—which was not used as often as I thought it would have been within <did> (73%)—but also the variance in descriptive practices which may make it less useful for sorting. For example, if <unittitle> is “Records” or “Reports,” searching that field along is not going to produce useful results unless, say, the <persname> or <corpname> or other relevant field is included as well.

Also, thanks M. Bron, M. Proffitt and B. Washburn for the EADiva recommendation.