Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tips and Tricks: Resources

In migrating your legacy data into the AT your repository might have collections that lack both a finding aid and MARC record but yet still need to get into the AT as resource records. Rather than take the time to manually create these resource records in the AT one by one, it would be helpful to come up with a means for importing this information in a batch process. MSSA had over 250 such records that we had to bring into the AT. Here is how we did it.

The legacy data that we had to address, consisting mostly of what can loosely be described as deaccessions (i.e. collections that were transferred, destroyed, never came in, and/or who knows what), was in a Paradox database. Given the orderly data structure, we decided to to generate simple EAD finding aids for each collection using a mail merge and then batch import into the AT.

The first step was to export the data from our Paradox database into Excel. We then filtered the information to select only the specific collection records needed and deleted any unnecessary data elements. We then modified the data bit, in this case creating a column for filename in addition to the other data elements present (e.g. collection number, title, note, and disposition). This served as the data source for the merge.

Next we modified our existing EAD template to include only the basics needed for import into the AT (namely level, resource identifier, title, dates, extent, and language), as well as the information present in our Paradox database to distinguish it as a deaccession (e.g. note and disposition). We then opened the EAD template in Word and set up a mail merge, inserting the elements from our Excel data source into the appropriate places in the Word document. Here is a partial view of the Word EAD template:

Then we completed the merge of the data elements in Word and saved the individual finding aids with appropriate filenames. Here is a partial view of one of the resulting finding aids:

The final step was to import the finding aids into the AT. To distinguish these resources in the AT we checked them as Internal Only in the Basic Description tab and modified appropriate note fields as needed.

All in all the process proved very easy and was much faster than trying to enter this data manually. The only real drawback was having to save 250 separate finding aids.

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