Something New for Something Old: Innovative Approaches to Managing Archives and Special Collections

December 4-5, 2008 at the Union League of Philadelphia



Overview and Updates

Schedule and Speakers


Information for Attendees


Dan Santamaria
Princeton University

Biographical Statement

Dan Santamaria is Assistant University Archivist for Technical Services at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library at Princeton University. In his current position he oversees accessioning, processing, and descriptive practices. He has overseen the processing of several thousand linear feet of organizational records and personal papers since 2005. He also led the implementation of EAD for the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton and coordinates EAD encoding for the department's collections. He serves on a number of library and university-wide committees and groups related to metadata, digital libraries, and digital resources. He is a member of MARAC and SAA, serves as the EAD Roundtable liaison to SAA's Technical Subcommittee on Descriptive Standards (TSDS), and has made numerous presentations at meetings and conferences. He also teaches an SAA workshop on efficient processing methods that addresses changes in descriptive practices associated with minimal processing. He co-authored a case study of the implementation of DACS that appeared in the Spring/Summer 2008 issue of the American Archivist.

Dan has previously worked at the New York Public Library and both the Special Collections Library and the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. He holds an MSI from the University of Michigan's School of Information and a BA in History from Wesleyan University.

member of Cataloging and Description panel

Project Description

The Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, a division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections of the Princeton University Library, houses the Princeton University Archives and a highly regarded collection of 20th-century public policy papers. The more than 500 hundred collections and 30,000 linear feet of archival and manuscript material in its possession are widely used by local, national, and international researchers. More than 2,000 visitors use the Mudd Library's reading room each year, and its staff field another 2,000 electronic, mail, and telephone inquiries annually.

In the fall of 2007 staff at the Mudd Library reached a goal of providing online access to all of the Mudd Library's collections. This initiative involved a number of discrete projects, including several ambitious processing projects, and a data conversion project resulting in the conversion of all legacy electronic finding aids to Encoded Archival Description.

Most significantly, basic descriptive data and location and holding information was created for all 335 collections, totaling more than 13,000 linear feet, held within the Princeton University Archives. This data allowed for the completion of collection-level MARC cataloging for all collections lacking descriptive records. The MARC records were then converted to EAD, primarily through the use of XSLT stylesheets and Terry Reese's MarcEdit software. Previously more than two-thirds of the collections within the University Archives were not represented by any descriptive record online.

With the new EAD finding aids, descriptive records for all of Mudd's collections are discoverable in the Princeton University Library’s OPAC, the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections' EAD website, union catalogs and databases such as OCLC's WorldCat and ArchiveGrid, and via common internet search engines such as Google and Yahoo. As of November 2008, 504 records for Mudd Library collections are available.

Staff continue to add to the descriptive records through the creation of series, box, or file-level inventories. The Mudd Library has also revised accessioning procedures in order to ensure that both collection-level MARC records and EAD finding aids are produced at the time of accessioning. Our commitment to descriptive standards and willingness to embrace new methodologies were essential in the success of the projects. We view these initiatives as quick, relatively low-cost and non-staff intensive ways to enhance access to our collections. They have also led us to develop a view of description as an iterative process. We are able to expand or revise descriptions as collections are processed. We also view the descriptive records produced during this process as forming the initial descriptive infrastructure for digital library projects. We plan to use the EAD records to provide access to digital surrogates of material in our collections and to explore additional ways for users to interact with finding aids and the material that they represent.

Background and Links

Amsterdam municipal archives
    Report, Digitizing Simplified
    Example finding aid

Max J. Evans. "Archives of the People, by the People, for the People." American Archivist (Fall-Winter 2007): 387-400. (SAA members can access this article online here.)

EAD@10 symposium presentations by Michelle Light, The Endangerment of Trees, and Mark Matienzo, Cheeseburgers With Everything - Context, Content, and Connections in Archival Description. Available on Society of American Archivists website at



Last updated November 25, 2008 Questions may be directed to Laura Blanchard,