Yesterday I was in London helping to run an ‘Introduction to EAD’ training day on behalf of the Data Standards Group and the London Region of the Society of Archivists. The last exercise I did with the delegates was to look at a randomly-selected set of resources based around EAD finding aids (courtesy of the EAD Implementor Listing maintained by the EAD Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists). One of the issues that came up was to do with labelling: both of parts of archival descriptions and of search options. Some of the sites are moving away from using the standard ISAD(G)/EAD headings for the descriptions, so that ‘Scope and Content’ becomes ‘Content’, which we agreed might be more meaningful for users of the services (although possibly confusing when comparing records from different sources). The search options and consequences of following links are sometimes not obvious without going ahead and testing them out, and the results displays were sometimes similarly confusing, even to a room full of archivists.
One of the sites we were looking at was that of the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam. We became distracted by its excellent ‘Today in History’ feature, which is rather like the Archives Hub’s ‘Collection of the Month’, but with the whole year’s supply of featured documents prepared in advance. The text for the last week’s worth is available through the Instiute’s Today in History RSS feed. Today’s document is entitled ‘Painkillers for Spirit Wrestlers‘, but it was the entry for 28th February that really woke everyone up at the end of the day.
On the way home I found myself looking at another label, this time on an electricity socket on the train:
It made me wonder why the railway company had felt compelled to attach the label. Had commuters been bringing their hairdryers on to the train in the mornings and blow-drying their hair? Or perhaps some entrepreneur had brought an electric kettle on to the train and started selling cups of tea to the other passengers. With a large cup of tea now costing