Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Society of American Archivists Research Forum

Publication Date



Utah State University Libraries Cataloging and Metadata Services unit investigated the discoverability of local Encoded Archival Description (EAD) finding aids using different levels of description. The research team created two nearly identical versions of the same finding aid for five collections and posted them online. The only difference in the finding aids was the level to which the collection contents were described. For each collection, one version of the finding aid was described at the file (box or folder) level and the other version was described at the item level. Over a year later the team pulled the analytics for each guide and assessed which descriptive level was most frequently accessed along with what search terms were used and where those terms were found in the finding aid. Data showed that finding aids described at the item level were, on average, 61x more discoverable than finding aids described to the file (box or folder) level. Additionally, when search terms were known, they were most often found in the container lists and were significantly likely to be personal name Presenters will briefly discuss the methodology of the project, dive into the major results discovered, and look at how the outcomes will be used to better inform workflow and processes.

Additional Files

Level Down to Level Up_SAA_2022.pptx (2817 kB)



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