Exporting, Editing, and Importing EAD in Archivists’ Toolkit: A Checklist

Sometimes, it can be extremely helpful to take EAD XML files out of Archivists’ Toolkit to edit them.  Maybe you have a contents list that you generated from a spreadsheet, or maybe you want to quickly change 500 “otherlevel”s to “file”s.  Since there are so many small steps, I created a checklist.  Using the checklist will help to make sure that information doesn’t get lost and that the record looks like you want it to.

First, a word of caution: when the record is imported back into AT, it will overwrite all refids with new ones.  So if you’re using those refids elsewhere, this won’t work.  Additionally, before exporting the record, it’s important to copy down information that won’t be included in the export.  This includes any repository processing notes and linked accession records.  This is also why it’s important to make sure that “internal only” notes are included in the export.  Also, the file won’t re-import with barcode information, because barcodes are kept as non-valid attributes and violate the importer’s validation rules.

We found that when exporting, AT added information that we didn’t want when we re-imported it, or imported information to different fields.  For example, at Tamiment, we use the container summary to on the “Basic Info” tab to record the container summary.  When this is exported, it maps to <extent> in <physdec>.  When it’s re-imported into the Toolkit, it does not go into the container summary but becomes a Physical Description Note.  You can also change some of these in the EAD XML file, instead of after importing into AT.

You can find my checklist here or below

Before Exporting EAD:

  • Write down which accession records are linked to the resource record
  • Record any information in repository processing note(s)
  • Do NOT check “Suppress components and notes when marked ‘internal only’” when exporting the original resource record

Before importing EAD:

  • If there are barcodes: do a find/replace on containers (using dot matches all) to delete barcodes
  • Make sure that the record it is replacing has been deleted

After importing EAD:

Basic Description:

  • Separate the prefix and numeric sections of the Resource Identifier into separate fields
  • Remove bulk dates from Date Expression field (this may also need to be done at the series or sub-series level)
  • Copy the text from the General Physical Description note into the Container Summary


  • Remove General Physical Description note

Finding Aid Data:

  • Remove call number from Finding Aid Title field
  • Remove “Collection processed by” in Author field


  • Re-enter barcodes


  • Re-link resource record to accession record(s)

2 thoughts on “Exporting, Editing, and Importing EAD in Archivists’ Toolkit: A Checklist

  1. Love the checklist! I’ve followed very similar steps in the past, but I’ve also done the following:

    Check language notes/codes: the AT takes the first language code it finds per level of description and uses that. It drops everything else! To combat this, I convert my files prior to uploading them to the AT and park the language note in an note. After the import, I change it back to a language note.

    Make sure that you don’t have elements in the AT before you export. If you do, the AT strips out the @href attributes for some reason, rendering the EAD invalid. I don’t have a good way to combat this right now, but I’d love to know if anyone else does. I also don’t think that the AT always had this problem, but it’s definitely an issue with updates 14 and 15.

    Maybe don’t delete those barcodes? Since we don’t use @label to identify things like “Mixed Materials” or “Maps” or “Realia”, etc., and since the AT will assign any instances as being “Mixed Materials” if the @label is missing anyway, here’s what I do: I stash the barcodes into the @label attribute; after import into the AT, I run a simple SQL update that sets any barcode = instanceType that has 14 numbers and nothing else in the instanceType (since that’s how long our barcodes are), and a second update that sets all instanceType = “Mixed materials” for those same instanceTypes that currently have 14 numbers.

    P.S. It looks like the ArchivesSpace EAD importer doesn’t overwrite the refIDs, but I’m not sure about note IDs, etc.

  2. Pingback: Chaos —> Order | Round-tripping EAD, updated — how to not lose those barcodes

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