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Information Science Assistant Professor Alex Poole Explores Digital Curation and Innovation in Digital Humanities 

May 12, 2017

Library and information science (LIS) professionals play increasingly vital roles in curating research data in a variety of academic fields. Alex Poole, PhD, an assistant professor of information science at Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics, examines these innovations in his paper recently published in the Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST), titled “’A Greatly Unexplored Area’: Digital Curation and Innovation in the Digital Humanities” (abstract below).
Examining scholarly teams who received Start-Up Grants (SUGs) from the National Endowment for the Humanities’s Office of Digital Humanities, Poole shows that it is essential for scholars in the humanities and social sciences to embrace technology in their work both to revisit familiar and to broach new research questions. Poole, who teaches in the College’s MS in Library and Information Science program, centers his research on digital curation, digital humanities, archives and records, and diversity and inclusivity in the LIS profession. 

Prior to joining Drexel’s faculty in 2016, Poole served as teaching fellow at the UNC School of Information and Library Science, where he taught in areas such as archives and records management, digital humanities, and information resources and services. He was recently appointed to the Society of American Archivist’s (SAA) Graduate Archival Education Subcommittee for a three-year term. 

In addition to JASIST, his work has been published in Digital Humanities Quarterly, Journal of Documentation, American Archivist, and Archival Science and is forthcoming in Information and Culture: A Journal of History. He received the Theodore Calvin Pease Award from the Society of American Archivists for “The Strange Career of Jim Crow Archives: Race, Space, and History in the Mid-Twentieth-Century South.” He earned a B.A. from Williams College (Highest Honors, History), an M.A. from Brown University (History), and an MLIS (Beta Phi Mu) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 


New types of digital data, tools, and methods, for instance those that cross academic disciplines and domains, those that feature teams instead of single scholars, and those that involve individuals from outside the academy, enables new forms of scholarship and teaching in digital humanities. Such scholarship promotes reuse of digital data, provokes new research questions, and cultivates new audiences. Digital curation, the process of managing a trusted body of information for current and future use, helps maximize the value of research in digital humanities. Predicated on semistructured interviews, this naturalistic case study explores the creation, use, storage, and planned reuse of data by 45 interviewees involved with 19 Office of Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant (SUG) projects. Interviewees grappled with challenges surrounding data, collaboration and communication, planning and project management, awareness and outreach, resources, and technology. Overall this study explores the existing digital curation practices and needs of scholars engaged in innovative digital humanities work and to discern how closely these practices and needs align with the digital curation literature.