Preservation and Access Virtual Education Laboratory (PAVEL) for digital humanities

This research project led to the September 2013 launch of the Preservation Access and Virtual Education Laboratory (PAVEL), a virtual laboratory featuring digital access and preservation tools. These tools are being integrated into masters’ level coursework to educate students enrolled in UMSI’s Preservation of Information and Archives and Records Management specializations.

Start date: 6/1/2010
End Date: 8/31/2012

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Educating a new generation of digital archivists or curators is essential to create, build, and sustain digital humanities collections and to ensure that they are accessible to humanities scholars in a variety of fields. However, many archivists recognized that a number of students who graduated from archival programs weren’t getting practical experience with necessary software tools through their classes. In light of rapidly evolving software and technology applications, PAVEL aims to teach students more than how to use a specific program, but to give them the skills and ability to transfer that knowledge to multiple kinds of software.

PAVEL features public domain IT tools that have been integrated into five master’s courses for students enrolled in UMSI’s Preservation of Information and Archives and Records Management specializations. The website’s content is available to other universities and programs looking to incorporate digital access tools into their curricula and is also accessible to professionals in archival and access fields. In addition to offering access and preservation tools, the PAVEL site includes information about the technical specifications needed for using the tools, the classes that the tools have been incorporated into and the assignments generated around them, as well as data sets to interface with the tools in order to use them correctly.

Wallace said that many archival institutions were exploring the idea of creating labs, but were working independently of one another while doing it. The key to the UMSI program receiving the grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities was its ability to bring all the tools, information and analysis together and present them in a virtual setting, making access available to all users, not just those who had the software installed on their computer.

UMSI Professor of Information Margaret Hedstrom and Associate Professor of Information Paul Conway also collaborated on this project.

Grants

Preservation and Access Education and Training Program: Preservation and Access Virtual Education Laboratory for Digital Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities; $248,311

 

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. Preservation and Access Education and Training grants are awarded to organizations that offer national or regional (multistate) education and training programs. Grants aim to help the staff of cultural institutions, large and small, obtain the knowledge and skills needed to serve as effective stewards of humanities collections.