Librarians have a unique skill set that translates well into the digital asset management industry. Linda Rouse explains why this is, and how it has helped her better serve her customers and understand their needs.
What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?
I am the Information Manager at DataBasics, which is the distributor of digital asset management solutions and services in the Asia-Pacific region, based in Cairns Australia. I am a card-carrying professional librarian and found it was easy to transfer my skills from librarianship to digital asset management. The past decade or so I have been working with our clients and prospects to help them understand digital asset management and how it can help in their day-to-day work, as well as maintaining our own in-house DAM.
My first job was at the State Library of NSW in Sydney as a cataloguer and then as a reference librarian on a busy reference desk. Now I manage the digital content at DataBasics for our website and all our marketing and client communications – helping to educate newbies on what is involved with managing and maintaining a DAM system, writing content on the many aspects of DAM and researching trends as well as tips and tricks to utilise your DAM more effectively. I posted the Image Library Requirements Guidelines that I’d written to our blog last year – as a number of people had mentioned it was helpful. My most recent posting is entitled DAM for Government: Digital Asset Management for the Public Sector and covers specific aspects such as secure access, distribution and media sharing controls, copyright and rights ownership as well as approvals, collaboration, crowd sourcing and content re-purposing.
How do you describe digital asset management to others?
With my library background, I find the easiest way to describe DAM is to think of a library but instead of books, magazines and journals etc, we have a digital library of images, graphics, layouts, presentations, Office docs, PDFs, videos and so on.
Primarily I think the main difference is that whereas a library system describes its records in text format, a digital asset management system is visual. But just as “a picture is worth a thousand words”, a good picture is priceless as Deb Miller writes in CMSWire.
Just as a library only catalogues significant items, the best authors and writers rather than everything that is ever published, so similarly a digital asset management system holds the important stuff in your organisation – the images that make up your brand, the presentations that inform and educate, the training videos, records of events, and all the important documents created in your day-to-day work.
Your digital assets are those files that have value.
When it comes to searching and resource discovery, the same cataloguing and classification rules apply, only the terminology has changed a little: what is now termed metadata used to be called descriptive cataloguing; there were subject headings instead of category tree listings and containers. However taxonomies, thesaurii and controlled vocabularies originated in the earliest classification systems and these are still important for large digital asset management systems. For a great source of information about controlled vocabularies and the how and why of using them, with examples, see David Riecks’ website at http://www.controlledvocabulary.com/.
How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?
I learnt DAM on the job really – and I was fortunate that some of my early mentors were people like Jennifer Neumann, the co-founder and CEO of Canto and fondly known as “the mother of DAM”. You can hear Jennifer speak about the early days of DAM in the Picturepark webinar and we have her Australian DAMAP conference presentation on our website in PDF format.
Otherwise, Webinars and White Papers are probably the best way to come to grips quickly with how a DAM works and what advantages it will provide. It is a lot easier than downloading a demo and trying to get it up and running when you are not sure what you are doing! Most DAM vendors have produced videos on their products and often these are specific to particular topics or they may have some of their customers describe their usage as case studies. David Diamond’s DAM Survival Guide is an excellent resource for those just getting started.
There is also a lot of info on social media sites such as LinkedIn – check out the DAM groups that you can connect with that keep you up-to-date with news, events and developments in the industry.
What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?
Researching your organisation’s needs and in particular, workflows prior to selecting and implementing a DAM system is critical to your success. One of the big challenges to implementing any new system is user acceptance… users need to feel that it will improve their efficiency and make their daily work easier. The DAM Learning Center has an article entitled Digital Asset Management Best Practices: Key Stakeholder Involvement by Jim Kidwell that summarises the issues nicely.
It is important for people to realise that copyright issues, privacy restrictions and version control are critical for any organisation. It is so easy to breach copyright with an image or to use the wrong version of a file. But managing this depends on setting up your DAM system with enough checks and balances via user permissions, watermarking and using a central asset location and other methods that this can never happen.
Take the time to find out your real needs and then pick a solution that doesn’t just provide you with software but with the services you need to implement the system, configure it for your requirements, and train users.