Guru Call: USA

Looking for a Guru in MO, USA. Member seeks assistance with best practices in managing assets for video production. Member has experience with Storage DNA as an archive system and would like direction on using metadata within the software.

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Guru Talk: Sue Barrett – Arizona State University

Sue Barrett - Educational TechnologistWorking in the field of Digital Asset Management for multiple higher education institutions, Barrett understands the importance of planning for high volume content to avoid costly mistakes.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?
I currently provide project planning and guide metadata management in the institutional repository and curricular management systems for a public university. I have worked for several websites and two universities as a DAM professional. Managing the online image libraries for websites started my interest in DAMS.

I learned a lot about digital access and electronic information workflows in those positions. At the two public universities, I worked in eLearning, technical project management, information lifecycle analysis and records management. I specialize in moving image and digital film preservation.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

DAM is a stewardship plan that mitigates the risk of loss by providing a strategy to curate and preserve digital assets. Digital assets are dependent upon technology, and access is the key to all DAM systems. There will always be new technology tools, and creating an adaptable strategy for digital survival allows your staff and DAM system to be agile and responsive to change.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned DAM as part of a master’s program in library and information science, where I trained as an audiovisual archivist, and through on-the-job training. There is a selection of digital preservation resources available on my website at http://dmia.drupalgardens.com/content/resources, and I have found the following resources to be helpful:

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

Plan and take your time. DAM is a permanent part of information management and extensive planning will help avoid costly mistakes. Take time to query other institutions, gather feedback and collaborate with peers and professionals.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

Running the empire for George Lucas.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Convincing institutional administrators to provide the necessary people and financial resources to support a robust, secure and long-term DAM system is my greatest challenge.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

I sincerely hope that international federated systems and Web scale operations are available for DAM in the next five years. Creating a system for shared data will enable collaboration between diverse institutions and support the creation of new knowledge by eliminating data silos.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

My biggest DAM mistake was trying to retroactively assign metadata elements to an existing repository collection. I quickly realized that I had gone down a rabbit hole and the Red Queen was on her head. Now I plan controlled vocabularies in advance and add as much metadata as possible at ingest to improve access. We have limited time and resources, and I learned to keep moving forward with existing projects. I only retroactively adjust metadata when absolutely necessary now.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

My greatest DAM success was managing implementation of a university-wide tenure review process, which transformed an inefficient paper process. Each year, university faculty members collect evidence of their academic and research efforts in pursuit of tenure or promotion, and submit up to nine linear feet of documents for evaluation. Multiply each portfolio by more than 250 individuals and you can imagine the complexity and volume of the document management. Faculty members with multimedia materials would print still frames or generate transcripts. Digitizing this workflow resulted in considerable savings in staff time and physical material handling. The DAM system is available 24/7, provides analytics and secures protected information for long-term management. While it was not the largest DAM project I have managed, it delivered the greatest return on investment and user satisfaction.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?
I would like to learn more about employing metadata schema crosswalks and interoperability methods.

[box]More from Sue Barrett: In July of 2014, Sue presented the webinar, “Essential DAM Planning for Museums.” Click the link to view the webinar recording.[/box]
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Guru Talk: Jill Fisher – Ithaca College

Jill Fischer - Publications Assistant

Having worked in digital asset management since 2000, Fischer notes that server compatibility to DAM systems is a key component to maintaining up-to-date versions of DAM software.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I have been at Ithaca College for the last 20 years doing work in DAM since 2000. My previous work experience was in offset printing for many years before coming to Ithaca College. I was hired primarily to work with the Manager of Printing Services in scheduling, quoting, and producing work with printers and graphic designers. I was also managing the slide collection and a good portion of the black & white picture collection. The slide collection was really the original assets that were added to our DAM. We sent them to be scanned as Kodak PCD files and then loaded them for use. In the beginning I was backup to the graphic designer that started the work on the asset management system. She has since retired and I have been managing it since 2006. We are now adding the digital images, our packaged print files and videos to our system.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

I explain to others that it is where we put images and print files to make them available to the campus community and those who need to use or access them.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I have learned mostly by using the system and using the technical manuals. When this was started there wasn’t much information out there and very few choices in systems. I also went to a vendor show in New York City in 2000. Maybe it’s time to do that again! There is much more web information available now.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

Setting up how you organize your assets is very important. Our system began by filing images in the same manner as our slide and picture collection. It can be hard as people interpret images in very different ways as to how they should be sorted. Be open to suggestions as to how the structure works best for as many as possible.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

Since I have most of my experience in the printing field I would probably be working at something there.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

It has been hard to have the DAM vendor keep up with software upgrades. I have to be careful about just upgrading the graphic software by testing that the plug-ins for the system will work, or that they have plugins. I went for about 6 months not being able to add new files because the system wouldn’t display the files correctly. I currently can’t upgrade to the newest DAM software because our server is not compatible.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

A consultant came in to look at our system when I first took it over and directed me to organize the assets on the server in numerous folders within folders. Six years later the vendor said this was causing the system to over work in searching for assets. I had to reorganize assets and it took about a year. I don’t know that I would have done this differently but it made for a lot of extra work.

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Guru Call: USA

Looking for a Guru in CA, USA.  Member has MLIS and is looking for some guidance on best practices for digital asset management. Familiar with ResourceSpace and works within the education sector.

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Guru Talk: Shannon Davis – Alberta Tourism

 

Shannon Davis - Tead Lead - Alberta Tourism Digital Assets Library

Having held multiple roles in the Digital Asset Management field, Davis understands the importance of conferences and networking events within the industry.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

Although I recently transitioned to another position within Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation, I was the Acting Team Lead for the Digital Assets Library for the Ministry.  I managed all aspects of the Digital Assets Library, including consulting and collaborating with industry stakeholders, tourism industry and all levels of government to develop needs assessments and asset acquisition plans.

Identifying industry needs and marketing opportunities when coordinating image and footage shoots, and then managing the distribution out to industry professionals, media and other government agencies through, first, an in-house built DAM system, and then later a purchased DAM system.

My team was responsible for asset distribution, license tracking, content audits and data analysis. Prior to being the Team Lead, I was a Digital Assets Consultant with the Ministry, dealing with distribution on our in-house DAM and working with the tourism industry on content audits and asset acquisition.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

I learned DAM through trial and error.  I was originally hired because I was an Alberta content expert.  It was a challenging process. I would certainly recommend additional training or mentorship.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

Technology changes very quickly, so you need to be on top of trends, and it is important to continually evaluate your requirements. Continual learning is essential. Try to get to some of the conferences so that you can network. Don’t work in a vacuum! Being able to share experiences—both wins and learnings—is essential to creating and maintaining a successful DAM.

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Guru Call: India

Looking for a Guru in India. Member is new to DAM world and like to learn more about digital asset management.

Seeking assistance with how to migrate assets from one source to another and key areas like Metadata, Taxonomy, XMP and Workflows.

Newbie speaks English.

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Guru Call: USA

Looking for a Guru in NY, USA. Member looking to start a dialogue with someone in the DAM industry who has experience with Portfolio. Insight to possible pitfalls or considerations they may not have considered would be appreciated. Member works in the non-profit sector.

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Guru Talk: Adam Hess – Arcadia University

Digital Asset Manager

With the understanding that digital asset management is completely organic and needs to be able to grow in a natural progression, Hess has been able to find success with many types of DAM systems in his career.

What companies/organizations have you worked for as a DAM professional? What was your role at each?

I started as a DAM professional in graduate school, during a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Arts program at Louisiana State University (LSU). For three years, I digitized oversized materials such as maps, posters and fine art prints, for Hill Memorial Library Special Collections and the main library, Middleton, as well as the Cartographic Information Center within the Department of Geography and Anthropology. What started as a simple technician job grew into a full DAM position, as I was generating, cataloging, and providing access to these digitized collections.

When I graduated I was contacted by the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Studies at LSU to manage a grant funded project to digitize a collection of 35,000 color transparencies of the Gulf of Mexico ocean floor. The project took roughly 9 months, and was a great chance to work on a single project and see it to completion. When the grant ended, I was still at LSU teaching art and was contracted by the Special Collections library to continue to lend my expertise to digital projects. As a part time job, I was also working for Baton Rouge Public Radio, WRKF, where I was a weekend board operator and was digitizing and archiving their audio for a few years.

For the last two years I was the Digital Asset Manager at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. While the institution was not new to DAM, they had not had a person managing their DAMS. Therefore, I had a lot of work ahead of me in regard to bringing more users online, as well as creating smarter workflows and efficiencies. The first task was to design and implement a standardized metadata schema, which was followed by a massive reorganization of the assets. By the time I left, we had more users and departments online than ever before, including a few “departmental content managers” that had been trained to manage their own assets with little oversight.

Currently I am back in academia as the Digital Resources Librarian at Arcadia University. Arcadia, like many institutions, has an institutional digital repository containing the scholarship of their community. The repository was launched just a year ago and it is in the initial phase of growing its collections. My goal is to centralize all scholarship done at the university, and hold as much of this research in our open access repository. Along with building our collections, I am educating the faculty and students about open access, author’s rights and copyright, and new opportunities in scholarly publishing. The goal is to launch a Center for Scholarly Communication within the year.

How do you describe digital asset management to others?

Typically, I like to describe digital asset management as the collecting, storing, searching and retrieving of digital assets, such as images or scholarly articles. I liken it to most information jobs – we are storing and preserving items for future access and dissemination.

Like most in our profession, I tend to say that I manage a database of images or digital objects. Since I have managed many types of databases, I usually just say, “I am an information professional and database administrator.” It sounds more important when you say “information professional” – at least that is what I tell myself. Though we do so much more, most understand and even use a database of some kind, so I like to use an analogy that is practical to everyone’s daily lives.

How did you learn DAM? Any recommended sources?

As cliché as it is, I learned DAM on the job. In fact, for the first few years of working in the Special Collections library at LSU, I had no idea that what I was doing was digital asset management. As I am a photographer, I was already experienced in generating quality digital images. At the library, I started to build on those skills with cataloging, documenting workflows, and creating access points via digital libraries and other resources. By the time I finished my tenure at LSU Libraries, I had grown into a full digital asset manager.

I do not have any recommended sources other than the open Internet. There are heaps of articles, general guidelines, and communities that have immense value. There is no one resource for DAM. The other suggestion is to network and find fellow DAM-ers, and even a mentor in the field.

What’s the most important thing for someone new to DAM to understand about DAM?

There is no one, correct way for DAM; it is completely organic; it needs to be able to bend and fit within your organization, and needs to be able to grow in a natural progression. No one can just copy a DAM plan initiated elsewhere; it won’t translate. However, the best foot forward is to look at what others are doing—all others. Survey the field and learn some lessons others learned the hard way. Digest as much as you can, connect with as many as you can, and identify others in the trenches with you.

Above all, the seed for DAM—its initial implementation in any organization—needs to be planted by the organization’s upper management. These people need to be fully educated and vested so they are not asking, “how has DAM improved productivity?”; but rather they are asking, “what more do you need for DAM to continue to make an impact here?” Too often the “yearly review” with the CEO is usually another round of educating and advocating for DAM, and not updates on the impact DAM has had on the institution.

If you weren’t doing DAM as a career, what would you be doing?

I’d be teaching photography. Photography is my first love, and it laid a solid foundation for my career with DAM. When I started my MFA program, I was planning on teaching art; but that all changed when I began building experience in the libraries. That, or opening a coffee bar, because I can never have enough coffee! Oh, or selling hotdogs at baseball games—just seems like fun.

What is your ongoing greatest challenge with DAM?

Educating and advocating for DAM with upper management. There can sometimes be a disconnect between upper management and DAM. In most institutions, upper management does not utilize the DAMS, though they are the one’s with the decision-making power. Therefore, it is vital that these decision makers fully understand DAM and all it’s pros and cons, how DAM will function within their institution, and what the missions and goals are. Upper management needs to be a key stakeholder, and that is a huge challenge.

The other biggest challenge is documentation and policy development. When working in a digital environment, there can be resistance to taking the time to write down all the details of workflows and other solutions. This is crucial for standardization and evaluation of these solutions. Above all, developing a DAM policy document is essential to framing any DAM initiative. The “why are we doing this?” mission statement needs to be developed and adopted by all key stakeholders, as well as concrete goals that everyone is working towards together.

What is your vision for DAM? What will it look like in 5 years?

Total open source DAM solutions, and a wave of agreed-upon standards. Right now there are just way too many DAM software and hardware solutions, and not one of them does the same exact thing. There are very sophisticated “enterprise-level” solutions that are almost too complicated for daily DAM activities. These systems are trying to do too many things, watering down the essential functions like the search and retrieval of assets. The lower-tier, open-source solutions are great. They are simple to use, easy to adapt to address specific needs, and they come with a community of users interested in one thing—advancing the solution and making it better for all. I see these open source solutions winning out over expensive, enterprise-level DAM software as more and more information professionals are looking to solutions they can adapt to their environment and not fight with a vendor about a certain function or place an “engineering request.” (ugh!)

I also see a DAM world with better standardization. Metadata schemas alone vary greatly, yet we would all love to be interoperable with all systems. Of course there is no one schema that will rule them all, but the DAM community can come together and make a few sweeping agreements about IPTC, Dublin Core, VRA Core, etc., that will benefit everyone.

What was your biggest mistake with regard to DAM?

Policy building and metadata schema creation were the two areas I would say I made a few missteps. Developing an official DAM policy was very important to me early on but it failed to gain any traction with upper management for the most part. Instead of championing the cause, I regressed and decided it was not as important as I thought it was. I was wrong—a proper DAM Policy is vital. In fact, I would say a DAM policy needs to come before investigating software solutions.

Metadata schema creation was not so much a misstep as it was a longer process than it needed to be. I tend to overthink and over prepare, so my initial metadata schema at the Guggenheim was over 30 fields. After a few months of evaluation, I realized the schema only needed to be about 12 fields, and we could build on from there. In the end, I wish I had started off with a few fields first, as it felt like it took a long time to get to where we needed to be.

What was your biggest success with regard to DAM?

The biggest success would be bringing the entire Education department at the Guggenheim “online” to the DAMS. Before I started working with the department, almost all of their assets were on local and networked file shares. This meant loads of emails, copying of assets, and lost images in the shuffle. Working with the department, I reorganized all their content in the DAMS, and had them develop their own controlled vocabulary to use with metadata application. The final piece was training a group of 10-12 departmental content managers who are now fluent in using the DAMS to load and organization assets, as well as apply metadata. This department is now essentially serving themselves, with some oversight for larger projects. The department is still working on their legacy collections, which are still on networked file shares, but all new content is now being loaded to the DAMS directly.

What more would you like to learn about DAM?

I want to learn more about the technical side of DAM—server management, database construction and programming, software development, and systems integration. I have a solid foundation in the management side of DAM but I lack a deep understanding of the technical framework we all work in. Like any professional, I want to know everything I can about the tools I use daily.

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