When evaluating Creative and Marketing organizations, we often run into a frequent question: Who is managing the organization’s creative assets? In many cases the answer is either “everyone” or “nobody”. In others, it is deemed the responsibility of roles that are creating the assets, the roles managing the projects or the owners of the brand that is tied to the assets. In some cases, it even defaults to the owner of the technology. Occasionally, there is a designated digital asset archivist or librarian who owns asset management. What is clear in the range of responses is there are a lot of legacy structures and behaviors that are not well aligned to our rapidly growing digital world.

Why is this important?

Take a deeper look at the importance of managing your created digital assets and why it should matter to your organization:

  1. Digital assets comprise a growing list of asset types (documents, design files, photos, video, CGI, etc.) and the volume of these assets is increasing at an incredible rate – 4.7 billion photos per day.

  2. Some assets are small files while others are gigabytes in size. As a result, their storage and handling needs are different.

  3. Assets are created both internally and externally, so ensuring that all assets are ingested and managed effectively is key to search and utilization.

  4. Assets have value. They cost to create, copyright and license. Effective curation and reuse is key to realizing their value.

  5. Assets may be public and widely shared, or they can be highly controlled and even restricted for viewing and use. This requires a solid systems approach and management.

  6. Assets eventually become outdated, so ensuring you are using the latest version can be critical.

  7. Making assets easily searchable internally is becoming more important to productivity. It also helps you avoid recreating something that you already have. The little things save time and unnecessary costs. 

Asset Management role considerations

Across an organization there are many roles that touch assets, from creation to archiving. This will continue to be the case in digital forward-thinking organizations of the future. What is important is how these assets are managed within the operational construct. In a previous blog titled When is a DAM not a DAM? We provided an overview of how different technology tools are viewed for asset management. It pointed to the growth of modern Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems as important productivity tools for organizations. But we also need to consider the roles that interact with the DAM. 

The DAM Librarian is a role that has been emerging, particularly over the past decade, and is becoming pivotal to the effectiveness of DAM systems and the organization it supports. While responsibilities for storing and cataloging assets have been handled by other roles such as brand owners, marketing staff, creatives and project managers this arrangement is not ideal on its own. Some key reasons for this are:

  1. These roles may have strong knowledge about the asset, but they may have gaps when it comes to metadata tagging structure and extent to which they are able to ensure effective internal search capability.

  2. Bandwidth issues limit focus and attention to detailing assets and uploading to systems in a timely manner.

  3. Lack of consistent approach in asset tagging and management often results in assets being undiscoverable

  4. Spending time cataloging and storing assets steals time from their higher value skills area and results in reducing available productive capacity.

DAM Librarian Value

This is where a DAM Librarian can provide high value to an organization that uses a DAM system. DAM Librarians are trained in this space, usually with a degree such as Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS). DAM Librarians most often are part of Creative Operations or Marketing Operations teams. 

The DAM Librarians add value to your organization by:

  1. Structuring and managing assets to ensure effective search and retrieval

  2. Developing and maintaining taxonomies and metadata schemas that are best structured for the organization type, including the products and services

  3. Creating controlled vocabularies to improve asset ingest processes and consistency

  4. Setting up controls and permissions for viewing and downloading assets

  5. Establishing rights management components for asset use to minimize legal and compliance risk

  6. Working as a tool administrator and liaison with the vendor to ensure the DAM system is operating to optimum level

  7. Training all users so they can better find, utilize and manage available assets

A DAM Librarian should own the DAM strategy that provides the framework for storing, organizing, protecting, and distributing digital assets. This role is pivotal in implementing the DAM strategy, but also key in ensuring the strategy evolves over time to keep pace with changing needs and asset types. 

Even with a skilled DAM Librarian, your organization’s roles will still need to provide inputs to help foster better asset management. The file naming convention, basic metadata, licensing constraints and location will help to populate an ingest record for your DAM system, which the DAM Librarian will review and enrich to take it even further.

The DAM Librarian role is a key skill set needed in organizations with dedicated Digital Asset Management systems. This role increases the value of the investment your organization makes in creating assets by ensuring their internal search capability, utilization and risk management.