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Getting The Right DAM Staff (or Still Getting It Wrong)

by Charles Russell on January 14, 2019

In a recent blog article entitled ‘All I Want for Christmas is a DAM Bike’, Digital Asset Management specialist Ian Matzen analogises the procurement of a DAM system to that of getting a bike:

But wait, what will you do when you need to carry stuff. I guess you’ll need a bag. Oh and how will you keep that bike safe when you leave it outside? A lock is a good idea. And, alas, you must hire someone to customize, tune and fix it when necessary (or learn to do so yourself!). Worse yet, what if you chose the wrong type of bike – “the salesman told me it was the best of its kind” – because you hadn’t worked with a bike aficionado who was looking out for your interests.”  [Read More]

Essentially, the post stresses the importance of hiring a true DAM professional and the continuing reluctance – or inability – of organisations to identify and use the right tools for the right job.  Ian points us towards a comment from a previous series of articles by Deb Fanslow, which in turn answers David Diamond’s call for more librarians break the silence and lead the charge for hiring more specialists in the DAM field.

My co-contributor Ralph Windsor also touched upon this issue back in 2015 in his article ‘The Undervalued Role of The Corporate Digital Asset Librarian’, where he points to other industry voices, such as Elizabeth Keathley, who echo similar sentiments and discuss why DAM positions are going unfilled.  Ralph also highlights the seemingly inherent inability for executives to recognise and appreciate the importance of dedicated librarian and metadata skillsets.

Part of the problem is the perceived ‘manual labour’ element related to anything associated with libraries and the staff who work in them.  The role invokes images of people carrying armloads of books, standing on stools next to shelving and carrying out mundane, filing-related tasks.  There is a perception among too many corporate managers that anyone with a basic level of education can do it.  As with the discussions about cataloguing from some our previous articles in the last few weeks, the intellectual aspects (or ‘thinking about what you have to do’ in plainer terms) are still complex undertakings that are not properly understood by anyone who has not done this themselves, or at least worked closely alongside a librarian.”  [Read More]

Heather Hedden, a familiar name to anyone involved in metadata and taxonomy design picks up on the not-so obvious distinction between DAM experts and dedicated taxonomists:

DAM experts and consultants are not necessarily experts in taxonomies, and taxonomy experts may not be familiar with DAMs, so there is some learning for all of us. DAM systems, like other content management systems, often need to be configured, integrated, and customized for a specific enterprise’s use, with expertise and time spent first on system integration, pushing taxonomy design out to perhaps only an afterthought.”  [Read More]

The keen-eyed reader might notice that the majority of the articles linked to in this post are rather old, some dating back to the start of the decade, and although the DAM industry has moved forward in terms of technology (albeit it a snail’s pace), the attitudes surrounding the importance of hiring dedicated librarians, taxonomists and metadata specialists have yet to catch up.  Although not quite akin to a rudderless ship, a DAM system implemented without the assistance of a dedicated metadata specialist or librarian is more likely to run into navigational problems further down the line.  And while the DAM software industry is still intent on buffing the ship’s fixtures and fittings to an ever greater shine, it appears there’s still no binoculars on the bridge.

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