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Why You Need a Digital Asset Management Librarian

Samuel Chapman

June 8, 2022

What Is a DAM Librarian and Why Do You Need One?

Physical libraries have evolved into beautiful, modern facilities. But even the most state-of-the-art library would devolve into chaos without a librarian. Why? Human nature.

  • Books wouldn’t be returned to the correct locations—or returned at all, making it difficult or impossible for others to find.
  • Unorganized stacks and piles of books would clutter tables and chairs.
  • Some books would become outdated, meaning people would be using old, incomplete, and possibly inaccurate information.
  • Patrons would be left to fend for themselves with no expert help and support.

The list goes on. Now, factor in all the assets your local library provides—DVDs, CDs, magazines, journals, microfilm, microfiche, maps, atlases, historical documents, etc., and you can see how quickly a library can lose its value and appeal.

The same goes for a digital asset management system (DAM). DAMs have state-of-the-art capabilities to help businesses organize and manage millions to tens of millions of pieces of digital content—from text and video to graphics and collateral.

metadata and taxonomy structure in DAM platform

When managed effectively, a DAM enables marketers, creators, partners, and agencies to quickly and easily search, find, use, and reuse content to accelerate time to market with engaging campaigns. But those benefits depend on ensuring all digital assets are approved, meet brand and compliance standards, have appropriate metadata, and are tagged with the proper taxonomy so users can find what they need quickly.

That’s the role of the DAM librarian.

What does a DAM librarian do?

A DAM librarian’s responsibilities will depend on several factors, including the size of the business, number of users and assets, LOBs, governance, and more. But at a high level, a DAM librarian is responsible for:

  • Reviewing and approving or rejecting assets from all contributors, including internal users as well as external users such as agencies and partners.
  • Conducting an asset audit by checking metadata and branding on assets to determine if contributor groups are adhering to the process and guidelines
  • Actively participating in governance meetings.  
  • Working with the DAM Product Owner and Internal Tech Support leader to update all documentation related to contributor groups

There are additional responsibilities a DAM librarian can take on based on the internal flow between different lines of business (LOBs) and how they interact with the DAM. These could include: 

  • Reviewing contributors’ vendor activity and contacting the vendors to determine if their license should be renewed or revoked  
  • Maintaining guidelines for vendor and asset approval if the business has external vendors adding files to the DAM
  • Conducting a licensing audit to validate new contributors added to the system and validate if licenses need to be revoked
  • Running reports for insights into internal KPIs, for example, the number of records approved, the number of approved records downloaded, etc.)  
  • Helping to create or validate any documentation related to the Asset Librarian role.  Some examples could include working with the Brand team for brand compliance documents, DAM naming convention documents, copyright guidelines, and Marketing Asset Lifecycle documents (for example, when specific assets should be retired, expired, archived, etc.)
  • Assisting in nominating a backup Asset Librarian in their absence
  • Assisting in amplifying any communication around the DAM to their LOBs

Who needs a DAM librarian, and what skills are required?

Any organization with a DAM needs a DAM librarian. Whether you have a dedicated full-time resource or incorporate the responsibilities into an existing role, you need a DAM librarian with a specific skillset to optimize your DAM continuously, so it remains an effective tool. Ideal skills to look for in a candidate would include:

  • Strong knowledge of DAM systems, metadata standards, databases, and rights management
  • Strong knowledge of the users (contributors) and LOBs that are using the DAM (of course new hires will need to learn the key player sand develop their knowledge over time)
  • Familiarity with data governance principles and rights management
  • Strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills, with great attention to detail
  • The ability to adapt to a fast-paced and dynamic environment
  • Strong organizational and project management skills with the ability to prioritize tasks and work independently
  • Interest or experience in UI/UX design

Why is a DAM librarian so crucial for brands and organizations today?

In our recent podcast featuring Marla A. Watson, Principal Digital Asset Manager, Creative Operations/Studio Z at Zillow Group, Marla explains that the importance of her job as a DAM librarian is twofold: “My mission is to make your job easier but to also build an evolving DAM, a DAM that can grow with the company, and that has flexibility. With that, it will be a DAM that can grow for many years.”

Like a physical library, a DAM is only as valuable as the information users can find and use. Your users need quick and easy access to on-brand, compliant content to be productive, get campaigns into market faster and increase revenue. For these reasons, a DAM librarian is not a nice-to-have, but a critical component to supporting overall business goals and strategies.

Be sure to tune-in to the full interview with Marla on our Marketing Cheat Codes podcast to hear what a real DAM Librarian has to say about the role and why it’s strategic for accelerating time to market and conversion.

Episode airs on June 21st, catch it here!

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