Student Abby Dansiger Explores Digital Asset Management Through Internship

Student Abby Dansiger learned firsthand what it's like to work with a newly implemented Digital Asset Management (DAM) system while working as an intern at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Dansiger started her internship at a time when the museum was still going through "a lot of trial and error to determine what functions worked well and what was lacking with its new DAM system," she said. That also meant that Dansiger spent a lot of time focused on the creation and organization of metadata, as well as quality control to look for copyright issues and duplicate or outdated files. "One of the biggest lessons I learned is that one must be flexible and willing to go into unchartered territory," Dansiger said.

Dansiger sought out a DAM internship because she wanted to learn more about managing digital collections. As a photographer who holds an undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from the School of Visual Arts, Dansiger already was comfortable working with digital files. But she became intrigued with information retrieval shortly after she started work at Corbis in New York as an indexer working with images from the Bettmann Archive.

"I was really just happy to be working with images at that point," she said. "I understand now that it was officially my first professional experience using controlled vocabularies and trying to determine the 'aboutness' of non-textual work."

A few years later, Dansiger moved to San Francisco and worked in the membership department at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). She eventually left the museum to take a job at the Academy of Art University Library because she had just been accepted into the MLIS program and wanted library experience. But her prior experience at SFMOMA was very helpful during her internship because she had a firm grasp on the museum's collection and mission.

"Since one of the main points of the DAM is to have all of the museum staff be able to contribute images, it was also beneficial to know the functions of each department and many of the staff," she said.

Dansiger has been very active with our school's American Library Association Student Chapter, including serving as newsletter editor during 2008-2009 and as the chapter's chair in 2009-2010.

"The involvement with the chapter has been one of my most rewarding experiences with SLIS," said Dansiger, who expects to graduate this fall. "Participating in ALASC has allowed me to work with so many different people and make a lot of professional connections."

Dansiger also gained hands-on teamwork and project planning experience as she collaborated with three other ALASC officers and fellow SLIS student Mia Jaeggli to develop the winning entry for the San Andreas Chapter of the Special Library Association's "Design a Program" competition (see SLIS Students Receive SLA Award). The group's entry, "Creating Digital Exhibitions Using Open Source Solutions," proposes to explore how special libraries can highlight their collections and reach beyond their base clientele through open source tools.

Dansiger was also the winner of our school's 2010 NewsBank Scholarship, an annual award endowed by information provider NewsBank to support students interested in digital information resources and information retrieval.