Wanna Be a DAM Librarian?

Career Blog

Published: January 31, 2017 by Kate M. Spaulding

Organizations that have digital assets need someone to organize them, and MLIS and MARA students are pros at working with content in a digital environment.

Besides expounding on the virtues of networking, reading widely, and interning, I try to highlight some of the less-common LIS careers here because the skills LIS students learn are incredibly useful in a wide variety of settings. For example: content consultantcybrariandirectorinstructor, digital marketer, and acquisitions manager.

As I was poking around the iSchool’s website (I have the best hobbies), I noticed that the school offers a Digital Asset Certificate. It turns out that you can earn a certificate as a stand-alone accomplishment or concurrently with your MLIS or MARA degree. Two for the price of one!

Give DAM a Chance
Have you considered a career in Digital Asset Management (DAM)? My research tells me that DAM “is a fancy term for the practice of managing digital media on the enterprise level.” Or, organizing digital stuff for organizations (rather than individuals). And MLIS and MARA folks are pros at organizing digital stuff.

As a student, you’ve already gotten your feet wet – you likely organize all your school stuff digitally, and perhaps even lots of your “life” stuff. I don’t know about you, but my Google calendar runs my life, and my Google Drive has syllabi, notes, presentations, assignments, etc. as well as photos, spreadsheets, and more. Have you done any digitization work or taken a metadata class? Did you like them?

Marketing technology company Widen has a good overview of what specific activities might be involved, including:

  • Entering metadata
  • Creating and assigning roles and permissions (who has access to what, and what are they allowed to do with each asset)
  • Training and adoption (coaching colleagues on how to use the DAM system)
  • Working with outside stakeholders (these might include PR/marketing agencies, social media marketing contractors, freelance photographers, etc.)
  • Auditing system performance (does it support the business goals in the way anticipated, is it reliable and easy to use, have any glitches or recurring issues popped up that need resolving?)
  • Gathering (and responding to) user feedback (what could be improved for productivity, support, and ease-of-use?)

DAM, DAM, Everywhere
DAM offers nontraditional career pathways for anyone with the right skills. It could give you the opportunity to work in a video game office, the Library of Congress, National Geographic, and more, including: retailers, banks, colleges, publishers, healthcare companies, cultural heritage organizations such as museums, marketing agencies, botanic gardens, content creation companies, tech companies, insurance companies, and media companies.

Basically, any organization that has any digital assets needs a DAM librarian. As more and more organizations begin to realize that their digital assets are just that—actual assets in which they’ve invested money and human capital—it’s likely that the need for digital asset managers will continue to grow.

In addition to working as a digital asset manager directly for an organization, keep in mind that depending on your level of expertise and area of interest, you might also become a DAM consultant, work for a DAM vendor who specialized in the software aspect of DAM initiatives, or be employed on a project or contract basis by a staffing firm such as LAC Group.

A few resources: