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How DAM Libraries Transform (#LibrariesTransform)

  • 5 min read

Public book repositories are not the only kind of library and certainly not the only type that transform. Some libraries accumulate in people’s homes. Others are built for private use, and many are increasingly popping up online. It’s National Library Week in the Unites States, and what better time to take a moment to think about all the different kinds of libraries out there?

As a kid, I remember my mother’s book collection. It was tucked away in the nook under the stairs, but that nook was in the middle of the back wall of the living room. The books were a backdrop to everything we did in the house, and we all found tons of time to read them. Even before I could read, I would flip through the science books, look at the frogs and snakes and make up stories about them. I slowly made my way through Grimm’s Fairy Tales, spending extra time memorizing the line drawings for each story. I waited impatiently for the skill to read one of my mother’s paperback novels with all those tiny words and big sentences. We went to a regular library as well, but looking back, that little nook library probably changed my life – it offered a consistent source of fuel for my burning desire to explore strange worlds.

Denzil Ford
Content Strategist at MediaValet

The American Library Association asks this year:

What does transformation look like in your library?

Digital asset management (DAM) technology is a type of library, and we’d like to enhance this year’s discussions on #LibrariesTransform by adding DAM into the mix.

What Transformation Looks Like in a DAM Library

While a DAM is not literally a physical book library, this technology actually has a lot in common with one.

(If you need a primer on DAM, have a look at this post: What is digital asset management?)

There are two commonly discussed ways that DAM technology intersects with libraries:

  1. Many library workers are DAM professionals who manage the adoption, onboarding, training and ongoing maintenance of DAM solutions for their library or archive, and
  2. A lot of online content involving DAM uses the analogy that DAM acts like a library.

But there’s more. A DAM is more like a physical book library than you might think.

  1. A Book Library Organizes. A DAM is a single place to store digital assets, just as a library holds books and other printed materials, but without a clear and systematic organization structure, the value of the items in that place is quickly lost. If you can’t find what you are looking for, what value does it have? A DAM uses metadata to structure and organize assets, and users reference critical components of that metadata, such as keywords and dates, to search and access assets held in the DAM. Like a book library, a DAM organizes.
  1. A Book Library Functions Based on Rules of Use. Companies who use DAM solutions often need different users to have different levels of access for searching, uploading, downloading, sharing and checking out digital assets. Structured permissions and controls built directly in to the system allow for these differences and provide piece of mind that assets will be used properly and returned to the DAM in the correct form. Like a library, a DAM functions based on a set of rules.
  1. A Book Library Connects Related Information. The metadata structure in a DAM links similar or related assets to one another, and those links provide users with a set of assets that belong together for a variety of reasons, be it due to theme, author/photographer, or even the people shown in a photograph or video. Like a book library, a DAM connects related information.
  1. A Book Library Connects People. When a DAM solution is in place, employees become better connected through positive exchanges that aim to build valuable enterprise products across all lines of business. Instead of working together in frustration to find assets or deal with lost items, teams benefit from instant access to the correct assets, and collaborations move forward to creative ends. This is not just about marketing, which I will discuss further. Like a book library, a DAM connects people. (Although, for both the library and the DAM, independent work is also possible).
  1. A Book Library Connects People to Information. DAM holds assets for the people who need them, and because of built-in structuring, DAM empowers teams to bring assets together with other assets, allows teams to attach valuable metadata to assets, connects digital assets to other business applications (including but not limited to Martech), and allows for the compilation all of the materials needed to plan, create and build out enterprise projects in one central location. Like a library, a DAM connects people to information.

So what does transformation look like in a DAM library? Essentially, transformation is the process of using DAM technology to do better business that speaks to your customer base and to do so more efficiently. 

Like a library, a DAM isn’t just a place for storage.
DAM is a cultural center and source of truth in business.

We first published this idea on DAMNews, and we encourage you to read more about the common ground shared between DAM and physical book libraries in the original article: Why Do We Call DAM a “Library for Digital Assets?”

MediaValet Team