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Digital Asset Management

Project Start Date: Jan. 2012

Expected Time Frame: Ready for implementation by Jan 2013


The Center for Limnology (CFL) has long had a strong archival program, encompassing documents, data, photographs, and other audiovisual materials pertinent to the Center’s history and activities. Since the mid-1990s, however, the archival landscape at the CFL has changed:

  • Most materials of interest to the archives are now created digitally
  • Systems have been developed to capture some types of digital materials, but not all
  • Photographs, audio, and video, in particular, have not been captured
  • Demand for ready access to archival digital media materials is high

In early 2012, the library began examining these issues, and is now developing a system and policy for handling digital (and digitized) archival media materials. Rather than utlizing digital library or institutional repository (IR) software, however, we decided to borrow from the business community by implementing a digital asset management (DAM) system. What’s DAM, you ask? See below!

Project Documents/Resources

ResourceSpace Documentation

ResourceSpace website

ResourceSpace documentation wiki

2012 Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians (WAAL) Conference Poster Presentation

Poster (click to download PDF)

Embedded Metadata Flyer (click to download PDF)

ResourceSpace Screenshots (click to download PDF)

Evaluation Questions (click to download PDF)

Digital Asset Management

What is a digital asset management (DAM) system?

DAM usually refers to management of media items – photos, video, audio – as well as logos and other digital artwork in a central repository. DAM systems originated in the news and marketing industries, where they were developed in order to manage huge collections of media resources.

How are DAM systems different from digital library and instituional repository (IR) systems?

  • Most DAM systems are intended for internal use by the staff of a particular organization
  • DAM systems utilize embedded metadata, rather than external metadata, which is typically used by digital library and IR systems
  • DAM systems are strongly oriented toward re-use of media; they often include features that automatically create different versions of a digital object for different purposes (print, web, etc)
  • DAM systems are not usually designed with the production of curated collections in mind; instead, users submit their own materials and enter their own metadata in order to create a “working” repository of items

What’s this embedded metadata business?

Embedded metadata is just what it sounds like – metadata that is stored within the digital object it describes (often in a section of the digital file called the “file header”). Media items that you purchase or download often include embedded metadata. For instance, have you ever wondered what makes song titles magically appear in your iTunes library or photo dates show up in your favorite photo album software? That’s embedded metadata at work.

How is embedded metadata useful?

  • Since embedded metadata lives within a digital file, it travels with file (or copies of the file) wherever it goes (much like a handwritten caption on the back of a photo)
  • Embedded metadata can be read automatically by many other systems, such as photo album software and media players. This means that users can easily identify items they’ve downloaded from a DAM system AND that they don’t need to re-enter metadata into other systems, such as Flickr, Facebook, and Picasa.
  • Embedded metadata can be written by many programs, such as photo album software and media players. This means that content contributors can enter metadata within their own system if they wish, and they don’t need to re-enter it when they upload items into a DAM system.