If you work in a museum or archive you know the pressure to digitize collections is increasing. However, there are several challenges that can hold up this process. Besides the need to have the resources to digitize the artifacts, another hurdle that makes this process challenging is often the inability to manage digital objects while staying in compliance with copyright, usage terms, and preservation requirements. One way to overcome this problem is to implement a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. DAM systems provide a secure space to store digital objects. This makes them more accessible while also supporting copyright and preservation efforts. Does this sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not!
In this post, I’ll discuss the benefits of DAM for museums and archives. I’ll be referring to objects/artifacts as “assets” because once they’re in a DAM system that’s what they’re called. Another benefit of DAM is that making assets more accessible and secure increases the return on investment (ROI) for creating them. Since users can quickly access the assets they need, they have the ability to safely use and reuse them on a variety of projects and platforms.
Archival and Preservation Efforts
DAM systems are usually created using information management best practices. This means they support both assets and the various types of metadata that need to follow them. They can also hold different file types which allows for the use of a variety of preservation formats. Some DAM platforms even support popular metadata schemas ensuring that it's accessible at all stages of an assets’ lifecycle. If a DAM platform doesn't support metadata schemas it will often still offer methods for mapping metadata upon export. In sum, if you select the right DAM system for your organization it will facilitate your archival and preservation efforts.
Security of Assets
Part of managing assets includes keeping them secure. Most DAM systems have advanced features for sharing that allow the use of permission groups, permission settings, and secure sharing to ensure the security of assets. Permission groups allow an organization to group its users by the type of access they need. This means a whole group of users can be given access to a folder(s) rather than adding permissions one person at a time. For example, rather than granting each person on your marketing team the ability to open a specific folder, you can create a group and grant access to all its members. This ability also allows you to easily set restrictions for a group of users. So if you don’t want members of the marketing team to have download capabilities for a particular folder, you can set its permissions to “view only” for the entire group.
Depending on the DAM platform you choose, it may offer advanced settings that include expiration dates, watermarks, password-protected folders, and asset-level permissions such as “view only.” You may even be able to set a permission that requires the user to be logged in to view the asset. Robust permissions mean that DAM allows you to safely share assets or collections of assets with people outside your organization who aren’t set up as users. Overall, these security features help ensure all users can only access the assets they need.
Copyright and Usage Terms
As mentioned, DAM makes tracking copyright and usage terms easy. These can be particularly complicated in museums and archives, especially when dealing with donated collections. DAM ensures that copyright and usage terms are attached to the asset at all stages of its life cycle. Not only is this information there for users to see, some DAM systems even have features that send automatic notifications when an asset’s usage terms are about to expire or send warning banners to users when they try to download it. These features, along with permission settings guarantee that assets are always used appropriately.
One-Stop-Shop for All Assets
While this post has focused on assets related to a museum or archive’s collection, DAM systems are intended to store ALL digital assets They can also support a variety of file formats. In addition, the taxonomy of a DAM can be designed to handle every type of an organization’s assets, as well as allow for future growth. This flexibility will allow your DAM system to truly be a one-stop shop for all your assets.
You may be wondering what else besides objects/artifacts is considered a digital asset. Some examples include:
- Brand Guidelines
- Marketing Materials
- Product Images
Moving all your assets off local and cloud drives may sound like a big task. However, by doing so you increase access to them and save your users time. The time they’d spend searching for assets, requesting assets, or creating them can now be spent on other tasks which generate revenue for your organization.
Another feature of DAM systems that museums and archives can leverage is their reporting capabilities. These reports provide insight into how users engage with the system and the assets it holds. This means they can provide you with the information you need to create better-performing assets and make changes to your DAM program to meet your users’ information needs. You’ll find that each DAM platform offers different reporting capabilities. However, some examples of reports include:
- Top Search Terms
- Top Downloaded Assets
- Top Shared Assets
- Asset Performance: Provides data on how assets are performing on specific platforms (social media, website, etc.)
By implementing the right DAM system your museum or archive will be able to manage its assets more effectively which will greatly benefit it in the long run. If you’d like to explore which DAM platform would work best for your organization, or need assistance in implementing or managing one, reach out to the Stacks Team! Our staff of DAM experts is happy to help.