Recent Events

Information Professional Skills For the Future

Info Pro Skills Panel

(L-R) Ruth Kneale, David Diamond, Deb Hunt

This panel concentrated on digital asset management (DAM), how it affects the work of information professionals, and the skills they need.  Deb Hunt, Principal, Information Edge and current SLA president described a project she did for the Exploratorium, an interactive museum in San Francisco. The museum has large collections of photos and documents, but they were not controlled or organized.  They are used by educators, museum partners, commercial media, journalists, and historical researchers.  Because of the lack of control, there were no finding aids, and frequently the materials were borrowed and never returned, so they were scattered in offices around the museum.

Following a needs assessment, metadata categories were generated, and a field structure based on Dublin Core was created.  (Deb stressed during her talk that as librarians, we know how to do this, and we should be proactive in making this known to our clients!)  The needs of various audiences were considered, and a framework of categories and keywords was created.

The data were disseminated via an internal network and the external web.  Photos were put on the external web at  72 dpi but were at higher resolution on the internal network.  It is important to consider copyright issues when doing this.  As information professionals we know about copyright, but users generally do not, which is an issue.

Challenges during this process include  a long time to get started and long processing and indexing times.  Time spent on the infrastructure is well spent and may be more than planned.  Go slow and take the time to get it developed right.  There were some pleasant surprises during the development such as the popularity of the digital assets with the staff and external users.  Some of the best assets were created by non-media department staff.  The resulting digital library can be accessed here.

Here are some of the lessons learned:

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

More lessons learned

More lessons learned

We know how to do all these things and can partner with our users.  If you are asked to do something, step up to the plate and do it.


David Diamond, Director, Global Marketing, Picturepark discussed DAM killers, which are opportunities for information professionals.  Here are some of the things that drive customers crazy.

  • The “Topic is too big and abstract” really means the clients don’t know where to begin nor when to stop.  They can’t see the project from a neutral perspective; everybody sees it from their own viewpoint.  There must be a single voice overseeing the entire project.  Goals are unclear and uncertain because users don’t know what successful DAM looks like.
  • There is too much democracy in all the wrong places.  Buy-in becomes too valuable and leads to compromise.  “Can’t-say-no” attitudes lead to bloating and pointless collection, and lack of ownership leads to no decision making.  The DAM system becomes everybody’s personal mess!
  • There is no training, follow-up, or recurring evaluations.  Confused users don’t know where to turn. Once the job is done, problems persist because no one asks what is wrong.  Evolution is stifled because the “it ain’t broken”  syndrome.  Once it is working, people tend to walk away slowly.  Nobody wants to touch the system because they don’t have the vision for improving the system.

How to connect with prospects for a DAM Project

  • Make yourself visible on their stage.  Do effective content marketing:  make it clear what you do and why it matters.  Contribute content to guest blogs.  DAM sites are always looking for writers.  All these sites are on LinkedIn.  Join and participate in the discussion.
  • Speak their language and feel their pain.  Stay benefits-focused and describe a world that’s better and attainable.  Aim to inspire, not impress.  What users need is more interesting than what you know.  Tell them how much better DAM will be with you involved.
  • Build partnerships, mentor others, provide advice.  Use (a free services of DAM experts helping newbies) to contact DAM vendors and integrators.  Go to conferences; offer to speak.

Next steps

  • Learn the lingo for free.  Go to (form-free viewing).  Get the free DAM book.
  • Create the content.  Draft a list of topics that feature your expertise  Unique ideas are great, not necessary.  Write 3 pieces and ask for referrals.

Here are some resources for further learning

Resources for further learning


Ruth Kneale from the National Solar Observatory concluded the session with a fascinating description of her many-faceted job as a systems librarian. Everything she manages is a digital asset, but she uses a different terminology than other DAM people.  The NSO is a very different environment, but the skill sets are the same.  She supports the entire staff, and her tasks change constantly.  TheNSO is building new telescopes.  She is a systems administrator, librarian, and engineer.  Here is her job in words.

 System administrator's job at NSO

As a systems librarian, she does archives, databases, document management, reference, research, and training.  Most of her time is spent in document management.  She built an Access databases that tracks all of her stuff, and trains new hires how to use the systems.

As a systems engineer, she does interface control, configuration management, requirements review, and requirements traceability, (making sure all the pieces fit together).  Skills include information architecture, database management, and taxonomy management.

As a systems administrator,she deals with new computer systems, system management, server management, troubleshooting, and websites.  She supports local PCs, networks, and runs the websites.  Skills are collaboration, patience, communication, and innovation.




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