Library Today: Digital asset management is demystified

Library Today: Digital asset management is demystified

From UST Libraries

Looking for an image of the UST campus? Trying to find the most up-to-date version of the staff handbook? Need a copy of the syllabus for your English 101 course? To fulfill your request, you most likely will be pointed to one of a variety of systems on campus that manage the university’s collection of digital assets.

What, you might ask, is a digital asset? A digital asset is an electronic object that has value for some purpose. This includes: image files, audio and video clips, word documents and databases. At UST, the digital assets are: scanned art history slides for classroom use, syllabi mounted on the Blackboard system, policies mounted on the university’s Web site, as well as data entered into the Banner system.

What is digital asset management? Digital asset management is to electronic objects what the online library catalog is to books and journals. It is a system for organizing and managing access to digital materials that rapidly have become very useful in teaching and research as networks allow us to access them.

As you may imagine, the management of this information is complex. In some cases this storage is centrally provisioned, managed, backed up; in other cases, not. Some systems offer rich feature sets for attaching metadata (data about the contents, origins, or meanings of an asset) to assets and for searching for assets via metadata; others do not.

The Digital Asset Management Steering Committee is composed of members of IRT staff: Rosann Cahill, Dan Gjelten, Liz Houle, Linda Hulbert, Ann Kenne, Eric Larson, Jeff Mayer, Laura Thomas and Tony Wilkinson, who have been working over the past year to find management solutions for the university’s growing set of digital assets. The group is looking at issues relating to all aspects of digital asset management, including the presentation and delivery, management and distribution, storage and migration, metadata and controlled vocabulary creation as well as campuswide policy.

The ultimate goal of this project is to plan the structure under which all the various components of a complete digital asset management system will be collected, and the standards, protocols and interfaces by means of which they will interoperate. Secondarily, this project will evaluate the packages and systems currently in place against that larger design and suggest how each piece can be fitted into the whole. If an existing piece cannot serve due to lack of features, expense or inability to scale sufficiently, the project will recommend that it be replaced with something that can do so and will lay out the requirements for the new piece.

For more information on this project, please feel free to contact members of the steering committee.