Q1: Thanks so much for taking the time to help us better understand what DAM (Digital Asset Management) work is and how LIS folk can get into this field. First could you tell us a little bit about yourself, where you got your MLIS (or your educational background) and what you do?
I received my MLIS in 2014 from Rutgers University. In my last semester at Rutgers, I started working at an educational research library in a temporary position that turned permanent upon graduation that spring. I stayed at the company for five years before I ventured into Digital Asset Management. Now, I work as the Global Content Librarian for a Global Commercial Capabilities Team at Merck Animal Health. The position sits in between the IT department and the marketing department. The DAM tool is used to make the marketing-legal-regulatory review more efficient, and to encourage marketers to responsibly use or reuse existing assets (images, logos, photos, fonts, and other creative pieces) stored in the DAM. A big part of my job was to work with my team to roll out the tool for all marketers around the world. Now that it’s implemented a big part of my job will be to measure the success, use, and future advancements of the DAM to other databases. In addition, I’m responsible for educating users to ensure the proper use of these creative assets since some of them are sourced from third party agencies. I’ve been at Merck Animal Health since April 2019, and it’s been a busy year of trainings and a lot of travel – which I love!
Q2: Now can you tell us how You personally got into doing this type of work?
I gained interest in DAM work after a few conversations I had with some friends in my librarian network who also worked in the field. I then found a Central Jersey DAM group on the app, MeetUp. The group made it easy to find more people who could speak to the nature of the work. Talking with others helped me understand what the day to day could look like and gave me confidence that making this transition would be a good fit.
Q3: What makes this a great field for LIS workers and likewise, what do you think makes LIS workers strong candidates for hiring managers in this field?
I think LIS workers are the best kinds of people to get into this role. DAM folks need to have an eye for detail, understand information systems (metadata and taxonomies) but also need to be able to see the larger picture and the details of how the DAM system and the assets stored there can impact the company or organization. I think hiring managers are looking for people who can get into the weeds of the system but won’t get too wrapped up in the details. As librarians, we make the details our business but we have to keep those details in context and think about how everything fits into the organization or company.
Q4: What is the best way to get your foot in the door or your first DAM job?
For me, it was definitely building that network. It’s intimidating to just randomly reach out to people through social media or approach someone at a networking event, but I think it was the only way I could have made the transition to this work. The more connections you make, the more you’ll see that people start contacting you and seeking out your expertise. Growing your network won’t happen overnight, but what you put into it is what you get out of it, and it helped that I became more comfortable with introducing myself to people.
For this job, I knew it was important for me to be honest about my skillset since it was my first DAM job. When I interviewed, I made it clear that there were certain tasks I had never performed but that there were plenty of other things I’ve learned on the job in my previous roles. The hiring manager told me “we’ve never hired someone like you before, so we can learn from each other.” That comment was validating and gave me a lot of confidence in the kind of management I would encounter.
Q5: Finally what are some of the most important skills / certifications / etc that LIS folk can do to prepare them? Any last tips?
I noticed that a lot of the skills that were desired in DAM jobs were familiarity in database structures, taxonomies, metadata, copyright, and instruction. Taking courses in those areas could help but if that’s not an available option, take on some project work in those fields in your current role or for your professional associations. Also, having an LIS degree can make a candidate more appealing since the work requires knowledge of copyright, metadata, and taxonomies. But to prepare for a DAM career, it would be great to seek out some webinars and online events to see the work “in action.” I found the Henry Stewart Events to be really helpful, and the central Jersey DAM group had a lot of happy hours and webinars that made it easy to listen to the “aboutness” of the work. I wrote down some names, some skills, and began the conversations from there.
Still, whether it’s a transition into this role or starting off the career entirely, it’s important to understand the details and the larger picture and see how that fits into your personality and work goals. It’ll take time, but stay patient and persistent- good things will come!
Views expressed are those of the interviewee and not INALJ or their employer. Photo provided by the interviewee and permission granted to use it for this interview.
Editor’s Note – this article republished with permission of the author and INALJ.This interview is part of INALJ’s 2020 series on non-library jobs for library workers.