Another DAM podcast interview with Megan McGovern

Another DAM podcast interview with Megan McGovern| Listen

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • How does the world’s largest glass museum use Digital Asset Management?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today I am speaking with Megan McGovern.
Megan, how are you?
Megan McGovern: [0:09] I am very well, and yourself?
Henrik: [0:10] Good. Megan, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Megan: [0:14] At the museum where I work, I am the system administrator for
our Digital Asset Management system. I set up templates and make all of the
configurations, and I was also involved in the purchasing, just not as a final
decision maker, but someone whose input was regarded. [0:29] I am also the
vendor liaison with our Digital Asset Management system. Past that, I am responsible
for assisting making policies regarding Digital Asset Management
practices what images are added to our system, what images might be weeded
out, retention schedules, things of that nature. I train all of the users on using
our system.
[0:49] Outside of my day-to-day work, I am the co-chair of the special interest
group for Digital Asset Management at MCN, which is the Museum Computer
Network. I’ve also spoken on panels in the MCN Conference, as well as the
AAM, which is the American Association of Museums Conference.
Henrik: [1:07] How does the world’s largest glass museum use Digital Asset
Megan: [1:11] We use Digital Asset Management all the time. It’s a very image
and video-centric world now, and we really saw the need, earlier in the 2000s,
to have a centralized location for our digital images. Silos are inefficient, so we
used Digital Asset Management as kind of our image library where, at a central
location, people, if they have a project, a lecture, a publication, an exhibition, or
just for reference, they can go to our system, search, and bring up the images
they need for their particular use. [1:40] We also have a direct feed between our
Digital Asset Management system and our website. Pictures that we store in our
system based on certain criteria, if they meet certain metadata values, they get
pushed out to the website and display to the whole world. It’s really a backbone
of our website along with our information and our various content management
systems with their databases.
[2:01] It’s really an important part of what we do, and we’re unique among museums
in that our asset management system doesn’t just have pictures of glass
objects as a glass museum, but we also have an extensive library, different
libraries on materials, design drawings, batch notebooks for recipes for making
glass, things like that.
[2:19] Then we also use our Digital Asset Management system for programs and
events photography. The VIPs visit, some millions visit our portraits of staff or
other people who come to lecture here, so we use it quite extensively.
Henrik: [2:33] What advice would you like to share with DAM professionals and
people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Megan: [2:37] Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned working with Digital
Asset Management is, the field is really as much about people management and
change management as it is about asset management. Working with people to
set up preferences for the system and customizations. [2:53] Working change
managements, if you’re actually installing a new Digital Asset Management
system or one hasn’t existed before, getting input, having people trained and
feeling comfortable and feeling like they have a voice in how the system is
run, so that they’ll actually use it and the project will be a success. I think that’s
almost as important as knowing about metadata and download and technical
specifications for images.
[3:16] I also found that my library and information science background was very
helpful, knowing about the history of cataloging and the whys and wherefores,
how libraries set up information management in the era before computers. It
helps to see how information might be structured even for things that might
generally be considered unstructured information, like candid photos of children
making glass, things of that nature.
[3:39] That being said, I’ve also found that some IT knowledge is very useful,
especially, just a small background. Even a basic knowledge of SQL is sometimes
very useful in understanding how the back end of the Digital Asset
Management system, the database, works and operates.
[3:53] Past that, I would just say flexibility is key. The Digital Asset Management
system market, it seems to be always in flux and technology, as we all know, is
ever progressing and evolving. Being able to be flexible and change as times
change and the environment changes seems to be the key to success, at least in
my experience.
Henrik: [4:13] Great advice. Thanks, Megan.
Megan: [4:15] You’re very welcome.
Henrik: [4:17] For more on this and other Digital Asset Management topics, log
onto Another DAM Podcast is available on Audioboo,
iTunes and the Tech Podcast Network. If you have any comments or questions,
please feel free to email me at Thanks again.

Another DAM podcast interview with Matt Shanley

Click to listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Matt Shanley

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • Why does a museum use Digital Asset Management?
  • What were the drivers for getting a DAM?
  • What advice would you like to give to DAM professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

Full Transcript:

Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podcast about Digital Asset
Management. I am Henrik de Gyor. Today I’m speaking with Matt Shanley. Matt,
how are you?
Matt Shanley: [0:09] Very well, and yourself?
Henrik: [0:10] Good. Matt, how are you involved with Digital Asset
Matt: [0:14] I am the Digital Asset Manager for the Photography Department of
the American Museum of Natural History. They brought me on in 2006 to develop
a photography workflow that would stand savvy. [0:30] Basically, what they
were doing at the time is just taking everything they shot, burning it to a CD or
DVD, and putting it into a binder, and keeping an Excel spreadsheet of what
CDs were where. As you might imagine, that quickly became unmanageable.
[0:44] So when they hired me in 2006, it was a priority for them to have me redesign
their workflow and then research what hardware and software we would
need to get a Digital Asset Management system that was going to be usable
and scalable to the amount of assets that we would eventually accumulate.
[1:06] We decided to go with an Apple Xserve with a 10.5 TB X RAID, and we
decided to use Extensis Portfolio as our DAM. That has a MySQL back end with
a portfolio governing the front end.
[1:25] We started cataloging from 2006 on and then I redesigned the workflow
of the photographers to use Lightroom. It was embedding copyright metadata
on import.
[1:39] We came up with a standardized file naming and folder naming protocols
that were DAM savvy. Basically just formalized the workflow, because the photographers
were pretty much just doing their own thing and there was no real
organization to it. Had to standardize what they were doing in the workflow that
they used.
[2:05] From the time it left the camera and went onto the computer, data preservation
protocols were put in place so that things would get backed up onto
the server, so that if their local hard drive ever crashed, they would at least have
unretouched backups of everything, etc., etc.
[2:23] Then, I have to, when they finish a job, they move it to an area on the
server that I know that they’re done with that job. Then I move it over into the
portfolio sys, catalog it in portfolio. That’s how we do it.
Henrik: [2:43] Why does a museum use Digital Asset Management?
Matt: [2:45] I would say that while we are a museum photography department
we are actually a division of the communications department. We do all of the
press photography, anything that goes out to the press, advertising, marketing,
all of that stuff. We document all of the educational events that happen here.
We documents all of the development events that happen here. [3:12] What
we don’t do is we don’t, for the most part, photograph the collections for the
purposes of cataloging the specimens and artifacts that we have. That’s up to
the scientific department themselves. What museums would probably use it for
would be actually like a collections resource, management. But that is not what
this department does.
Henrik: [3:35] What were the drivers for getting a DAM?
Matt: [3:39] The bottleneck that was happening where it was just taking too
long for photo requests to be fulfilled. Once we got up over a couple hundred
thousand images, that system of burning stuff to CD and DVD became unwieldy.
It was just taking too long. Anything that wasn’t done recently it would
take someone doing much research and going through DVDs and the Excel
spreadsheet. [4:13] There was no controlled vocabulary as far as search and
keywords and stuff like that. It was just a mess. It made it very, very hard to
find things. We needed a centralized storage system that was well organized.
Keywords needed to be standardized with a controlled vocabulary. Once we did
that, it turned image requests from taking days to minutes. It was a huge efficiency
boost for us.
Henrik: [4:45] I bet. Are any of these requests you get paid requests?
Matt: [4:49] Yes. Our business development department and our museum
library both deal with requests coming in mostly from education book publishers.
We do get some of what I would call commercial requests, but it’s mostly in
the educational realm. [5:04] I don’t know how much they’re actually charging for
this stuff, but we’ll get a call. “Do you have a picture of an Apatosaurus thigh or
something like that, a thigh bone?” We’ll look through the collections and see
what we have. We’ve been shooting a mix of digital and film since around 1998.
I think by 2000 or 2002 we were shooting exclusively digital. Considering that
the museum has been here since about 1875 or so, the bulk of our collections
are shot on film.
[5:44] When we went digital the museum library did not have the manpower or
the technical expertise to handle and archive our photos, which is what, back in
the film days, we did. We always turned everything over to the library and they
would put them into the photo archive. When we went digital there was nothing
they could do with the stuff and we did what everybody did, just burn everything
to CD and DVD and store it that way. It was really the only economically
feasible solution at the time.
[6:23] But, like I said, once we got up over a couple hundred thousand assets
it was not working. Sometime in 2007 this new DAM system went online. I’ve
cataloged approximately 328,000 assets. At any given moment there’s about
100,000 assets that I haven’t gotten to yet.
[6:53] That legacy system, we had all of those CDs and DVDs copied onto the
server over a period of time and tried to clean it up as much as we could with
the limited manpower that we have available to be spending time doing that.
That’s somewhere around 210,000 assets in the legacy system.
[7:17] It’s never going to get smaller. We keep everything. So, pushing a million
assets total in no time. We have to make sure that are hardware and software
stay scalable to handling those kind of numbers.
Henrik: [7:33] Wow. Great. What advice would you like to give to DAM professionals
and people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Matt: [7:39] I sort of tripped and fell into it. My background is photography.
It was my photography background that got me hired into this photography
department. Photography, digitally driven photography or organization, Digital
Asset Management is a necessity just like having an IT guy to keep your computers
working is a necessity. [8:09] I would say Higher Education is definitely the
way to go. I had to learn it from scratch, kind of on the job, on the fly. There’s
definitely a market for it out there. Anybody who deals with digital content has
to keep it organized because if you can’ find it then it’s like not having it.
[8:38] I think it’s a growing field. As more digital content is created better solutions,
on a larger scale, are going to become available. I think, even if you get
an education in it now, people who work in this field are going to have to get
reeducated in it multiple times over the course of their career. I think the technology
is going to keep changing at a rate that if you want to stay competitive
you’re going to have to keep up with it.
Henrik: [9:06] Never stop learning.
Matt: [9:07] Yeah.
Henrik: [9:08] Good point. Great. Thanks, Matt.
Matt: [9:11] Thank you. I enjoyed talking to you.
Henrik: [9:14] Me too. For more on Digital Asset Management log onto Thanks again.

Another DAM podcast interview with Leala Abbott

Click to listen to Another DAM podcast interview with Leala Abbott

Here are the questions asked:

  • How are you involved with Digital Asset Management?
  • Do you do documentation and process?
  • Do you like particular standards?
  • You write a blog which recently you have written some posts which have been quite popular. Tell us more about this.
  • Is it fair to say that Digital Asset Management is not a temporary task?
  • Where can we find your blog?
  • What advice would you like to share with DAM Professionals and people aspiring to become DAM Professionals?

Henrik de Gyor: [0:01] This is Another DAM Podca st about Digital Asset
Management. I’m Henrik de Gyor. Today, I’m here with Leala Abbott. Leala,
how are you?
Leala Abbott: [0:09] Hello. How are you?
Henrik: [0:11] Good. How are you involved with Digital Asset Management, Leala?
Leala: [0:15] I am the Senior Digital Content Analyst for the Metropolitan
Museum of Art. In other circles, it’s known as Digital Asset Manager. It’s basically
the same role. It just has more of an information science bent because I
love metadata. I like working with metadata schemas and information architecture
and the documentation of standards, along with usability for Digital Asset
Management systems or other information retrieval systems. I do branch out
from time to time and strategy for Digital Asset Management, big picture stuff.
Educate people on what Digital Asset Management is, as a practice, and to understand
that it’s not just an application. That’s really my educational charge.
Henrik: [1:07] Do you do documentation and process as well?
Leala: [1:11] Yeah, I do. Because of my information science bent, I’m really into
metadata schemas and the cataloging of the assets and what taxonomies that
we leverage. I like to write that stuff all up so other people can read it. Imagine
that. Somebody can just pick up that document, and pick up right where they
left off. I like to provide guidance for people that are the future Digital Asset
Managers in that particular organization or institution, guides for the catalogers.
I’ve written many librarians’ manuals.
Henrik: [1:46] Do you like particular standards?
Leala: [1:48] I do. I’m a big fan of Dublin Core. I don’t know how you
couldn’t be.
Henrik: [laughs] [1:54] True.
Leala: [1:57] Because it really is very much in line with my pragmatic approach
to Digital Asset Management.
Henrik: [2:02] Excellent. Leala, you write a blog in which recently you’ve written
some posts about DAM, which have been quite popular. Tell me a little more
about that.
Leala: [2:11] I’m excited about that. I’m glad they’re popular. My last two postings
have been, “What kinda ‘Who’ do you need to make DAM work?” I go
into descriptions of the types of roles that are necessary to do Digital Asset
Management properly. I think a lot of times, people think, “We’re just going to
buy this wonderful application, and it’s going to fix the fact that we’re drowning
in all of this digital information.” [2:38] There’s very little understanding out there
that it’s not just an application, it’s a process. It’s a business need, and there is
technology to help with that business need, but you also have to have the right
staffing. I think because it’s very cross disciplinary in the practice of DAM, it
brings together professions that weren’t normally at the same table before.
[3:00] Business analysts and creatives, production managers, librarians and information
science people in rights and usage experts. You have your programmers
and developers, and all these people do have to actually work closely together.
[3:16] I think that that’s something very new. There are a lot of professional stylers
out there, so I think that breaking those down and having to come together
on a project was a really new thing for a lot of organizations.
Henrik: [3:29] That sounds like there is a lot of collaboration involved. Is it fair to
say that Digital Asset Management is not a temporary task?
Leala: [3:34] I believe that it is not a temporary task. I think that it takes, depending
on the size of the organization, one to two years in terms of having
the experts that you need onboard. Consultants, integrators, to get the project
rolling, and the process rolling. [3:52] Again, depending on the size and what
you are really ingesting. Once you have most of the process nailed out, you can
have other staffing involved, and take over where the experts left off.
Henrik: [4:03] As long as you have accountability and governance, is that
fair to say?
Leala: [4:07] Yep. As long as you have your standards that can be used as a
guide, and as long as you continue to revisit your processes. I think it’s really
Leala Abbott 23
important that your staff have a professional development chart. That should
be part of their role. [4:24] To make sure that they’re continually educating themselves
on the process and the DAM landscape. That way they stay current.
Henrik: [4:31] Leala, where can we find your blog?
Leala: [4:33] It’s actually my name, I’ve tried to keep it simple. That’s my approach,
and it’s That’s L-E-A-L-A-A-B-B-O-T-T dot com.
Henrik: [4:46] Excellent. What advice would you have to share with other DAM
professional, or even people aspiring to become DAM professionals?
Leala: [4:54] Particularly when I look at resumes, I like to see that people that
worked in different types of organizations. From big ones to small ones, to
cultural heritage organizations to for profit organizations. [5:09] I find people
that have more multidimensional experiences bring a lot more new ideas,
fresh ideas, innovative and more creative solutions to problems than someone
who’s just been in the same place or organization or field of work the length of
their career.
Henrik: [5:33] Makes sense. Thank you, Leala.
Leala: [5:35] Yeah.
Henrik: [5:37] For more on Digital Asset Management, you can log onto Thanks again.