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A n I n t ro d u c t i o n t o D i g i t a l A s s e t M a n a g e m e n t
The problem
All manner of cultural institutions, from archives, libraries, and museums to natural and
environmental heritage bodies, are seeking new ways to expand their services.The deve-
lopment of software and processes facilitating the dissemination of and access to digital
content has enabled institutions to support services exploiting its use. Much recent digiti-
sation work has been carried out as discrete institutional projects producing standalone
Web pages or CD-ROM's. Few individual heritage institutions have the technology or
experience needed to treat these digital products as renewable and manageable resources,
and current procedures and systems do not provide efficient ways of managing or pro-
viding access to them.
Digital assets have the unique characteristic of being both product and asset. Some
digital assets such as documents, images and Web pages are created and exist in digital
form alone, while others like text, still images, video, and audio may be created through
the digitisation of analogue material. Content has a value to institutions comparable to
other assets such as facilities, products, and the less-measurable factor, expertise. Just as
organisations have traditionally sought to maximise their use of financial, human, and
natural resources, they will now aim to use digital assets to their full potential without
having a negative effect on their `value'.Value, of course, is not always obviously financial.
Modern Digital Asset Management Systems (DAMS)
provide mechanisms to manage
digital resources.When associated or integrated with suitable policies, procedures, and
licensing arrangements, DAMS provide a means of facilitating use of digital assets with-
out impacting on the intrinsic value of the assets themselves. Digital Asset Management
is the practice of using software applications and hardware (servers) to index, catalogue
and store marketing tools and media assets in a centrally located, digital format. A DAM
repository can be searched, shared, distributed and re-purposed to create a growing digi-
tal workflow environment, saving time and money, and achieving increased efficiency in
Fundamentals of DAM technology
DAMS employ technologies such as commercially available database management
tools to handle and manage resources, allowing users to discover them with ease and
speed and owners/creators able to monitor their usage and version histories. A DAM
storage system may take the form of a number of media catalogues with pointers to
where the assets are stored (the traditional file structure), or asset repositories which hold
the media information in a database, or both. Privileges can be set to allow only in-house
staff to modify the material, and give access to all online or, by means of a password sys-
tem, to a select user group. Digital Asset Management provides a digital archive which
stores valuable resources in a pan-organisational infrastructure that helps prevent obsoles-
Digital Asset
Management Systems
Sometimes known as Media Asset Management (MAM) or Digital Media Management (DMM)
(Source: Bill Trippe, `It's a Digital World, After All: Options in Digital Asset Management', EContent
magazine (October 2001), available online at