Getting Started with Digital Asset Management

Contact us if you would like more information on starting an online repository.

The following are some tips and strategies about building digital archives from some of our current partners.

Prioritize and make time to plan

Take enough time for planning, defining goals and scope, and deciding how the repository will be organized.

  • Define repository goals, vision, and organization early on in the planning process.
  • Start small and select a top priority, high impact collection that can help build support.
  • Take time to plan: prioritize, anticipate issues, figure out roles and allow time for testing.
  • Define a metadata approach of detailed or minimal. This can impact the organization and structure of the repository.
  • PALS recommends using one format and starting with a manageable, attractive collection.

Reasons for starting digital asset management

Quotes on the importance of digital asset management from current partners.

  • “It’s something the college kind of tried to do with software another department purchased. It wasn’t done very well and the current digital asset management is a mess. Allowing access to the history of the institution is an important part of fostering community and growing the mission,” Heidi Johnson and Kevin McGrew, the College of St. Scholastica.
  • “Yes, it is worth it! It is a great way to connect with Alumni, and the search capabilities make it so effective for university historical research. The most valuable aspect for me has been finding ways to connect with others across campus; it’s been a great way for the library to take the lead on the university’s digital initiatives,” Pam Gladis, Southwest Minnesota State University.

Gaining institutional support

Think about which departments or individuals might help support a digital archives initiative, and choose a first collection accordingly. Choosing the right collection can be key to gaining the needed support. The following are some tips on how to be strategic.

  • First collection:
    • Be strategic when choosing your first collection. Think about which departments or individuals it may appeal to. They can then become your biggest supporter and partner, enabling you to move forward with the project.
    • Choose a collection that is attractive and will resonate across campus. Some options include yearbooks, Alumni newsletters, photographs or videos of college events.
    • Choose a collection that is manageable, like a few years of a yearbook, newsletters, or photographs from an important event. This is a great way to get started and have something to show potential partners.
  • Start with born-digital material:
    • “We are working on a mass upload (17,000) of more recent photographs that were in the marketing department’s digital asset management as they were born digital and do not require scanning,” Heidi Johnson and Kevin McGrew.
  • Start with high-quality material and save money through consolidation:
    • “Next, we continued with the college’s publications we had in another database as they also were already scanned, they are the most heavily used by researchers, and having them in Islandora will allow us to discontinue paying for the other database thus saving money,” Heidi Johnson and Kevin McGrew.

Tips on funding strategies

The following are a few tips on funding.

  • Southwest Minnesota State University applied for special funding grants through the University Foundation and formed a successful partnership with the University Foundation.
  • Cloud Technical and Community College paid for repository out of library budget with some additional funding from technology fees. Now ongoing costs are built into the annual library budget.

Staffing possibilities

This is how a few of our partners have managed staffing for work related to their digital repository. 

  • If available, use student workers. Minnesota State University, Mankato has had two main staff, and two or three support staff, plus student workers.  Their physical space is set up so that it is easy for the student workers to work together with supervisory staff.
  • Look to other departments to help with staffing. St. Cloud Technical and Community College worked with their information technology department, marketing and communications, and library staff.
  • The College of St. Scholastica has had one full time staff person, one part-time, and a few student workers or technicians. They would like to train members of the community outside of the library to load their own photographs and documents, making their digital repository more sustainable and essential to the college's mission.

Contact our partners

Please find contact information for some of our partners if you want to talk to them about Islandora and our services.

Additional resources

For more information on Islandora, please see the following resources.