The Widen digital asset manager series: Being a Widen DAMster with Maddie Thompson of the Wildlife Conservation Society

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Maddie is the Institutional Archivist and Digital Resources Manager at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). Before coming to the WCS, Maddie worked in rare books and manuscripts libraries. She has a Master’s in Library Science and a PhD in English.

We recently caught up with Maddie to ask her about being a Media Collective admin at the WCS. Here she is in her workspace…

Maddie Thompson of the Wildlife Conservation Society

...and here’s what she had to say!

1. What do you do at your organization? 
I wear a couple of different hats at WCS: first, I serve as the Institutional Archivist. WCS was founded in 1895, and we have about 1,200 linear feet of material dating from the 1880s to the present, composed of administrative records and correspondence, scientific field notes, scrapbooks and photo albums, artwork, publications, and ephemera created throughout the history of the institution. I work to organize, describe, and preserve these materials and to make them accessible to scholars and other researchers. In part, I do this last activity by overseeing digitization projects so that users can view our records online. Starting in January 2013, I also began serving as WCS's digital resource manager. It's a good complement to the work I do as an archivist, particularly with digitized materials, and similar to my role as archivist, I work to organize, describe, and make accessible – in this case – digital assets to WCS staff and affiliates.

2. How long have you been a user of the Widen Media Collective?
I have been using Widen since 2012, and I have been our Widen admin since January 2014.

3. In what area(s) of your organization is the Media Collective being used?
Our DAM system is used primarily by four departments: our Communications Department, our Global Resources Department, our Online Programs and Media Productions Department, and our Exhibits and Graphic Arts Department.

4. For what kinds of activities are you using the Media Collective? And, about how much time do you spend admining?
We are using it largely for sharing images and their associated metadata to staff in the departments listed above. I spend about four hours a week admining the system. As admin, I upload images, add and edit metadata, control asset groups and roles, train new users, and help with requests when needed. Our Staff Photographer also has admin status, but part of my job is to administer Widen so that she can get out and get more great shots for the collection.

5. How are your users using the Media Collective?
Our users primarily use the Media Collective to search and retrieve images for use in the media; in WCS communications, including communications with donors, members, and other supporters; and for use in exhibit design.

6. What are some of the great things your organization does? How does the Media Collective enable your organization to do those great things?
WCS's mission is to save wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature.  WCS's substantial activities include managing five wildlife parks in New York, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo, and overseeing more than 500 conservation projects worldwide. Throughout its history, WCS has sponsored groundbreaking conservation work, from the reintroduction across the American West of the almost extinct bison in the early twentieth century, to field biologist George Schaller’s foundational late-1950s studies of mountain gorillas in Congo, up to the Society’s current “96 Elephants” campaign to protect the threatened African forest elephant.

Images of the work WCS does and of the species WCS works to protect are vital to sharing our conservation message.

7. What is the best thing the Media Collective does for you?
It frees up my day to do other tasks! I would spend all of my days tracking down images for our staff if we weren't using the system. While I'm happy to assist with requests, I'm grateful that staff can retrieve images themselves.

8. What is the most important thing other users should know about using a digital asset management system?
I would stress the importance of good metadata and good search tools to any digital asset management system. A system can have the most perfect images in the world, but if users can't find them, those images are useless.

Topics: Customer Stories, DAMsters

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