10 librarian principles to embrace to help manage your content

10 librarian principles to embrace to help manage your content

Now, we all know marketers waste countless hours hunting for graphics, photos, and videos inside of software that is supposed to make it all findable (DAM). Only one person — a.k.a. a “finder of stuff” — knows where anything is. Maybe you’re this person at your company and you’re thinking there has to be a better way!

Well, the answer is, you need a digital librarian. That’s why companies of all sizes, especially enterprises, hire a digital librarian to organize their digital assets — to make them accessible, findable, and usable. We believe librarians are the best steward for any content system.

Not possible to hire a librarian? Perhaps you can find someone who has librarian tendencies — detail oriented to the max, strategic then tactical, they really want people to go away with a positive experience in finding what they need — or you can acquire librarian principles on your own, which is what this article is about today!

So, consider a digital librarian or how you can “acquire” librarian principles.
Digital librarians empower people to find what they need, when they need it. They excel in content management roles because librarians are masters at connecting people with information. Not only are they well organized, but they help others do their jobs better because they present the right information.

10 librarian principles to embrace today

These are some core values of librarianship (inspired by a librarian we admire!) that you can apply to content management.

  1. Find your what. Find your what before anything else, and then create access to it. This could be anything that represents your company’s story and/or showcases your products in the best possible light. Your what could contain photos of products, brand elements (like logos, templates), stock photos, and any other ingredients that build your story.
  2. Create standards. Develop controlled vocabularies and subject taxonomies based on your industry. If everyone is following the same standards, your content will be findable.
  3. Document everything. Set yourself up for future success by documenting any final decisions you make, and include scope notes in a governance document. A governance document will future-proof your collection, which means that if the system gets handed off to another librarian, they will know exactly what to do.
  4. Follow collection development principles. Any good collection or content policy should include defined rules. A collection development policy represents the overall strategy and process of your DAM. It also defines user roles and permissions, where content comes from, record retention, and lifecycles.
  5. Set lifecycle and retention policies. Policies for asset lifecycles and record retention can evolve over time, but have a starting point. A good starting point is to just start to track a lifecycle through observation and user behavior.
  6. Teach ‘em to fish. Show your users how to perform tasks on their own. This is the key to getting new users onboarded, current users reintroduced or reminded, and power users to be more connected.
  7. Keep it tidy. Archiving and record retention should be part of an asset management policy. Most assets have an expiration date, which helps keep the content library clean.
  8. Be helpful. Treat users the way you would want to be treated, encourage feedback, and be empathetic to their experience with the system. If the end goal of an evangelist is to get staff to use the system, it helps if you’re nice about it.
  9. Connect with your users. This is the fun part and where you’ll learn the most. See what your users have to say and what they need in their day to day in an effort to support the company. You’ll get a sense of what is and isn’t working and gain a perspective that’ll inform future decisions.
  10. Embrace change. Evaluate your processes and policies every six or 12 months through QA searches, report on use, purge data, and report top performers. Don’t resist change. It can be good and make the system easier to use.

We believe digital librarians will become a standard role in content marketing organizations in the future. So if it’s not possible to hire a librarian, try to acquire some librarian principles.


Are you a librarian? Share with us what librarian principles you think can be applied to content management.

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