John Dewees and Pauline Schwartzman

John Dewees and Pauline Schwartzman

Last updated on 2 June 2023

John Dewees is the Digital Asset Management Lead at the University of Rochester and Pauline Schwartzman is the Digital Asset Management Analyst at the University of Rochester.

In this blog post, John Dewees and Pauline Schwartzman write about their experiences using The DPC’s Digital Preservation Competency Framework at the University of Rochester Libraries (URL).

 Overview of Department and Staff


In 2021, the staff at the University of Rochester Libraries (URL) decided to build out capacity in digital asset management (DAM) and digital preservation, as this was an area that had seen some struggles in years past. URL leadership chose Preservica in mid-2021 as a technology solution, and two staff were hired, me as DAM Lead who came in as an external hire in October 2021, and Pauline Schwartzman as DAM Analyst who transferred internally into the role in January 2023 and reports to me. Organizationally, we’re situated in the Digital Initiatives (DI) department of the URL, though Pauline and I often feel like a “micro-department” somewhat unto ourselves (which we call Repository Services) and are more likely to be working with folks in other departments such as special collections, digitization, or metadata, rather than our fellow department members, on projects.



Although I am relatively new to the Digital Asset Management Analyst role, I am not new to the URL. Before joining Digital Initiatives, I worked at URL as a subject liaison librarian for the English, Film Studies, and Music departments for about three years. This was very much a “front facing” position in that it involved interfacing quite a bit with university students and faculty, especially through instruction sessions and research consultations. As a result, I learned a lot about how library patrons use different library resources such as the online catalog, digital tools, and digital archives.

Despite having worked at URL, I knew very little about the Digital Initiatives department, and even less about its digital preservation work. Because the University of Rochester’s library system is so large, there tends to be quite a bit of siloing between departments, and as a result there had not been much opportunity for me to work directly with Digital Initiatives during my time as a Liaison Librarian. However, when I joined DI, I found that there were a lot of similarities between my old department and my new department, especially in the way that they approached professional development and goal setting. Like my old department, DI highly valued ongoing learning throughout the work process. This was especially true in my position, which was brand new to the organization and therefore required a lot of learning and professional development when I started. The DPC Competency Framework was an invaluable tool in helping me understand what I needed to learn, as well as what skills I already had that would be pertinent to my new role.


Using the Competency Framework Pre-Hire


While I had supervised the work output of folks in previous positions, this was my first crack at actually being someone’s manager. We had a job description on hand for the DAM Analyst position, but I wasn’t involved with crafting it, as that had happened before I started with the organization, and I was a little curious how it would end up matching up to the day-to-day. Since this was a new service area, with new staff, and newly adopted technology, there were just a lot of unknowns flying around. I had the good fortune to watch the Public Launch webinar offered on October 19, 2022 about the newly launched Digital Preservation Competency Framework (DPCF) and immediately got excited about it.

This was a terrific way to break down all the myriad specific aspects of the work a librarian engaged in digital preservation might do and let me figure out what I would be responsible for, what the DAM Analyst would be responsible for, and what aspects of the service model we would share. I set about filling out the “Relevant to Role?” and “Target Skill Level” columns in the accompanying DPC Competency Audit Toolkit (DPC CAT) to help me think through exactly what I wanted the DAM Analyst to be doing, and for that matter, myself.



DAM Analyst “Relevant to Role?” Examples




Effective Communication

Policy Development

Risk Management

Computer Programming

Stakeholder Analysis and Engagement

System Procurement

Metadata Standards and Implementation

Information Security

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

Those Skill Elements marked as “Yes” were areas that I wanted Pauline to be able to work with a high degree of independence or were essential to ensuring our work is done well. Those Skill Elements marked as “Partially” generally meant that ultimately, I would be responsible, but Pauline’s input would be essential. Finally, those areas marked “No” were outside the bounds of Pauline’s job description, and in some cases, outside my own for that matter.



New Staff Member Assessment


Now to actually put the Framework to use! The intended use case of the DPCF was to evaluate Pauline’s skills against the targets I had set to determine what areas were going to need professional development and in what areas she had existing strengths. From there we could set goals and map out a big picture view of her first year of work and what it would involve. Additionally, it provided a structured way to start to get to know each other as well, with each skill set acting as a discussion point to learn more about Pauline’s previous positions, graduate coursework, and experience.


Goal Setting


Of the skill areas that were relevant to my work, the ones that in which I was already most competent were in the “Communications and Advocacy” area. Most of these, including Effective Communication, Collaboration and Teamwork, and User Analysis and Engagement were also important in my last position at the library, so I had my three years’ worth of experience to back up my competency in these skills. The skill in which I would have to develop more competency was Workflow Development and Implementation. In my previous role, my experience in this area was mainly limited to developing teaching and learning plans for library instruction. In order to develop proficiency in this skill in my new role, I worked with John on creating a documentation template to be used for future Digital Preservation projects.  In creating this template, I had the opportunity to learn about good practices when it comes to documentation, especially for digital projects and metadata.

The DPC Framework also gave me a clearer idea of where I needed to improve my proficiency in technical skills, especially in the “Information Technology” and “Digital Preservation Domain Specific” sections. In particular, I needed to improve my proficiency in Computer Programming and General IT Literacy. I was not completely new to programming, having learned a bit of XML and HTML in library school. Being familiar with XML would come in handy when it came to looking at the metadata of the items previously digitized; however, I would have to learn Python, which we used to automate the process of ingesting digital assets into Preservica, our digital asset management system.


Future Assessment


One of the great things about the DPCF is that it provides an opportunity to track progress over time. The annual review process at URL runs along our fiscal year, (e.g., from July 2022 to June 2023). As Pauline started in her new position on New Year’s Day, this falls squarely in the middle of that review period, and conveniently lets us use the DPCF in the future as a tool for a mid-year check-in process and to start thinking about what sorts of goals might be appropriate and desired for the upcoming year.

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