Designing for Scope, Embracing Drift: Customizing Metadata with Open-source Software and Grassroots Efforts

  • Carolyn J. Lucarelli The Pennsylvania State University
  • Stephanie Swindle Thomas The Pennsylvania State University
Keywords: digital asset management, DAM, image management, metadata, taxonomy, photo archive, communications, collaboration, open-source, ResourceSpace


Digital asset management (DAM) refers to the process of collecting, cataloging, delivering, and preserving digital assets, while digital asset management systems (DAMS) provide users with a central location to search, locate, access, and share those assets in an easy and efficient way. DAM is now an established technology category and a rapidly growing field within the corporate sector, however, the nonprofit sector is dealing with similar issues and challenges in their efforts to effectively and efficiently store, manage, preserve, and distribute digital content for their organizations. Many nonprofit institutions, such as those in higher education, have limited resources with fewer staff and lower budgets, making the establishment of a DAMS challenging. This article focuses on the implementation of a photo archive management system for The Pennsylvania State University’s College of Arts and Architecture by a small dedicated team using open-source software. The team’s approach to technical and staff resources, budgeting, and metadata are outlined.

Author Biographies

Carolyn J. Lucarelli, The Pennsylvania State University

Carolyn Lucarelli has worked as a visual resources curator in the Department of Art History Visual Resources Centre (VRC) at The Pennsylvania State University since 1998. Before coming to Penn State, she was assistant museum librarian in the Photograph and Slide Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and assistant curator of visual resources in the Department of Art History at Dartmouth College. In addition to her role as a co-creator of the Arts and Architecture Resource Collaborative (AARC) at Penn State, she leads the VRC, which manages the Art History Department digital image collection and the Palmer Museum of Art public online collection. Recently, she has also been instrumental in developing new initiatives in Digital Art History. She holds a B.A. in Art History from Columbia University and an M.A. in Art History from Dartmouth College.

Stephanie Swindle Thomas, The Pennsylvania State University

Stephanie Swindle Thomas is the Public Relations Coordinator for the College of Arts and Architecture at The Pennsylvania State University and co-creator of the Arts and Architecture Resource Collaborative (AARC). She is also a photographer and major content contributor to AARC. Prior to working at Penn State, she created Rhodes College’s photo archive using CONTENTdm and worked as the Marketing and Exhibitions Coordinator at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, TN. In May 2017, her photographs were featured in a solo exhibition, “Give Me Your Portrait,” at Penn State. In February, she had a photograph in the Art Alliance of Central Pennsylvania’s photography show, “Art at the End of the Lens.”

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