Digital library managers are part of a new wave of technologically-savvy library managers. What exactly is a digital library, you might ask? A digital library is a special type of library that includes a collection of digital assets. These assets can be in the form of visual material, audio, video or text, all of which are in electronic media format. It is a library, which means that this digital information is organized, stored, and retrievable by users. Content in a digital library can be stored locally or remotely and accessible by networks.
The content in digital libraries might have existed only in digital form, or might have been converted from another format to digital. These libraries have an advantage over “traditional” libraries in that they can be updated daily and accessed instantly by users. As they have no physical boundaries, they can store more information and also can offer access to multiple resources at the same time.
A digital library manager is involved in the general operation and management of one (or more) of these digital libraries, including its organization, management, staffing, and usage. Here, we will explore the job of digital library manager, which is just one of the many career possibilities available for those holding a Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree.
What Does a Digital Library Manager Do?
A digital library manager is responsible for overseeing the general operations of a digital library. This also includes managing staff and reporting to the digital library director. It might include managing a digital library budget. Other skills that a digital library manager might be required to do include:
- Have full knowledge of the services, equipment and materials in the digital library
- Have full knowledge of how the digital library works and the functions of all staff
- Understand how to catalog digital library materials, including standards of cataloging
- Manage staff, which might include hiring and firing and performing staff evaluations
- Manage the digital library’s budget and expenditures
- Have expertise in computer programming languages, formats and standards
- Be able to bridge the technical worlds of digital tools and services with non-technical users
- Assist users of digital libraries in finding information, either in-person or online
- Excellent communication skills mainly in writing but also orally
- Digital asset management – understanding the objectives of the collection and users and the systems that enable them
- Ability to create a digital asset management system
- Database management expertise
- Knowledge of digital preservation best practices
- Understanding the unique characteristics and cataloging requirements of various media
- Mastery of project management skills and software
- Understanding basic web usability and user experience principles and techniques
Tools and Technology Used by Digital Library Managers
Digital library managers must be intimately familiar with the latest digital technology trends and programs. Keeping up-to-date on these latest trends is vital to be a successful digital library manager. In addition to providing computers and internet access for library patrons, the following tools and technology are important to digital library managers:
- Makerspaces- these give users (mainly children) the opportunity to take concepts learned in the classroom and apply them to real-world situation. This is especially important in teaching and learning STEM concepts.
- User-focused interfaces – these are technological innovations that improve the user experience in the library. They may include Browse, a way for patrons to browse library catalogs; Bulletins, which act as virtual bulletin boards for library information; and Slideshows, which showcase works found in the library through a digital display
- Cloud technologies – cloud hosting can greatly benefit the library, offering better reliability, performance and security than local implementation
- Software and repositories to manage collections – there are many free and pay programs of software and repositories to manage digital collections – as there are so many available, we won’t single any of them out here
Where do Digital Library Managers Work?
Digital library manager work wherever there are digital libraries. This may be in a central server area, or within a physical library itself. Corporations have digital libraries, as do other types of companies, and academic institutions. Many times, users won’t physically “see” the digital library manager, as they will only encounter them online if they have a question or problem. Some digital library managers do, however, work within the physical library, managing the digital portion of the library’s collection.
Education for Digital Library Managers
Digital library managers should have a MLIS or MLS, preferably with a specialization in digital libraries, library management, or digital library management. Some schools’ MLIS programs are targeted more towards digital libraries and technology, and these would be the best programs for those intending to work in digital library management. Fittingly, many such programs are offered completely or partly online. Some examples of digital-leaning MLIS programs include those at:
- Drexel University- Master of Library and Information Science (online)
- University of Southern California – Master of Management in Library and Information Science 9online)
- Indiana University – Master of Library and Information Science (online)
- University of Maryland College Park – Master of Library and Information Science – Digital Librarianship specialization (hybrid)
Course topics that you will likely encounter in a Digital Library Manager MLIS program include:
- Information environments
- Information technology and organizational content
- Users and use control
- Management of information programs and services
- Introduction to strategic information management
Jobs for Digital Library Managers
Digital library manager positions abound across the United States. They may be termed differently, but almost all of them will have “digital” or “electronic” in the title. A quick perusal of online job sites recently came up with the following jobs available:
- Electronic Resources Management Librarian – California State University Channel Islands- starting salary approximately $80,000 annually
- Digital Asset Manager – Amazon.com, Hawthorne, CA- salary not given
- Assistant Director, Digital Commons – Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN- starting salary $75,816 yearly
- Open Scholarship Repository Manager- Princeton University, NJ – starting salary $90,000 annually
- Manager of Digital Scholarly Software and Systems – Dartmouth, NH – starting salary $90,000 annually
- Knowledge Manager – Accelera Solutions, Fairfax, VA- salary $85,000 annually