Your Marketing Department Needs A Digital Librarian

Late one Thursday night, in a dark, empty office, a computer screen illuminates the face of a hunched-over 20-something. He’s the newish marketing guy, a young-in with a carefully manicured beard and black-framed glasses. Reds, blues, and greens light up his face as he scrolls through photo after photo, unable to find the one. 

An email from the boss echoes in his head. “For the product launch tomorrow, we need you to cue up that photo of an accountant playing tug-of-war with an orangutan.” 

The newish guy is a marketing technologist but also the de facto “finder of stuff.” This inglorious role siphons away five hours a week from the work he was hired to do.

The photo is nowhere to be found. Did the designer leave it on her Mac? 

The finder of stuff has become a popular role with the explosion of content. But the job wastes time, delays projects, heightens the risk of copyright infringement, and distracts people from valuable tasks. I want the finder of the stuff to disappear and be replaced with a better marketing role: Digital Librarian. 



Why a librarian? With all the cloud storage platforms, content libraries, and digital asset management (DAM) systems out there, why would you need a specialist to organize content?

About four years ago, my company’s marketing content fell into disarray. We contracted a digital librarian to fix the problem and learned just how little we knew about the science of organizing information. 

For better or worse, content is exploding in volume. When the Content Marketing Institute polled marketers for its annual B2B report, 70% said they planned to produce more content in 2017 than they did in 2016. We’re creating and keeping more digital stuff. Thus, finders of stuff can expect more late-night searches — unless a librarian intervenes.

What do librarians do differently? Think of them as information architects. If you’re constructing a skyscraper, and the architectural plan at the ground level is flawed, the tower faces an increasingly higher risk of collapse as you add weight to the foundation. The same is true with information. Without a thoughtful taxonomy, the tower of content crumbles at scale.

Librarians organize and describe information in relation to your brand mission, meaning their schema anticipates the reasons you’d use the content. As an example, for any given piece of content, the librarian figures out:

  • What keywords would a person use to find this content? In an organization that helps with animal adoption, users might search pets, rescues, animal shelters, dogs, cats, etc. to find a video of a person choosing an adoptee. The librarian would test these words and add to them or adapt if they don’t lead to downloads.
  • What other data does a person need to use the content correctly? Perhaps an expiration date, company division, or channel instruction (e.g. “web only”) will ensure that people use it properly.   

The librarian is an essential role, not just a luxury, because the ease of finding content changes the value of that content. If you can find it, you use it more often. In the data (if your content library collects it), success appears as a high volume of downloads made in minimal time per session. 

Hire a librarian so you can sleep easy knowing that photo of the accountant and orangutan will be found. Your ex-finder of stuff will sleep better (and more often) too. 

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