Best Practice for Storing Assets

29/9/2020 - Katy Conover, Hearst UK

In order to determine the best way to store assets, there are several questions that need to be considered. The below list is a starting point from which to create a future plan for your assets.

1. Is the asset a physical object or a digital one?

  • Physical objects will take up more space, but they can hold more value as the original source. Additionally, the physical asset can contain information that does not translate well to a digital format, i.e. printing techniques, raised inks, construction, materials, etc. Depending upon the types of physical objects, some specialist or advanced knowledge may be needed to ensure the stability of a particular asset. Determining the physical assets that should be kept is a decision that should align with a business’s future goals.
  • Digital objects are easy to store in more compact ways or via a cloud-based solution. Digital assets are also a good way to create a digital copy of a physical asset, which allows for further use and exploitation of the original asset.

2. What type of item is being stored?

  • Physical assets include books/magazines/printed material, photographs/transparencies/negatives, illustrations/artwork, etc. These can be stored in an office environment or with an off-site storage facility. The need to access a physical asset quickly will guide types of storage options available.  Additionally, there needs to be a consideration around how long an asset will need to be stored as this will also affect available solutions.
  • Digital assets include computers, external hard drives, cloud-based service, CDs/DVDs, etc. These can take up little to no space, but can be subject to data corruption, lost original information, or being stored on obsolete technology. Care must be taken to future-proof any type of digital asset storage.

3. How long should an asset be stored?

  • The duration of time to store an asset depends upon what it is. If it is an item that contains financial, payroll, personal information, etc. then there is a legally mandated time frame. However, if the asset is of another type, more artistic in quality, has intrinsic value, then the determination will come down to how much the business is willing to spend and what type of storage is being utilized.  

4. What are the various costs associated with storage?

  • The cost initially depends on type of asset (physical or digital) and how many assets of each type need to be stored.
  • As previously mentioned, the duration that an asset will be stored will also inform any costs. It is difficult to give precise numbers as there are many variables that will inform the overall cost.
  • The cost to store digital assets can occupy less physical space, especially as many businesses are moving to cloud-based storage. And a long-term strategy must include several back-up methods. There can also be costs associated with digital assets that are the digitization of physical assets.

5. What type of metadata information should be included with a digital asset?

  • In order to ensure that all of the relevant metadata is associated with a digital asset, there are several categories that must be completed. Failing to include any of the below information can cause future problems with the reuse of a digital asset.
  • Who created this asset? How do you contact them in the future? NB GDPR regulations will apply to all personal details.
  • Why was this asset created? Was it a commissioned piece or was it created by an employee? Are there any exceptions associated with the asset?
  • Are there any restrictions for reusing this asset? If so, what are they? NB If possible, it’s good to also have all relevant documentation available. 
  • Do you own the copyright? Does the creator own the copyright? If you do not have that information, you will need to get legal advice first.
  • How do you want to organize the assets so that they can easily be found in the future? This will inform any file naming conventions, organization methods, cataloguing, etc.  

About Katy

Katy Conover is currently the Library Manager for Hearst UK.  She has an MA in History of Design from the Royal College of Art and a BA in Theatrical Design from Knox College (USA).  She has worked in the Art & Design industry for over 10 years picking up expertise in content and licensing management, archive management, and knowledge of random facts.  She has previously worked for the Victoria & Albert Museum, Derry Moore Photography, and Bloomsbury Publishing.  She lives in North London with her wife and dreams of having an entire wall of books.