David Bearman and Jennifer Trant
Archives & Museum Informatics
Summary of Activities
41 days to the establishment of AMICO in October. These were spent preparing
background briefing materials and recommendations for the Executive
Committee meeting on October 14, meeting with the Technical Operations
and Users & Uses Committees, briefing the Museum Computer Network and
the Coalition for Networked Information, negotiationing with the Research
Libraries Group and the Getty Information Institute, and launching the
university test-bed project with a call-for-participation. We also maintained
close communications with working members of AMICO, the President of
the Board and the AAMD Liaison for Information Technology.
Report As of the end of October:
Committee has adopted a budget and organizational structure and the
organization has been officially announced.
are meeting and have scheduled milestones
Research Libraries Group has agreed to serve as a distributor of The AMICO Library for the testbed year (and beyond) and will present a
detailed proposal to us by mid-November
Getty Information Institute has agreed to enhance the AMICO data and
will present a detailed proposal to us by mid-November
university testbed project has been announced and preliminary inquiries
have been received from dozens of universities and educational systems
meeting has been scheduled with senior officers of the Mellon Foundation
on November 10 to discuss funding AMICO
have been opened with the Image Directory (Academic Press) and Corbis
Inc. about benefits that could be made available to AMICO members
which would like to use either of these entities for commercial licensing.
Discussions have been scheduled with MacMillan's Dictionary of Art.
The announcement of AMICO and our efforts to get it up and running rapidly,
have highlighted a number of strategic questions:
In the absence of time or funds for market research, we set a fee
structure for individual university licenses based on our sense
of what the market would accept (with concurrence of Harry Parker
& Max Anderson). Initial reaction from the university community
suggests that this fee was considered reasonable for single institutions
licensing the Library. However, we have been approached by groups
of institutions of one type (consortia of universities), groups
of more than one type (state-wide networks of libraries and museums),
regions, and whole countries (the UKÕs Joint Information Systems
Commission). Some of these scenarios involve both distribution agreements
and licenses; some may be bulk license purchases. Presently we are
not quoting any fees for these more complex arrangements, as we
are still developing strategy. We will propose a schedule in November
for Board approval.
During October, a potentially competitive organization, the Museum
Digital Licensing Collective (MDLC), was formed. MDLC hopes to receive
AAM backing and to conduct a 9-12 month planning exercise with museums
(quite similar to that which we conducted with AMICO) in order to
shape an organization that they emphasize would "license the digital
contents of ALL museums". They conducting an ambitious fundraising
effort to support their activities and are presenting themselves
inclusive than AMICO - ready to include art, cultural history,
and even science museums
beneficial to museums than AMICO, since they are promising to
pay members to digitize
beneficial to universities than AMICO, since they are promising
free licenses (for a while).
We believe our best response to the MDLC is to continue doing what
we are doing, to reinforce that AMICO membership is open to non-AAMD
members, and to try to raise funds to cover our own operational
expenses in the initial years. Over the longer term, in order to
respond to university requirements, the AMICO Board may need to
reconsider the policy of charging a separate license fee to universities
when their museums are members of AMICO and to find ways to enable
universities which license The AMICO Library to also contribute
We have announced availability of The AMICO Library through a University
Testbed Project, in 1998-99. The Testbed is structured around a
Research Agenda worked out by AMICO Members. The Call for Participation
asks interested universities to propose projects that would assist
in our enhancing The AMICO Library and services. To get the most
from the Testbed, it is essential that we deliver the best Library
we can to this first group of users and that we work with the selected
universities to learn how to improve our product. We should aim
to make sure that all substantial questions which the Board has
about AMICO project are being addressed in this research. To that
end, weÕll recommend that the Board allow time to discuss the goals
and objectives of the Testbed, as well as the selection of the participants,
at its first meeting.
New AMICO Members
Opening AMICO membership to museums (archives, libraries etc.) worldwide
raises a number of strategic issues. We must determine a viable
rate of growth, and establish an approach to acquiring content beyond
It is our view that AMICO can double in size next year (from 25
to 50 members). After that it will be able to grow by an absolute
maximum of 50 member museums a year. We may, therefore, need to
control growth if interest in joining runs high. How best to do
this is a matter for board discussion.
Our response to institutions outside North American wanting to join
AMICO needs to be carefully thought through. We know that interest
is high and can expect some applicants soon. Before we accept them,
we need to determine how foreign content should be incorporated
into The AMICO Library. Options include bringing in individual foreign
members, and negotiating on a national basis with AMICO-like entities
for international trades. The relationships between these models,
and possible national licensing options needs to be explored carefully.
While the prospects for AMICO self-sufficiency after five years
are improving as a result of our success with the distributors and
potential licensees, the need to have sufficient capital in the
next few years to implement AMICO successfully increases as our
visibility and expectations rise. We need to structure a proposal
to a major foundation to carry the costs of the first phase, so
we can get on with actually doing the work. A meeting has been scheduled
with the Mellon Foundation, at which we will present a proposal
for multi-year, multi-million dollar funding to support AMICO start-up.
We are also developing a fund-raising strategy that will link funding
needs with grant options on a sector by sector basis.
Data Assembly by AMICO
Current plans do not detail a strategy for the collation of data
contributed by the individual museums into a single coherent format
for transmission to the enhancers and distributors. We need both
to reserve the budgeted $46,000 for this purpose and move relatively
quickly to contract out this work.
We believe that AMICO's standing in the community, and thus our
effectiveness in achieving our goals, would be enhanced significantly
by joining several cultural heritage networking organizations. The
organizations we would propose having AMICO join are: the National
Initiative for Network Cultural Heritage (NINCH), the Coalition
for Networked Information (CNI) and the Consortium for Computer
interchange of Museum Information (CIMI).
Creating a high level advisory board to advise the Executive Committee
would provide us with links into the communities we wish to serve.
The Advisory Committee we recommend would have approximately 8 members
representing the following sectors: Higher Education, K-12 education,
Academic Libraries, Public Libraries, Networking, The Arts, Intellectual
Property Law, and Foundations. We will be drafting a list of possible
nominees for Board consideration, and welcome any input from the
Over the next month (November), we will be:
with the Technical Operations Committee to define AMICO technical
specifications for contribution to the Library.
with the Users and Uses Committee to finalize evaluation criteria
for the responses to the University Testbed Call and to refine the
with Ian Jacobs, the Managing Director of MacMillan Reference Ltd,
regarding possible collaboration with their Dictionary of Art project.
with OCLC regarding distribution beyond the testbed year.
with RLG and the GII regarding their proposals for testbed year data
distribution and enhancement.
collaboration with OCLC Research and Development Office regarding
Dublin Core metadata and the AMICO catalog.
a coordinated fundraising strategy and timetable.
a preliminary proposal and meeting with the Mellon Foundation regarding
funding the start-up of AMICO.
November 1, 1997
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