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AMICO Executive Committee

Report to the AMICO Executive Committee
October 1997


David Bearman and Jennifer Trant
Archives & Museum Informatics
Summary of Activities

We devoted 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.

Status Report As of the end of October:
    The Executive Committee has adopted a budget and organizational structure and the organization has been officially announced.
  • Committees are meeting and have scheduled milestones
  • The 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
  • The Getty Information Institute has agreed to enhance the AMICO data and will present a detailed proposal to us by mid-November
  • The university testbed project has been announced and preliminary inquiries have been received from dozens of universities and educational systems about participation
  • A meeting has been scheduled with senior officers of the Mellon Foundation on November 10 to discuss funding AMICO
  • Discussions 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.

Strategic Issues
The announcement of AMICO and our efforts to get it up and running rapidly, have highlighted a number of strategic questions:
  1. Fee Schedules

    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.

  2. MDLC

    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 as:

    • more inclusive than AMICO - ready to include art, cultural history, and even science museums
    • more beneficial to museums than AMICO, since they are promising to pay members to digitize
    • more 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 content.

  3. University Testbed Project

    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.

  4. 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 North America.

    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.

  5. Fundraising

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. Community Relations

    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 Board.

Upcoming Activities
Over the next month (November), we will be:
  • Working with the Technical Operations Committee to define AMICO technical specifications for contribution to the Library.
  • Working with the Users and Uses Committee to finalize evaluation criteria for the responses to the University Testbed Call and to refine the research agenda.
  • Meeting with Ian Jacobs, the Managing Director of MacMillan Reference Ltd, regarding possible collaboration with their Dictionary of Art project.
  • Meeting with OCLC regarding distribution beyond the testbed year.
  • Negotiating with RLG and the GII regarding their proposals for testbed year data distribution and enhancement.
  • Exploring collaboration with OCLC Research and Development Office regarding Dublin Core metadata and the AMICO catalog.
  • Developing a coordinated fundraising strategy and timetable.
  • Drafting a preliminary proposal and meeting with the Mellon Foundation regarding funding the start-up of AMICO.


November 1, 1997
JT/DB


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