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AMICO Executive Committee

Report to the AMICO Executive Committee
November 1997

David Bearman and Jennifer Trant
Archives & Museum Informatics

Executive Summary

During November, David Bearman and Jennifer Trant devoted a total 31 days to AMICO. We prepared budgets, schedules, and analytical reports which could serve as the basis for AMICO funding proposals, met with senior officials of the Mellon Foundation to present the case for AMICO, continued negotiations with the Research Libraries Group to serve as an AMICO distributor and with the Getty Information Institute to be an enhancer of AMICO data, and opened discussions with OCLC and the UK JISC as potential future distributors, and with OCLC Research and Development and Macmillan Publishing Ltd. as potential enhancers. In addition, we fielded inquiries from and expressions of interest in the university testbed project from universities, consortia, states and nations. To maintain momentum of the AMICO committees, we drafted a license from members to AMICO, a data dictionary and preliminary image specifications, compiled a profile of the Library for the Testbed Year, briefed teams at two museums and kept up a regular stream of communications with staff of other member institutions. To enhance communication between the AMICO members, we redesigned the web site, which is hosted by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

November Progress Report

Fund Raising:
In preparation for meeting with the Mellon Foundation on November 10, we prepared budgets, schedules, and analytical reports that we expect will serve as the basis for various AMICO funding proposals over the next year. They also present the most complete and up to date projections we have of the development of AMICO, so we have provided them to the Executive Committee and presume they will be made available to the board. On November 10, Mimi Gaudieri, Jennifer Trant and David Bearman met with Richard Ekman (Secretary to the Board) and Richard Quandt (Treasurer) of the Mellon Foundation and made an informal presentation of AMICO and its financial requirements. We had a very exciting talk with them and hope for encouragement to submit a formal proposal when they get back to us, as promised, in mid-December.

Regardless of the outcome, AMICO will require additional funding and we have continued to monitor other opportunities. We presume the executive committee will address the question of what other foundations to approach; Lila Wallace has been suggested. As government funding opportunities arise, we will advise on which ones to pursue and will make applications as instructed.

Most members have now provided the background documentation they have been requested to provide for such grant packages.

Distribution Agreements:
During November we continued negotiations with the Research Libraries Group to serve as the AMICO distributor in the testbed year 1998-99 and as a distributor in future years. We are close to agreement with them on the terms of a three year contract (1998-2001) in which they would:

  1. distribute The AMICO Library during the testbed year with as much functionality as possible

  2. distribute The AMICO Library to higher education in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 with the functionality required by our distributor specifications

  3. serve as the source of The AMICO Library for other distributors and the holder of the backup copy of the library

RLG is making an investment of over $250,000 in the development of software and distribution capabilities for AMICO. They have agreed to charge universities no more for subscriptions (access) to The AMICO Library than we charge in license fees and have agreed to give all AMICO members (to whom we are giving free licenses) free subscriptions to The AMICO Library.

We will present the draft agreement to the executive committee early in December and hope to have a contract drawn up for signature early in January.

We also met with OCLC, the largest distributor of digital data to public libraries in the world (23,000 public library systems) about distributing The AMICO Library to that sector in 1999-2000 - the first year of public availability of the library. They expressed interest and a willingness to present such a plan to their public library advisory committee in March 1998 and to work with AMICO thereafter to draft the appropriate licenses and contract terms. Over the next few months we will begin to formalize this relationship.

In addition, we met in London with representatives of the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) of the Higher Education Funding Councils of the UK which is responsible for maintaining networks and acquiring digital content for all UK higher education. They expressed interest in participating in the testbed and in licensing for all of UK higher education in one contract in future years. We will not take that discussion forward much further before proposing to the Executive Committee economic models for national licenses outside North America.

Data Enhancement:
After meeting with the Getty Information Institute in October, we were awaiting their response to our proposal for them to engage in a collaboration to enhance AMICO data and augment their vocabulary resources. We were disappointed that their response did not offer to undertake any data matching or data processing as part of that enhancement or commit to the updating of the vocabularies to incorporate AMICO terminology in a timely manner. We have, however, accepted their offer of free use of the GII databases and are in the process of negotiating a license. We will explore alternatives for doing this basic data enhancement.

Since the GII proposal leaves us without a means of processing the AMICO member contributions and matching them against other references resources, we've begun discussions with OCLC Research and Development both to engage in some such preprocessing of the AMICO data and to further enhance it by formatting AMICO data as "Dublin Core" conformant metadata in the new RDF format. OCLC R&D has been in the forefront of developing standards for metadata and would like to use The AMICO Library as a pilot demonstration of the power of metadata to assist users in finding resources on the Internet. Since we are very interested in achieving a high profile for The AMICO Library on the Web, this is, of course, of great interest to us as well. These negotiations will be pursued further in December with the aim of reaching a letter of agreement before January.

Very preliminary discussions are underway with KE EMU, a Canadian museum systems vendor, about providing a free license and technical support for AMICO to use their system to read and test the data contributed by member museums. This support would make it possible for AMICO to compile the initial dataset and determine its conformance with the AMICO specification before shipping it to RLG for distribution or to an enhancer. Some such capability will be required but the way we will obtain it has not yet been determined.

Further Data Enhancement/Co-Publishing/Income Generation:
We were approached by the Managing Director of Macmillan (publishers of the 34 volume Grove Dictionary of Art) about the possibility of AMICO collaborating with them in production of a long-planned, but permanently stalled, on-line version of the Grove Dictionary. The fundamental problem they face is that they cannot afford to clear rights for the 15,000 images in the Dictionary and estimate that costs of the licenses alone would exceed $2.3M ($150 average each) if they could get them. They are interested in a one stop deal to get rights by linking to an AMICO screen image (1024 x 768 x 24 bit). Preliminary discussions in London at the end of November suggested that if the Executive Committee is willing to allow such a discussion to go forward, we could probably negotiate:

  1. a sizable up front payment to AMICO

  2. license to the Grove on-line for all AMICO members

  3. integration of the Grove into The AMICO Library (20,000 artists biographies/2,000 line drawings, maps etc. owned by Macmillan) in a co-publishing agreement in which licensees of The AMICO Library would be offered the full integrated Grove/AMICO set for a modest additional subscription fee, with some sharing of income between Macmillan and AMICO.

The benefits of such a co-venture are fairly evident. We are seeking AMICO Board approval because it represents a departure from the solely non-profit aspect of all our other discussions. The timetable and technical requirements of Macmillan fit nicely into those of AMICO and would help to further support some aspects of AMICO's technical development for which we will need to seek support in any case.

University Testbed:
Throughout November we fielded numerous inquiries from universities, consortia and governments interested in participating in the 1998-99 University Testbed project. To date we have expressions of intent to submit proposals from 30 individual schools, 2 Consortia and one National Body [the UK's Joint Information System]. These institutions have proposed a wide variety of extremely exciting research projects from which AMICO will benefit, in addition to agreeing (with very little complaining) to pay the AMICO license fee and additional subscription/access charge to RLG.

University Testbed proposals are due December 15, 1997. The AMICO User and Uses Committee will select about 20 institutions to participate and present their to the Board at its January 28th meeting. We have told the universities we would announce their acceptance by the end of January. We anticipate holding a meeting with participating universities and AMICO members in the spring or early summer of 1998 and subsequent research conferences with users of The AMICO Library in future years.

AMICO Committee Activity:
  • Rights Committee:
    We drafted a license for members to assign rights to AMICO when they contribute their works to The AMICO Library. It is under discussion by the Rights Committee and others on the AMICO Discussion lists. The schedule requires us to have a final version for Board approval in January. This will then go to Legal Counsel for drafting into a formal agreement.

    Minor modifications of the University License
    The Rights Committee still needs to explore how it will approach the issues raised by contemporary artists rights and the drafting of licenses for public library and K-12 use.

    The AMICO Board needs to authorize writing of the legal language versions of the draft licenses for university and museum users and uses. These will need to be ready to offer to testbed year participants in the spring.

  • User and Uses Committee:
    The Users and Uses Committee discussed criteria for selecting participants in the University Testbed. In December and January they will apply these to the proposals we have. The schedule requires them to submit a list of approved proposals for Board review in January.

    Discussions of User needs for both the AMICO public catalogue and the AMICO University Testbed have also begun, in reference to the Public Catalogue Specification, and the Draft AMICO Data Dictionary.

    Almost all AMICO institutions have now described the works that they will contribute in the first year in such a way that we can provide testbed participants with an overview of the contents they will receive. The approximately 23,000 works which have been committed cover the range of world art reasonable well, if thinly. Non-western and twentieth century art are less well represented, but this was expected. Full descriptions of the contributions to The AMICO Library are due by the end of January, 1998.

  • Technical Operations Committee:
    We drafted a data dictionary and preliminary image format and metadata specification for discussion by the Technical Operations Committee. This group needs to make develop final specifications by early January at the latest if the technical staff at member museums are to produce the data required by RLG by the end of March. It is very likely we will need to have a face-to-face meeting of the members of this committee in December in order to reach these agreements.
AMICO Web Site:
The AMICO Web site has been completely overhauled, to reflect the transition from planning the consortium to supporting its acitivites. We have specified a new structure and developed new content; the site has been maintained and updated by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

December Projected Activity:
We do not anticipate opening up any new areas of activity in December since reaching closure on the methods of distribution and enhancement and acquiring final proposals from all potential testbed participants will engage our 'external' attention and our internal activity needs to be directed at arriving at a technical specification for AMICO contributions.

We will work with the Executive Committee in December to determine what briefing materials should be prepared for the full board meeting in January and to develop an agenda for that meeting.


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