Bearman and Jennifer Trant, Archives & Museum Informatics
Archives & Museum Informatics devoted 12 days
to AMICO business in December.
Much of the activity was directed to getting agreement from AMICO Committees
to next steps in the processes. We conducted a survey to map data in
AMICO members systems to the proposed data dictionary (involving much
assistance on our part) and continued our discussion with members of
the Technical Committee to establish a specification for the structured
data to be contributed to The AMICO Library. We drafted a "License to
AMICO" and conducted a discussion with the Rights Committee about its
terms. We initiated a discussion by the Users and Uses Committee of
the functional requirements for access to The AMICO Library.
Our external activity was focused on continuing the discussion of terms
for a distribution contract with the Research Libraries Group and continuing
discussions about funding with the Mellon Foundation.
several other organizations to make formal proposals to AMICO with respect
to activities they had previously expressed interest in: Macmillan Reference
Ltd. about possible co-publishing agreements regarding the Grove Dictionary
of Art, the Joint Information Steering Committee of the Higher Education
Funding Councils of the UK about a UK-wide license to AMICO, and commercial
vendors about processing AMICO data prior to its transfer to RLG.
preparation for the AMICO Executive Committee and Board meetings in
January. Agendas were drafted and circulated.
fairly extended on-line discussions and one face-to-face conversation
with universities considering participation in the test-bed project.
We processed the applications received from the universities interested
in participating in the test-bed project and posted these to a discussion
of the User and Uses Committee.
discussions with Don Waters of the National Digital Library Federation
on ways for AMICO to collaborate with NDLF, including the possibility
of NDLF co-sponsorship of an AMICO University Testbed research conference.
As of the end of December, we have received 18 proposals from about
80 universities to participate in the testbed. The reason for the difference
in numbers of proposals and numbers of universities is that several
proposals came from groups of universities. According to our agreement
with RLG and our own plans for the test-bed, we can accept about 20
university participants, so we will probably limit some of the groups
of institutions to having only a few of their university members participate
during the first year.
We have begun discussion of final terms for the contract with the Research
Libraries Group to be the distributor for the test-bed year and two
years beyond. Under this agreement they will invest a minimum of $250,000
in developing a system to provide access to The AMICO Library and will
provide free access to AMICO members.
initiated all the Committee decision processes that must be concluded
prior to the January Board meeting in order to bring staff decisions
forward for board approval.
continued the discussions with the Mellon Foundation on possible funding
for AMICO as a whole. In the most recent communications, they have asked
us to provide assurance that other museums will join AMICO, that software
will be developed by distributors, and that universities will license
the product. We are confident in our responses to the last two questions,
but recognize the need for a "waiting list" of AMICO applicants. We
hope the Executive Committee will recruit potential members to join.
drafted a letter of intent for the Hitachi Foundation for funding of
a portion of the AMICO test-bed project. This is only the first, and
far from the most promising, of the outside funding opportunities we
will pursue to support specific project activity of AMICO.
Three issues of crucial importance to AMICO have not yet been attended
to and must be completed before the Board meeting in January.
first of these involve establishing the legal basis for AMICO and
its activities. Specifically, we need to have counsel draft:
a membership agreement
- AMICO by-laws
- a License to AMICO
- a License from AMICO to Universities
- a License from AMICO to Museums
needs to acquire multimedia liability coverage and directors/trustees
liability coverage for the testbed year. We are investigating this
coverage, which is available from Chubb among others.
must ensure that AMICO members fulfill their commitments and meet
schedules. RLG and the Mellon Foundation are not convinced that AMICO
members will contribute the data promised on time and in a usable
fashion. We are also a bit nervous because a sizable fraction of the
AMICO membership does not participate in the on-line discussions or
and has missed deadlines to contribute the information we have requested
in the past. The AMICO Executive Committee needs to find a means to
ensure that AMICO members fulfill their commitments to AMICO.
In order to obtain funding from the Mellon Foundation, and to convince
distributors that we will have a product of value to distribute, we
need to be able to demonstrate that museums want to join AMICO and that
they are prepared to contribute content to the library. Both the Mellon
and RLG would like to see a quite a few new members wanting to join
AMICO after the January AAMD meeting in order to give them the confidence
that both for existing members to perceive a benefit and for new members
to want to join, will require that AMICO provide concrete benefits to
those who have taken the risk of joining. We also suspect that the risk
of losing such benefits may be the strongest means available to AMICO
to ensure that members meet their commitment to the Consortium. We see
these benefits taking the form of access to better content and assistance
in compiling and validating their data. While the AMICO staff will ultimately
provide this kind of assistance, it will probably take several years
before members believe that this has substantial value. There are two
opportunities on our current horizon to demonstrate the benefits of
with Macmillan Reference Ltd. could result in all members of AMICO
having access to the Grove Dictionary of Art and all Founding Members
of AMICO receiving a share of royalties . Financing from a licensing
opportunity, which was not available to individual AMICO members,
would enable AMICO to establish support structures for members immediately
rather than in two years as planned.
with the Joint Information Steering Committee in the UK towards the
end of providing all UK Higher Education institutions with access
to AMICO and developing software for enhanced access to The AMICO Library, could ensure licensing income for AMICO in a deal that also
gets The AMICO Library positioned in Europe as the beginning of a
major push for European content and access.
We have considered the response by the GII to our request that they
work with us to extend their vocabulary resources and incorporate AMICO
data. In the light of their unwillingness to commit to any concrete
support for data matching or provide specific time frames for turning
data around even if we invested in the matching process, we recommend
that AMICO remove plans to use the GII vocabularies from its critical
in October, current plans do not detail how the data contributed by
member museums will be collated into a single coherent format for transmission
to the distributors. We have taken initial steps of determining the
costs of this service (budgeted at $46,000) and will need to sign contracts
by the end of January.
to believe that AMICO's standing in the community would be enhanced
by joining several cultural heritage networking organizations and recruiting
a high level advisory board to advise the Executive Committee. 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
Over the first three months of its operations, AMICO expenses are almost
exactly on budget. We expect other operational costs for the remaining
nine months to be on budget as well. Major areas of concern are:
pro-bono legal help to draft the agreements required to establish
most data enhancement in the absence of assistance from the GII
income projections for 1997/98 may be low. While we will bring in $10,000
more income from members than was projected (c.$94,000 as opposed to
$84,000), we are unlikely to obtain the scheduled $120,000 in outside
funding budgeted this fiscal year. The timing of grant proposal cycles
is such that none of the grant funding proposals is likely to be successful
in this fiscal year. [On the other hand, if the discussions with the
Mellon Foundation are successful, they will bring in funding this fiscal
year and beyond which is adequate to pay all of AMICO's budgeted shortfalls.]
approved AMICO budgets, we projected a spring meeting with university
testbed participants and AMICO members that would break even in its
costs. While this has no budgetary consequences, we are still holding
off on organizing the meeting in order to assess whether the effort
that would be involved would be worth the benefits we hope would accrue.
We anticipate that this decision will be made in February, after discussions
with the accepted university test-bed participants.
Last modified on