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AMICO Executive Committee

Art Museum Information Consortium (AMICO)
Archives & Museum Informatics:
Activities Report
January 1998


Archives & Museum Informatics devoted 43 days of consulting to AMICO in January. This full-time effort revolved around several major deadlines, all achieved:

  • completion, with the Technical Operations Committee of a technical specification
  • completion, with the Users Committee, of a decision on University Testbed applications
  • completion, with the Rights Committee, of the terms of the License to AMICO
  • preparation of background materials and briefing papers for the Executive Committee and Board meetings in Los Angeles
  • completion of negotiations with the Research Libraries Group on being the Distributor of The AMICO Library in the testbed year
  • completion of an RFP (Request-for-Proposals) for data processing services

In addition, we continued discussions with the Mellon Foundation, regarding funding and submitted an ˝Intention to Submitţ to the Hitachi Foundation. We recruited a legal advisor (Michael Shapiro) and negotiated an agreement with him to provide largely pro bono legal assistance over the next five months.

Technical Specifications
The most critical, and complex task of AMICO═s initial year was to reach agreement on the specification for data to be provided to AMICO by its members, and from AMICO to the distributors and end users. We faced a number of issues that are familiar, if difficult to resolve, in the world of data interchange and quite a few issues which have never previously been resolved but required working solutions for AMICO to begin to build its library. The Technical Operations Committee held on-line discussions and we conducted research, all of which resulted in a quite complete specification for catalog records, associated multimedia files and metadata. A Conference Call was held to review outstanding issues, and the resulting specifications were finalized and issued.

These specifications were shared with the Research Libraries Group and agreed to by them. They then became the basis for a Request-for-Proposal to a data processing firm to pre-process the AMICO data and validate its contents before it is sent to the distributor.

The Research Libraries Group also offered us the first draft of their Product Functional Specification and showed us the first products of their image derivation efforts. In both cases, next drafts will be circulated to AMICO members. Our comments are being taken into consideration and we expect to have RLG specifications to offer the AMICO members in February.

In negotiations with RLG, we also worked out a timetable and schedule for delivery of data in order to meet the University Testbed deadlines. This schedule was published and all AMICO institutions agreed to it at the January Board meeting. AS RLG is investigating a significant amount in software that relies upon the AMICO data contribution, contractual penalties are associated with our failure to meet these deadlines.

Data Validation and Enhancement
Discussions with the Getty Information Institute failed to arrive at a means to check all AMICO data against the Getty Vocabularies and update terminology in those vocabularies this year. As a result, we have moved this task off the testbed year plan. Discussions began to do this with the GII when they are ready in the future.

Discussions with Macmillan Ltd. to integrate the Grove Dictionary of Art and The AMICO Library moved forward with a proposal from Grove that was discussed by the Executive Committee and authorization from the Executive Committee to continue the discussions. A suggestion from the Mellon Foundation that we consider integration of JSTOR with The AMICO Library was brought to the executive Committee which authorized pursuing it in discussions with AMICO.

Data parsing requirements were included in the RFP for data processing services and are expected to be included in the final contract.

University Testbed
The Users and Uses Committee reviewed the proposals received in response to our Call for Participation in the University Testbed Project. The selection of participants in the project was simplified by the generally high quality of proposals received. A conference call was held to make a final assessment, and the recommendations of the committee were sent to the AMICO Board.

In a few cases, the proposals we received were both to conduct the kinds of research in which we expressed interest in our ˝Call for Participationţ and to conduct research with the aim of becoming an AMICO Distributor. Feeling these two objectives were different, Archives & Museum Informatics has drafted a separate Distributor Development Agreement to offer to potential distributors. It is anticipated that Developers Agreements will be offered to OhioLink, the California Digital Library, and the Joint Information Systems Commission of the Higher Education Authority of the UK.

The Board accepted the recommendations of the Users and Uses Committee and accepted proposals from approximately 20 universities, holding open the possibility of an offer to Harvard University to participate if it provided a few more details not in its initial proposal.

Letters of Offer have been sent. In mid-February, each participating university will also receive details of the contents of The AMICO Library, an outline of license terms, functional specifications for the RLG delivery of the Library, service agreement terms from RLG, and contracts outlining license and service subscription fees.

Legal Matters: Licenses, By-laws and Membership Agreements
The last of the three licenses required to operate AMICO in its initial year was reviewed by the Rights Committee in December and January - the License to AMICO. In addition, discussions with the Executive Committee and at the Board meeting clarified a number of issues surrounding the future incorporation of AMICO, its basic modes of operating, and the terms of a membership agreement. All these documents now need to be written in legal drafts and provided to members in the coming month for their signatures.

Archives & Museum Informatics was fortunate to be able to acquire the services of Michael Shapiro, Esq., who is leaving his position as General Counsel of the NEH on February 13, 1998, as Counsel to AMICO. Michael will draft these documents for us and provide other management and legal advice. Prior to joining NEH, Mr. Shapiro was Director of the George Washington University graduate program in Museum Administration and the director of both a State Museum agency and a private museum, and also practiced privately in the areas of international contract and intellectual property law. He will bring a broad range of experience and expertise to AMICO.

A contract will be offered for Michael Shapiro. Members are required to sign the relevant licenses and agreements as part of their agreement to membership in the 1997/98 year.

Fund Raising and Outreach
Archives & Museum Informatics continued its discussions with the Mellon Foundation in January regarding major funding for AMICO. (The preliminary proposal was circulated to the Board at its meeting.) We expect these will lead to another face to face meeting in February and a preliminary agreement on the prospects of support. In addition, we sent an ˝Intention to Submitţ to the Hitachi Foundation. We also monitored the TIAPP and IMLS grant opportunities which have been announced for this spring and began to line up appropriate players to participate in the collaborative efforts required under those grants. AMICO members will need to reply promptly to requests for information to be included in these funding proposals.

Funding AMICO was a major concern of the Executive Committee. A plan was developed to assure that the 1998 cash flow would not be negative. A Board Fundraising Committee and Board Membership Committee were organized and will begin their work in February.

In January we completed the construction of an AMICO Advisory Committee, submitted names to the Executive Committee of AMICO, and reached agreement on a list of persons to invite to advise AMICO. They are now being invited by Harry Parker, Chairman of the Board.

Near Future
AMICO Membership and Fund Raising Committees will begin activities in February.

The Board authorized the addition of twelve new AMICO members to contribute data in the next year, and ratified the concept of an associate membership, that enabled institutions to audit AMICO discussions and receive a license to the Library before they began contributing to the Library.

The User and Uses Committee and A&MI will be making presentations at CAA, VRA, ARLIS, CNI and other professional meetings in the near future. Their purpose is to begin to get users involved in working with AMICO and to clarify our goals and objectives. We will also be using upcoming professional conferences to begin a dialog with the University Testbed participants.

The Technical Operations Committee and all technical personnel in AMICO museums are under very tight deadlines to deliver their data to AMICO in the next few months.

The Rights Committee will move on to addressing draft legal documents (licenses, membership agreements) and to an initial strategy discussion of the methods to approach artists and their estates. Language will be drafted for the grant of rights to AMICO (educational uses) by artists and efforts will be advanced to find ways to collaborate in seeking rights from individuals whose works have been identified for the first year contributions.

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