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AMICO Executive Committee

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

During July, Archives & Museum Informatics devoted 38 days to AMICO. For the first half of the month, this effort was largely devoted to organizing an NSF/DLI 2 grant application, which defined a series of research and development activities where AMICO needs to participate in the coming years (whether or not funding is received from NSF). The second half of the month was largely devoted to final data corrections for the 1998 Library, negotiations regarding AMICO Agreements, and planning for the coming year - meeting with RLG about delivery schedules and methods, initiating processes for artists rights, working on staffing and budgets with the Executive Committee.

Early in July, we spoke about AMICO and its information architecture strategies at the UK Office of Library Networking meeting in Bath. We agreed to write an article on AMICO for the New Review of Information Networking (an annual) due in September.


National Science Foundation Digital Libraries 2 Proposal
On July 15, AMICO submitted a grant proposal for $2.5M to the National Science Foundation Digital Libraries Initiative round 2 competition. To prepare this inter-disciplinary, multi-institutional project proposal, we coordinated the submissions of all project team members:

  • four AMICO members - Art Institute of Chicago, Fine Art Museum of San Francisco, Frick Collection, and Walker Art Center
  • four universities - Carnegie Mellon University, Hampshire College, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Illinois
  • two distributors - the Research Libraries Group and the Art Museum Network
  • and two for profit entities: Macmillan's Reference Publishing (Grove Dictionaries Inc.) and I4I (a Canadian software house that has donated SGML tools and consulting).

    We also assembled a full day meeting of participants in the project (the meeting was funded by the Delmas Foundation). The Narrative portion of the Proposal (which was limited to 15 pages) is available on the AMICO Members Web site at The detailed bibliography can be found at

    A&MI also coordinated and wrote about 120 pages of associated budget, personnel, facilities and other forms that made up the total package. If awarded, funding would most likely begin in December 1998.

    AMICO 1998/99 Operations:

    A&MI proposed a budget and staffing plan to the Executive Committee in order to have a framework for our 1998/99 activities.; AMICO will operate under this preliminary budget until we have news about pending funding applications and the Executive Committee has a discussion about longer term issues at a planned September meeting.

    A proposal to bring on permanent staff for AMICO was also presented. AMICO needs to have permanent staff, both because the outside world needs to know whom it can communicate with about AMICO and because our programs are now large enough to require it. A&MI proposed a 1998/99 staffing plan to the Executive Committee in which AMICO would name an Executive Director, Director of Strategy and Research, Technical Director, and Member/Client Services Coordinator. Jennifer Trant will become AMICO Executive Director, and David Bearman will become Director, Strategy and Research. We will immediately recruit a Coordinator of Member and Client Services and a Technical Director. Jennifer has agreed to serve in the role of Executive Director at the interim budgeted salary because we have concluded that the job must be filled on a full-time basis, but that funding does not currently allow for a salary that would otherwise attract the right person; we will re-evaluate this when AMICO's budget situation changes. Bearman will continue to work on a consulting basis, with a formal title.

    A&MI staff met with the Research Libraries Group to define upcoming schedules and technical methods.

    AMICO Library Distribution

    Research Libraries Group
    Trant, Bearman and Dietrich met with staff at the Research Libraries Group in San Francisco. We reviewed the Testbed Preview site, and suggested many changes and improvements, many of which were promptly acted upon. Procedures for data submission, update and tracking were discussed, and a proposal will be put to the AMICO members for the 1998/99 Library. A web-based facility will be developed to enable members to track the status of their records throughout the process of validation and mounting at a distributor.

    RLG's University Testbed
    The Research Libraries Group (RLG) turned on the testbed preview facility on schedule on July 6. About half of AMICO members and university testbed participants have received returned all the required agreements and are using the testbed.

    Further functionality will be developed during the next month - the actual software for the testbed year will be turned on August 24. RLG has developed a Comments function, that facilitates user feedback. These comments are sent both to AMICO and to RLG for response. Where appropriate, they will be routed to the HyperNews Discussions for Member input and feedback.

    California Digital Library
    A meeting with the California Digital Libraries project at the University of California confirmed their interest in signing a Distributor's Development Agreement with AMICO. They will be collaborating with the San Diego Super Computer Center to develop the facility to deliver The AMICO Library within the University of California system, and perhaps throughout the State of California.

    Discussions resumed with OhioLINK about their distribution of the Library, following the issuance of their white paper on licensed resources. We also expect them to sign a Distributor's Development Agreement in the Fall of 1998.

    AMICO Membership and Library Agreements

    Over half of AMICO members had signed the membership agreements and licenses by the end of July. Others are still reviewing the documents but expect to sign them in August. A&MI has been involved in discussions with several museum counsels over interpretation of the agreement and has discovered a few details that will be corrected or clarified in future agreements, but to date no substantive changes have been made. Once all agreements are in place, new members can be admitted and access to the 1998/99 Library can be granted. We will use the revisions suggested by members as the basis for an improved (or corrected) agreement that will become the text that all members will sign, so that we don't need to manage a lot of specially annotated documents. Members can expect a distribution of minor amendments to the Agreements in August.

    Over half the University Testbed participants have signed agreements and most others have submitted letters of intent to sign. A&MI has had discussions with counsels for the universities and generally resolved issues of apparent dispute through clarifying our intentions. Again, a few minor changes that have been suggested will be made in future agreements; no substantive changes have been approved. One sticking point seems to be with Washington University s general counsel (who thinks requiring the university to act against violations is too burdensome), but all others are expected in without trouble.

    The web site overhaul continued, with improvements in the clarity of presentation and the depth of data. Many thanks to Nancy Broden.

    A&MI submitted the first deliverable under its contract with AMN to develop the AMICO public web site. The development of the searchable database will be completed in August.

    Major future issues:

    As soon as all founding members have signed their membership agreements, we need to recruit the "class of 98/99". Full prospective members need to begin to prepare data for submission in this calendar year; prospective associate members need to ride along in the technical and rights discussions and to begin to make use of the library.

    We really need to get members, especially staff in education departments, to use The AMICO Library and to critique it. Getting a product we are all proud of out in 1999 will require tremendous work on everyone's part, but only by using the Library this fall will we know what we should be aiming for.

    Forward Schedules
    We have been working to set up forward schedules for AMICO activities in 1998/99 and hope to post these to the web site shortly. coming meetings include an AMICO members meeting prior tot he MCN meeting in Los Angeles (Sept. 21-22) and an AMICO Board Meeting, prior to the AAMD meeting in La Jolla (tentatively January 26,1999).

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