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AMICO Executive Committee

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

Summary During August, Archives & Museum Informatics devoted 30 days to AMICO. The majority of this time was spent obtaining signed membership agreements and licenses from AMICO members and university testbed participants. Major initiatives which should have gotten under way in August, including background for the September Membership and Executive Committee meetings, were postponed.

AMICO Membership Agreements and AMICO Library Museum Agreements Through lengthy discussions, we were able to obtain signed membership agreements from all but one member in time for the release of the library on August 24. The discussions did produce some suggestions for clarification of the language of the AMICO Membership Agreement and The AMICO Library Museum Agreement, that will clarify their meaning in future drafts. Michael Shapiro, General Counsel, will now create one set of combined changes and make these available to all members for comment.

The length of time devoted to these negotiations served as proof positive that future agreements must be offered on an as is basis without any opportunity for negotiation. If AMICO is to survive and do useful things for its members it cannot invest in re-inventing these agreements each time they are offered; signing the agreements and licenses as they are offered (reflecting negotiation with all the founding members) must be a sine qua non of membership.

AMICO Library University Agreements Equally extensive discussions and negotiations with university testbed participants led to signing of agreements by many of the testbed participants, and to suggestions for revisions from some others. Others are still in process of reviewing the drafts. At this time it is difficult to say for certain but we may lose one to three universities in the process. These discussions revealed some important issues that must be addressed by AMICO. Changes will almost certainly need to be made in future licenses if we are to have widespread acceptance of the agreements, which is economically necessary to AMICO.

The major problem is that those responsible for signing the university agreements, unlike those who participated in the MESL discussion of principles and values, are much more concerned with manageability of the license. They are less willing to accept added burdens on the university as a trade-off for greater flexibility or more extensive rights under the license, because it falls to them to actually administer the terms of many licenses. The result is that they may prefer more standard terms (much like other licenses) rather than accept any obligations to monitor or report. This presents us with a philosophical dilemma which we may want to resolve by offering two licenses: a minimalist set of rights with no obligations to monitor and a more open agreement, a new social contract, that includes greater responsibilities on the part of the university.

In addition, we must be more specific about requirements for acknowledgment and notice. Again, the desire on the part of participating universities is to have a clear set of requirements that they can meet easily, and without ambiguity.

Funding Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), with whom we have applied to the IMLS for funding of a pilot project in K-12 distribution of The AMICO Library, has been asked for a modest revision of its budget - a signal that funding of this grant, to begin October 1, is quite likely. AMICO's portion of this grant is a modest $38,000 over two years. A revised budget will not affect the AMICO part of the budget.

AMICO 1998/99 Operations The Executive Committee approved naming Jennifer Trant Executive Director, David Bearman, Director for Strategy & Research, and the hiring of a Coordinator for Member and Client services in August. A job description for that position was drafted and a position description advertised.

Current operations continue under the budget adopted as an interim budget until the September 28 Executive Committee meeting.

Library Access The Research Libraries Group turned on full testbed facility on schedule on August 24. At this time, all AMICO members but two have access; one tape of data corrections remains to be loaded and numerous data corrections still must be made by AMICO members.

A&MI completed development of the public web site facility in August and prepared to turn it on, on schedule, September 1. Some AMICO members participated in load testing, and made suggestions for improvements to the interface design.

Membership The Frick Collection and Research Library and the Whitney Museum of American Art were admitted to membership in August. These are the first two new members since membership opened in July. A concerted effort at recruiting membership is required in order to meet targets set in the 1998/99 budgets.

A general new members information package was prepared and sent to the Whitney and the Frick.

David Bearman and Jennifer Trant Archives & Museum Informatics

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