David Bearman and Jennifer Trant
Archives & Museum Informatics
Summary of Activities
41 days to the establishment of AMICO in October. These were spent preparing
background briefing materials and recommendations for the Executive
Committee meeting on October 14, meeting with the Technical Operations
and Users & Uses Committees, briefing the Museum Computer Network and
the Coalition for Networked Information, negotiationing with the Research
Libraries Group and the Getty Information Institute, and launching the
university test-bed project with a call-for-participation. We also maintained
close communications with working members of AMICO, the President of
the Board and the AAMD Liaison for Information Technology.
of the end of October:
Committee has adopted a budget and organizational structure and the
organization has been officially announced.
are meeting and have scheduled milestones
Research Libraries Group has agreed to serve as a distributor of The AMICO Library for the testbed year (and beyond) and will present a
detailed proposal to us by mid-November
Getty Information Institute has agreed to enhance the AMICO data and
will present a detailed proposal to us by mid-November
university testbed project has been announced and preliminary inquiries
have been received from dozens of universities and educational systems
meeting has been scheduled with senior officers of the Mellon Foundation
on November 10 to discuss funding AMICO
have been opened with the Image Directory (Academic Press) and Corbis
Inc. about benefits that could be made available to AMICO members
which would like to use either of these entities for commercial licensing.
Discussions have been scheduled with MacMillan's Dictionary of Art.
of AMICO and our efforts to get it up and running rapidly, have highlighted
a number of strategic questions:
In the absence of time or funds for market research, we set a fee
structure for individual university licenses based on our sense
of what the market would accept (with concurrence of Harry Parker
& Max Anderson). Initial reaction from the university community
suggests that this fee was considered reasonable for single institutions
licensing the Library. However, we have been approached by groups
of institutions of one type (consortia of universities), groups
of more than one type (state-wide networks of libraries and museums),
regions, and whole countries (the UKÕs Joint Information Systems
Commission). Some of these scenarios involve both distribution agreements
and licenses; some may be bulk license purchases. Presently we are
not quoting any fees for these more complex arrangements, as we
are still developing strategy. We will propose a schedule in November
for Board approval.
During October, a potentially competitive organization, the Museum
Digital Licensing Collective (MDLC), was formed. MDLC hopes to receive
AAM backing and to conduct a 9-12 month planning exercise with museums
(quite similar to that which we conducted with AMICO) in order to
shape an organization that they emphasize would "license the digital
contents of ALL museums". They conducting an ambitious fundraising
effort to support their activities and are presenting themselves
inclusive than AMICO - ready to include art, cultural history,
and even science museums
beneficial to museums than AMICO, since they are promising to
pay members to digitize
beneficial to universities than AMICO, since they are promising
free licenses (for a while).
We believe our best response to the MDLC is to continue doing what
we are doing, to reinforce that AMICO membership is open to non-AAMD
members, and to try to raise funds to cover our own operational
expenses in the initial years. Over the longer term, in order to
respond to university requirements, the AMICO Board may need to
reconsider the policy of charging a separate license fee to universities
when their museums are members of AMICO and to find ways to enable
universities which license The AMICO Library to also contribute
We have announced availability of The AMICO Library through a University
Testbed Project, in 1998-99. The Testbed is structured around a
Research Agenda worked out by AMICO Members. The Call for Participation
asks interested universities to propose projects that would assist
in our enhancing The AMICO Library and services. To get the most
from the Testbed, it is essential that we deliver the best Library
we can to this first group of users and that we work with the selected
universities to learn how to improve our product. We should aim
to make sure that all substantial questions which the Board has
about AMICO project are being addressed in this research. To that
end, weÕll recommend that the Board allow time to discuss the goals
and objectives of the Testbed, as well as the selection of the participants,
at its first meeting.
New AMICO Members
Opening AMICO membership to museums (archives, libraries etc.) worldwide
raises a number of strategic issues. We must determine a viable
rate of growth, and establish an approach to acquiring content beyond
It is our view that AMICO can double in size next year (from 25
to 50 members). After that it will be able to grow by an absolute
maximum of 50 member museums a year. We may, therefore, need to
control growth if interest in joining runs high. How best to do
this is a matter for board discussion.
Our response to institutions outside North American wanting to join
AMICO needs to be carefully thought through. We know that interest
is high and can expect some applicants soon. Before we accept them,
we need to determine how foreign content should be incorporated
into The AMICO Library. Options include bringing in individual foreign
members, and negotiating on a national basis with AMICO-like entities
for international trades. The relationships between these models,
and possible national licensing options needs to be explored carefully.
While the prospects for AMICO self-sufficiency after five years
are improving as a result of our success with the distributors and
potential licensees, the need to have sufficient capital in the
next few years to implement AMICO successfully increases as our
visibility and expectations rise. We need to structure a proposal
to a major foundation to carry the costs of the first phase, so
we can get on with actually doing the work. A meeting has been scheduled
with the Mellon Foundation, at which we will present a proposal
for multi-year, multi-million dollar funding to support AMICO start-up.
We are also developing a fund-raising strategy that will link funding
needs with grant options on a sector by sector basis.
Data Assembly by AMICO
Current plans do not detail a strategy for the collation of data
contributed by the individual museums into a single coherent format
for transmission to the enhancers and distributors. We need both
to reserve the budgeted $46,000 for this purpose and move relatively
quickly to contract out this work.
We believe that AMICO's standing in the community, and thus our
effectiveness in achieving our goals, would be enhanced significantly
by joining several cultural heritage networking organizations. 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 (CIMI).
Creating a high level advisory board to advise the Executive Committee
would provide us with links into the communities we wish to serve.
The Advisory Committee we recommend would have approximately 8 members
representing the following sectors: Higher Education, K-12 education,
Academic Libraries, Public Libraries, Networking, The Arts, Intellectual
Property Law, and Foundations. We will be drafting a list of possible
nominees for Board consideration, and welcome any input from the
Over the next month (November), we will be:
with the Technical Operations Committee to define AMICO technical
specifications for contribution to the Library.
with the Users and Uses Committee to finalize evaluation criteria
for the responses to the University Testbed Call and to refine the
with Ian Jacobs, the Managing Director of MacMillan Reference Ltd,
regarding possible collaboration with their Dictionary of Art project.
with OCLC regarding distribution beyond the testbed year.
with RLG and the GII regarding their proposals for testbed year data
distribution and enhancement.
collaboration with OCLC Research and Development Office regarding
Dublin Core metadata and the AMICO catalog.
a coordinated fundraising strategy and timetable.
a preliminary proposal and meeting with the Mellon Foundation regarding
funding the start-up of AMICO.
to the AMICO Executive Committee
David Bearman and Jennifer Trant
Archives & Museum Informatics
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.
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.
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.
members have now provided the background documentation they have been
requested to provide for such grant packages.
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:
The AMICO Library during the testbed year with as much functionality
The AMICO Library to higher education in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 with
the functionality required by our distributor specifications
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.
present the draft agreement to the executive committee early in December
and hope to have a contract drawn up for signature early in January.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Data Enhancement/Co-Publishing/Income Generation:
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:
sizable up front payment to AMICO
to the Grove on-line for all AMICO members
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bearman and Jennifer Trant, Archives & Museum Informatics
Archives & Museum Informatics devoted 12 days to AMICO business in
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.
External to AMICO:
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.
We asked 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.
We began preparation for the AMICO Executive Committee and Board meetings
in January. Agendas were drafted and circulated.
We held 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.
We held 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
University Testbed Proposals:
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.
RLG as Distributor:
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.
We have 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.
We have 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
We have 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.
- The first of these involve establishing the legal
basis for AMICO and its activities. Specifically, we need to have
- a membership agreement
- AMICO by-laws
- a License to AMICO
- a License from AMICO to Universities
- a License from AMICO to Museums
- AMICO 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
- We 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
We believe 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 AMICO Membership:
- negotiations 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.
- negotiations 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.
Previously Reported Issues:
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
As reported 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.
We continue 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 (CIMI).
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:
- obtaining pro-bono legal help to draft the agreements required to
establish AMICO properly
- abandoning most data enhancement in the absence of assistance from
AMICO 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
In the 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.
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