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AMICO Users & Uses Committee

University Testbed Project

Contents Introduction

Twenty-three of the largest art museums in North America (see appended list) have formed the Art Museum Image Consortium ( a non-profit organization whose membership is open to institutions with collections of art. The mission of AMICO is to make a Library of digital documentation of art available under educational license. AMICO is assembling a rich intellectual resource not previously available to the university community. The Library will include textual information, in both fielded and free-text form and digital images. Some works will also be accompanied by additional images, audio clips, and moving images. The AMICO Library will grow over time to represent the full range of materials in the collections of member institutions.

Both information providers and users in this sector acknowledge that new economic and social models are required in order to support the desired uses of digital information in learning, teaching and research. Particularly where images and multimedia data are involved, mechanisms for processing requests for rights and reproductions are inefficient and cumbersome. In consultation with the academic community, AMICO has developed a license for the use of its digital Library that supports traditional academic uses and expands the potential for uses that take advantage of new technology. This license addresses concerns voiced by academic users to enable "electronic reserves", remote access, faculty assemblage of specific materials for student review, and the incorporation of licensed materials into student projects, portfolios and theses. AMICO will administer this license on behalf of its members.

The Test-bed Project - 1998-99 Academic Year

Prior to a announcing the full availability of its digital library, AMICO is launching a one year test-bed project. We wish both to validate the proposed framework for the collective licensing of museum digital collections and to evaluate a means of delivering this content to the higher educational community. Selected universities will administer AMICO-designed user studies, including gathering information using specified data collection instruments and participating in focus groups. It is hoped the university test-bed project will increase understanding of the ways universities are adopting digital teaching and reference tools and enable the AMICO member museums to offer a Library that better meets the needs of its users.

The members of AMICO invite universities to apply for participation in this test-bed project. AMICO will use existing distribution channels to deliver access to the Library during the test-bed phase and beyond. Discussions are currently underway with the Research Libraries Group to provide distribution support during the test-bed. During the academic 1998/99, selected universities will have the opportunity to use the contents of The AMICO Library for educational purposes and assist AMICO and its distributor in assessing the best ways of distributing and providing access to the Library for academic use.

The test-bed Library will consist of documentation of over 20,000 works of art. These are largely two-dimensional Western art, but also include over one thousand Asian drawings and paintings, one thousand ancient & medieval works, one thousand decorative objects and sculptures, one thousand 19th and 500 20th century photographs and over one thousand modern and contemporary works. This Library will be made available to university test-bed participants at a license fee of $2,500-$5,000 based on size of the university during the test-bed year. It is anticipated that a roughly equivalent subscription (access) fee will be charged by RLG. In recognition of their contribution to the development of the AMICO distribution system, test-bed universities will receive a 25% reduction in license fees for the academic years 1999/2000 through 2006/2007. Hence, test-bed participants will receive the equivalent of two years of free licenses.

AMICO member museums are committed to increasing the size of the Library by 10-20,000 works per year during this time. AMICO looks forward to continued liaison with university academic users, and recognizes that ongoing collaboration is essential to the creation of a rich research resource of lasting educational utility.

Project Goals

  • Evaluate which content characteristics of The AMICO Library and Services are of most value to the university community. What represents quality, and to whom, in this digital resource?
  • Test mechanisms for delivery and integration of The AMICO Library into campus digital resources. Assess access tools, interchange formats and metadata to facilitate its use.
  • Design strategies to increase the impact of The AMICO Library. How can AMICO and its members benefit from on-going dialog with users?

Project Framework

Approximately twenty universities will be selected to participate in the test-bed year based on their interest in and ability to contribute to research which addresses the objectives of the project. Full methodologies and operational details of the research to be undertaken will be worked out in consultation with the participating universities, the AMICO member museums and the AMICO distributor. A series of planning meetings will be held between February and May of 1998, at which evaluation programs will be designed, and plans for their implementation agreed.

Universities applying to participate in the test-bed studies are asked to directly address which of the educational evaluation, information delivery, content analysis, and/or socio-economic questions posed below their involvement would help to answer, and to identify teams best able to assist in studying those topics. Research Objectives Identify who uses The AMICO Library and why

  • What is current practice in image based research and teaching? Who uses images now?
  • What is anticipated to be better enabled or less well enabled with The AMICO Library?
  • What uses are required? What additional uses are desired? Can degrees of relative benefits from different kinds of uses be determined?
  • Over the course of the project, who used The AMICO Library for what kinds of purposes?

Determine how The AMICO Library is accessed and used

  • How is the resource discovered? What are the minimum metadata?
  • What kind of overview is needed of the entire resource? What kinds of access are required?
  • Is this access provided in the AMICO data structure as proposed/delivered? Are retrieval requirements met? What additional data enhancement is required to ensure accessibility?
  • Is the content of The AMICO Library sufficiently consistent to enable use?
  • What kinds of additional links and references would be valuable?

Increase understanding of user needs for teaching and research use of The AMICO Library and the systems architectures needed to support them

  • How are items in the Library being retrieved, collated, analyzed and re-presented?
  • Does the delivery architecture enable the required uses? If not, why?
  • What changes are required to enable desired uses? What tools are needed and by whom?
  • What strategies could encourage or increase the use of The AMICO Library?
  • What are the concrete requirements for images in different applications?
How can The AMICO Library best be delivered?
  • Is licensed access more cost effective and valuable than local content acquisition?
  • Is the use of an existing distributor the most appropriate way to reach academic users?
  • What are acceptable pricing structures? What are appropriate license periods?
  • What is the best way to integrate The AMICO Library with existing campus resources?
  • Are there reasons to store data locally? How could the distribution mechanism facilitate this?
  • How was sound and motion image content used? Are its distribution requirements different?
Who decides to acquire such a resource and what information do they need?
  • How can these people be reached to make them aware of The AMICO Library?
  • How are decisions made to acquire digital resources? How are potential acquisitions assessed? How can AMICO support the decision-making process?
  • Where does the value in The AMICO Library reside? How can it be enhanced?
  • What do decision makers in The AMICO Library's acquisition value most highly?
  • What are appropriate/acceptable pricing structures or strategies?
  • Are there appropriate ways of 'chunking' the Library to make it more attractive to users?
Establish if the license terms proposed by the AMICO Consortium are acceptable
  • Can the terms of the license be administered within the university context?
  • Are the desired uses enabled by the license?
  • Are there required changes? What are the priorities for these?
  • What additional licenses would the university community like to see offered? for alumni? families? etc.?
  • Were the public web site thumbnails and tombstone data used to support the curriculum development process (enabling faculty to plan to use the Library prior to licensing)?
  • Is the public web site seen as a barrier to future licensing?
Design means for user feedback and dialogue with AMICO members
  • How can AMICO best discover, on a on-going basis, what the user community needs?
  • How can we encourage scholarly information flow from users to AMICO member museums?
  • What kinds of mechanisms can we put in place to enable collaboration between academic users and museum staff in areas of mutual interest?
  • What role should the distributor play in mediating between AMICO and the users of The AMICO Library?
  • What role might users play in an AMICO General Meeting?
  • What kinds of support is essential, or desirable from an AMICO distributor?
Understand user priorities for content development, and design AMICO strategies to meet these needs
  • Is The AMICO Library as useful research resource?
  • What are the best strategies for reaching 'critical mass'?
  • What are user priorities for library development?
  • How is depth of documentation valued in comparison with breadth of coverage?
  • Should AMICO be focused on developing a broader membership base, or in encouraging greater coverage of the collections of its existing members?
  • What multi-media data content is desirable and useful?
  • Is intensive content development in particular subject or disciplines needed to enable required uses?
  • How high a priority is the content of museum collections from outside North America?

Format of Proposals

Proposals should contain the following information:

  • Institutional Profile
  • Project Participants (include a brief biography, and contact details for each member research project coordinator and technical or library contact responsible for providing access to the Library).
  • Project Contribution

Explain how your proposed project team will contribute to answering the questions outlined above and how involvement in the test-bed is congruent with your local needs and interests.

Referencing the stated Goals and Objectives of the project, outline the expertise of participants, describe previous, existing and approved projects that are relevant and/or complementary, document methodologies or tools you could bring to the project, and state your institutional priorities with respect to the various research issues.

Proposals to take lead roles in coordination of parts of the research project are welcome, especially where they fit into existing funded research.

Existing and proposed relationships with AMICO member museums will be respected.

A maximum of 20 pages should be submitted. These should be sent as an .RTF file, attached to an email sent to Jennifer Trant (


  • Expressions of interest in participating in the AMICO University Test-bed project are requested by November 15, 1997. This should be e-mailed to
  • Full proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. EST, December 15, 1997.
  • Test-bed participants will be announced by January 31, 1998.

AMICO Founding Members

  1. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
  2. Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario
  3. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
  4. Asia Society Gallery, New York, NY
  5. Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ
  6. Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  7. Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA
  8. Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
  9. George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
  10. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA
  11. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA
  12. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
  13. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN
  14. Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, CA
  15. Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montréal, Québec
  16. Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, Montréal, Québec
  17. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
  18. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
  19. National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
  20. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
  21. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA
  22. San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA
  23. Walker Art Center, Minneapolis MN

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