Addressing Multiple Audiences with Multiple Interfaces
to The AMICO Library
S. Sayre, and K. Wetterlund, The Art Museum Image Consortium,
The Art Museum Image Consortium "AMICO"
a group of over three-dozen Member Museums, which have committed to digitize
their collections and contribute them to an integrated library on an on-going
basis. The AMICO Library has been available to educational institutions--
including colleges and universities, elementary and secondary schools,
public libraries and museums-- for almost five years and grows significantly
each year. The 2003 edition of The AMICO Library will contain over
120,000 works of art. After three years of distribution through a single
source (RLG, Inc.), AMICO began contracting with other Distributors, each
specializing in a different audience, to reach and meet the diverse needs
of multiple user communities. Today, each of these six Distributors delivers
The AMICO Library through their own unique interfaces, often along
with other digital resources. This range of Distributors now allows subscribing
institutions to choose among the different services and interfaces that
are compatible with their institutional requirements and best meet the
needs of their end users.
The variety of Distributors of The AMICO Library
also allows AMICO Member Museums to access and view their digital documentation
through a variety of tools and interfaces developed outside of their own
direct influence or control. Each Distributor and interface has a significant
effect on how the work is used, explored and perceived. This paper explores
the multiple interface approach to distributing content as well as the
differences in features and functions of multiple distributors. Issues
addressed include audience specific functionality, inter-application consistency
and the need for additional research.
Keywords: Multiple Interfaces, Multiple Audiences,
Features and Functions, Multiple Distributors, Art Museum Images
Cultural heritage resources such as museum collections
serve a number of educational functions for a wide range of diverse audiences.
Museums have historically addressed the needs of these varied audiences
through the development of discrete print and/or electronic products,
educational programs designed to serve a particular audience and purpose,
and reflecting only part of the data known to the institution. The emergence
of data driven, online cultural resources now offers museums the opportunity
to develop new models to disseminate a unified, continuously augmented
resource through a number of different interfaces designed to provide
views and tools suited to a range of audiences.
The Art Museum Image Consortium (AMICO) is a non-profit
corporation formed by North American art museums in 1997 to provide educational
access to and delivery of cultural heritage information by creating, maintaining
and licensing a collective digital library of images and documentation
of works in their collections. The 39 current Member Museums annually
contribute digital images, text, multimedia and related metadata to one
centralized library. All contributions are governed by the AMICO Data
Specifications and descriptive standards based on the Categories for
Descriptions of Works of Art (ed., Baca and Harpring, 2000). Member
contributions are collected, validated, and enhanced through indexing
by AMICO staff before the resulting Library is released to AMICO Distributors
and through them, to the end users.
Beyond the technical aspects of building the digital library,
one of AMICO's primary functions is facilitating, maintaining and enforcing
the licensing of the intellectual property of The AMICO Library
(Bearman & Trant 1997). AMICO licenses the contributed assets from
each Member Museum and in turn licenses The AMICO Library to each
of the Distributors. Separate, standardized license agreements are also
contracted between AMICO and each subscriber to The AMICO Library.
These subscriber licenses specify the terms of The AMICO Library's
use according to the agreements AMICO has with its Member Museums. The
protection provided by these licenses and the controlled distribution
of The AMICO Library has allowed AMICO to negotiate blanket rights
agreements for works of artists under copyright and managed by the Artist
Right Society "ARS" and the Visual Arts Galleries Association "VAGA."
These agreements in turn allow AMICO subscribers access to digital images
of works of art that are not typically available to the public.
The AMICO Library currently consists of museum created
digital documentation of over 100,000 works of art from around the world.
Works range from prehistoric to contemporary times, and cover the complete
range of expressive forms. Cultures and time periods represented range
from contemporary art, Native American, and Inuit art to ancient Greek,
Roman, and Egyptian works, as well as Japanese and Chinese works.
The types of works in The AMICO Library include:
- over 13,000 paintings
- over 5,900 sculptures
- over 13,700 drawings and watercolors
- over 23,800 prints
- over 29,000 photographs
- over 1,800 textiles
- over 1,600 costumes and jewelry
- over 9,800 works of decorative art
- over 1,200 books and manuscripts
A complete breakdown of the current library can be found at (http://www.amico.org/AMICOlibrary/contents.html).
Digital documentation for each represented work varies
based on the type of object, existing documentation and what each Member
Museum has selected to contribute. AMICO's Data Specification requires
that all contributed works contain at least one representative image and
a set of 30 core fields of basic information including object title, measurements,
materials and techniques, creator culture/nationality, creation date,
owner name, accession number, and owner credit line. Other core fields
include metadata such as Library contribution date to assist in maintaining
The AMICO Library over time. Most records contain an extended set
of information above and beyond the core fields including text descriptions,
provenance, exhibition history, and subject classifications. Additional
rich media includes streaming audio and video files, links to related
web content and multiple views.
The AMICO Library grows in size, depth and scope
annually. Contributing Member Museums actively update and expand existing
records as well as contribute additional records. AMICO Members understand
that subscribers need access to the most extensive documentation possible,
and work to meet those needs on an ongoing basis.
AMICO's mission is to enable the educational use of museum
multimedia. This mission is centered on the effective delivery of The
AMICO Library to four communities of subscribers: universities,
K-12 (elementary and secondary) schools, public libraries and museums.
AMICO currently serves over 3.5 million of these users worldwide. Each
of these subscribers has selected to work with one or more of AMICO's
five Distributors. This overview will be limited to the university and
K-12 school audiences, since they are the primary focus of AMICO and its
Universities currently make up the majority of AMICO subscribers
with over 250 subscribing institutions. Worldwide AMICO currently has
subscribers in Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Lebanon, the Netherlands,
the United Kingdom and the United States. These subscribing universities
serve about 2 million students.
K-12 schools have been publicly invited to subscribe to
the AMIO Library since the fall of 2002. Since then, AMICO has acquired
over seventy K-12 subscribers in North America. These subscribing schools
currently serve almost 30,000 students annually. A number of the K-12
subscribers participate in AMICO through their membership in one or more
consortia, such as New York's NyLink.
Early in AMICO's formation it was determined that it was
not effective for the organization to directly distribute The AMICO Library
to end users, considering the infrastructure and staffing required to
support such an effort. As a result, a Model Distribution Agreement was
developed as a strategy for establishing formal working agreements with
experienced distributors of digital resources to deliver The AMICO Library
to subscribers (Bearman, Trant, 2002). This model gave AMICO the unique
advantage of greatly reducing the consortium's requirement to provide
delivery and support. More importantly, this model has allowed The AMICO
Library to be delivered through a range of Distributors and interfaces,
which provides a kind of laboratory for studies of user requirements and
the effectiveness of software features.
Today, The AMICO Library is delivered worldwide
through six major Distributors. Each of the Distributors is unique in
its content offerings, interfaces and subscriber base. The following,
in alphabetical order, is a summary of the current Distributors
The publisher of The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
offers The AMICO Library through both the Luna Insight browser
and java client interfaces. Cartography Associates provides access to
the Rumsey and Japanese historical map collections as well as to The AMICO
Library. Cartography Associates began distributing The AMICO Library
Fig. 1: Sample Cartography Associates advanced
Fig. 2: Sample Cartography Associates returns
The publisher of Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature
and many other popular journals, H.W. Wilson offers The AMICO Library
as part of its WilsonWeb service that features a variety of resources
of particular interest to schools and public libraries. Subscribers to
The AMICO Library and other WilsonWeb databases are able to search
simultaneously across these resources. H.W. Wilson began distributing
The AMICO Library in 2000 and released a new version of its Wilson
Web interface in early 2003.
Fig. 3: Sample H.W. Wilson advanced search
Fig. 4: Sample H.W. Wilson returns page
The AMICO Library is accessible to students in the
State of Ohio through the OhioLINK Consortium. Subscribers in Ohio will
see The AMICO Library integrated into the OhioLINK Digital Media Center
Art and Architecture Database. OhioLINK began distributing The AMICO Library
Fig. 5: Sample OhioLINK advanced search
Fig. 6: Sample OhioLINK returns page
RLG, Inc. (Research Libraries Group), a nonprofit research
collections corporation, provides access to The AMICO Library through
the RLG Eureka® interface also used to deliver many other art-related
resources. RLG, Inc. began distributing The AMICO Library in 1999
and will be releasing a new version of its interface in early 2003.
Fig. 7: Sample RLG advanced search
Fig. 8: Sample RLG returns page
The University of Michigan distributes The AMICO Library
as a component the U of M Networked Electronic Resources. These resources
include over 80 other cross-searchable digital libraries and references
and are distributed to its Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses. Distribution
of The AMICO Library and the other U of M Networked Electronic Resources
is limited to Members of the University of Michigan System. The University
of Michigan began distributing The AMICO Library in 2000.
Fig. 9: Sample University of Michigan advanced
Fig. 10: Sample University of Michigan returns
VTLS offers subscription access to The AMICO Library through a specially
configured Chameleon iPortal web interface. The interface is integrated
with the VTLS Hi-Res Image Navigator to provide the user with the ability
to access detailed imagery in a variety of magnification sizes that they
specify. Institutional subscribers using Z39.50 compliant integrated library
systems will have the additional capability to configure access to The
AMICO Library among their broadcast or aggregate search options.
VTLS began distributing The AMICO Library in 2001.
Fig. 11: Sample VTLS advanced search
Fig. 12: Sample VTLS returns page
The AMICO Library is identical when received by
each Distributor, but because each Distributor of The AMICO Library
provides its own unique views and tools for working with the contents
of The AMICO Library, it supports different functions and has a
different ‘feel'. Each Distributor is required to adhere to minimal
display and indexing requirements as specified in the AMICO Distributor
Specification. This specification also requires that all Distributors
support searches of The AMICO Library by any of the following fields
and combinations of a minimum of two of them:
- Creation-Date (CDT) and/or OCS/OCE
- Materials and Techniques
- Owner Name
In addition, AMICO requires all Distributors to provide
access to a full-screen (1024 x 768) image, and options for accessing,
multiple views, associated multimedia, linked structured text files, and
audio and motion video files. Beyond these basic requirements, the specific
views supported by each Distributor's interface differ based on Distributor-specific
editorial and design decisions. These defined views then dictate the ways
in which the underlying data is indexed as well as the scope of the surrounding
features and functions.
The features and functions of each distribution of The
AMICO Library dictates the ways in which subscribers can retrieve
and utilize AMICO's contents. A number of user studies (Stebly 1998, Corbetta-Noyes
1998, Gay, Rieger 1999, Sho, Sengupta 2000) examine the features and functions
desired by faculty and students when moving from traditional slides to
digital media. Sho and Sengupta (2000) define the primary tasks involved
in such activities as "search, select, record and use". While these tasks
can be consistently performed in a traditional slide library, the tools
available in a digital library environment significantly impact a users
ability to perform these tasks. Simple procedures such as "browsing" and
"setting images aside" are shown to be common requests (Stebly 1998, Sho,
Sengupta 2000) but are not yet standard features and functions offered
by every Distributor. Penn State's forthcoming Visual Image User Study
(Pisciotta et al. 2001) promises to be the most comprehensive study to
date and may define such standards in the higher education environment.
The following matrix provides a simplified outline of
the key features and functions of each Distributor of The AMICO Library.
The information contained within this matrix is not meant to be comprehensive
and represents the findings of a first pass inventory by the authors in
order to identify similarities and differences between Distributors for
further research and to assist in the development of future specifications.
Fig. 13: Current AMICO Distributors' Features
The following defines the way in which the features and functions within
the matrix were defined in the inventory.
Simple search - a query screen containing one
single input box in which users can input a query term or string. Similar
to a Google search, simple search screens give the impression of
querying keywords or all fields, however it is never clear to the user
exactly what is being queried and the results are dependent on the indexing
strategies of each Distributor. Most Distributor's advanced searches also
provide for some type of simple searching through such functions as search
"All," "Keywords" or "Any Field".
Browse - a top-level screen that facilitates
paging through the entire database or according to a field occurrence
list such as "Nationality." All Distributors offer some browsing functionality
after performing a query that returns multiple results. Most Distributors
also provided browse as a top-level function or finding aid.
Thesaurus - a query interface that is built
around a thesaurus or lexicon of terms that can be used for term expansion
Advanced search - a search screen with two or
more fields for composing queries and tools that allow for the selection
of specific fields or concepts to be queried (i.e. creator/nationality).
- Unlimited Boolean - the ability for the user to perform a complex
Boolean query with an unlimited number of terms within a single field
or multiple fields. Some Distributors provide a limited number of fields
within the advanced search page, but allow for complex Boolean within
them. Others do not permit Boolean operators within the field but provide
interface tools for adding additional query components.
- Keyword - a query option within the advanced search screen that allows
the user to search an index of key terms defined by the Distributor.
- Any field - a query option within the advanced search screen that
similar to a keyword search allows the user to search across a number
of fields simultaneously.
- Authority lists - pull-down menu or pick-list of available controlled
sets of terms for a field (e.g. artist name, creator culture).
- Cat. Fields to query - number of fields that can be selected and directly
queried in an advanced search.
- Cat. Fields displayed - the maximum number of unique fields of data
displayed for one record. The screen on which the maximum number fields
are displayed differ from one Distributor to the next. In some cases
it may be a "full record" view and in others the number of displayed
fields can be controlled globally for all screens. Numbers are approximates
based on items displayed rather than fields in the underlying database.
- Sort results - the ability to select the order in which search results
are displayed (i.e. by relevance, date, etc.)
Graphic tools - interface components that
allow for manipulation of an image beyond basic viewing. While all Distributors
provide functions for viewing different size images, some provide tools
for functions such as zooming and panning.
Search history - a dynamically created log of
all queries performed within a user session. Distributors offer different
advanced functions for combining, saving and re-running past queries.
Query links - hyperlinks within search results
that perform a query for the linked term when clicked (e.g. clicking Ojibwa
in the creator culture field returns all Ojibwa created works).
Export text files - functions that allow the
user to export records or search returns as formatted text files, HTML,
spreadsheets or other text format. While most users can save pages as
HTML or text through their browser's interface, some Distributors have
included special tools for performing these functions.
Order TIFF files - the ability for end users
to order high-resolution TIFF files of images in The AMICO Library.
Integrated resources - one or more other electronic
resources that can be queried simultaneously to The AMICO Library.
Interoperability with these resources can impact the overall available
Personal Grouping - a function allowing users
to create and save custom sets of objects and related information. Some
Distributors also refer to these functions as notebooks or groups.
- Local - the ability to store a group on a local drive
- Networked - the ability store a group on the Distributors server
so it can be accessed via any authenticated user.
- Sharable - the ability to "publish" a group so it is accessible and
viewable by other subscribers.
In some cases the range of other digital resources offered
by the Distributors limits the available tools and views. The decision
to provide interoperability between distributed resources may constrain
options. Past experience in delivering those resources will inform the
overall features and functions made available through a Distributor's
interface. This is particularly relevant when it comes to the distribution
of digital images and multimedia. Historically, most of the Distributors
had focused on the delivery of text-based resources. Because of this,
toolsets tend to be more refined to support interoperability between text-based
resources than to support advanced functions related to the viewing and
manipulation of other forms of rich media. Systems for delivery of digital
images are often underdeveloped compared with those for delivering electronic
text (Pisciotta et al. 2001). As more and more digital resources begin
to incorporate rich media, Distributors will inevitably adjust their interfaces,
features and functionality to fully address the potential applications
of these new resources.
Features common across most of the Distributors are the
concepts of a single field "simple" search and a multiple field or Boolean
"advanced" search. Colleen Skidmore and Sandra Dowie, (1999), suggest
that simple query tools are best for novice computer users who may be
overwhelmed by the complexities and myriad of options available with an
advanced search. The University Testbed user survey (Gay & Rieger,
1999) found the "simple search" to be considered more useful than the
advance search function.
Implementation of these tools and the indexing beneath
them varies significantly between Distributors. While most "simple" searches
are typically referred to as keyword searches, each Distributor has made
independent decisions about which fields are contributing values to the
"keyword" or generic string search index. Some Distributors define a simple
search as "search all" while others refer to these as "keyword" searches.
In both cases, the Distributors have selected and indexed a set of fields
to correspond with available data and in the ways in which they believe
end users will glean the most benefit. The concept of an "advanced" search
also varies significantly between Distributors. One Distributor provides
field specific querying for 32 fields of data plus "all" while another's
"Search by Keyword" provides access to five fields (creation date, object
type, title, subject, anywhere), two of which (anywhere and subject) are
compound fields built by strategically indexing other underlying fields.
All of these interfaces have advantages and disadvantages, from being
too limited and mysterious to overwhelmingly complex. The availability
and resulting functionality of these basic features impacts usability
for different audiences and different applications as well as their satisfaction
with the number of items their queries return.
In a study of the Museum Educational Site Licensing project
(a collaboration of seven collecting institutions and seven universities)
defining the terms and conditions for the educational use of digitized
museum images and related information that was completed in 1977, Besser
(1998) performed five queries against each distribution of the project.
He found that these searches returned significantly different results.
Figures 15 and 16 illustrate the consistency of results when the same
set of queries is performed via the simple and advanced search interfaces
of each of the six AMICO Distributors.
Fig. 14: Results of Performing
a Simple Search
Each of the terms in Figure 14 was queried using the
Distributor's simple search field. Where a Distributor lacked a simple
search field, the search all or keyword function was used in the advanced
search (see appendix 1 for details.)
Fig. 15: Results of Performing
a Advanced Search
The fields used for each advanced search was dependent
upon the types of fields available to query. (See Appendix 1 for details.)
As compared with Besser's findings, there is substantially
the same result from each search in each system. Nevertheless, there is
some evidence of variation. Neither the statistical significance of this
variation nor its correlation with Besser's findings was assessed for
this preliminary examination. And while the many contributory sources
for this variation are not the focus of this paper, a number of potential
contributing variables can be identified. One of the largest variables
was the way in which the authors performed the searches in each of the
different distributions (see also Appendix 1). With significant variation
in interface, indexing and functional definition between Distributors
it is very difficult to perform an apples to apples comparison. Beyond
these differences in user strategy there are a number of other more technical
variables that are likely to have some impact on these findings.
Variables potentially influencing search returns
- Collection indexing methodology
- Text stemming capabilities
- Natural language capabilitie
- Number of fields available for query
- Keyword and "All Fields" search capabilities
- Boolean query capabilities
- Search engine capabilities
There are similarities as well as notable differences
between the features and functions available through the Distributors
of The AMICO Library. With AMICO's focus on a diversity of audiences,
K-12 through Higher Education, many questions remain in regards to the
alignment between the available features and functions and the needs of
the specific audiences. To date, most user research has been conducted
in higher education environments that traditionally rely on slide presentations.
Very little research has been conducted on the needs of K-12 and public
library users. Because of this, it is likely that current Distributor
features and functions cater more to the needs of higher education. Even
so, all users are still struggling to define their needs while simultaneously
defining new applications and rethinking traditional methodologies in
the digital environment. Truly innovative uses of digital resources and
the definition of related needs will not be possible until users are able
to put hard copy metaphors aside.
The amount of experience users have with a resource can
affect their ability to identify what they need from the resource. Without
fully understanding the potential capabilities of a resource such as AMICO,
users can't always identify which features and functions they desire.
In this regard, education and training can serve as another variable that
can have a significant positive impact on the perceived utility of a resource.
Sayre and Wetterlund (2002) found that once K-12 teachers were shown capabilities
of features and functions available in an online catalog of images, they
were able to realize the potential of the functions. Prior to exploring
these capabilities teachers were unable to describe the types of features
and functions they might find useful. This suggests that asking teachers
to describe desirable features and functions might be less effective than
observing which features and functions are used over time, and to what
end. Educators can find it difficult to imagine technological possibilities,
but have no trouble imagining creative pedagogical possibilities for existing
technology. The impact of these factors should be taken into consideration
with all end users in designing future research.
Along with the evolving state of the end users is the
continued progress in the cognitive and information sciences in developing
more efficient, intelligent solutions for addressing users needs. In order
to properly address these types of issues and opportunities, more rigorous
formal research is imperative, including task sequence studies and usability
analysis for each specified audience.
A rhetorical strategy suggests, on the basis of a rhetorical
tree configuration, what shot segmentation and which transition effect
should be applied. The strategies employed in the Torre Aquila multimedia
guide were elicited by a focus group activity with a documentary director.
Dissemination of a single digital resource through multiple
distributors is one model for addressing the needs of multiple audiences.
The Art Museum Image Consortium has found this model to have many advantages,
the most significant being exposure to a broader range of users. With
a common set of data and multiple Distributors, The AMICO Library
now offers a unique environment to assess the utility of different features
and functions against the requirements of different user communities.
The long-term success will be determined by taking full advantage of this
virtual laboratory to strengthen the connections between content and its
application. In the future, AMICO will continue to partner its Members,
Subscribers and Distributors to take advantage of and share this tremendous
opportunity to develop a greater understanding of networked delivery of
digital cultural heritage information.
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