CIMI stands for Computer Interchange of Museum Information. CIMI was used as the logotype for the Committee on the Computer Interchange of Museum Information, active from July 1990 to June 1992, which debated how best to establish standards in support of computer-based museum information interchange. CIMI also refers to the ongoing initiative of the Museum Computer Network to support the development and implementation of standards for automated recording and retrieval of museum information along with mechanisms for its interchange.
This report to the museum community summarizes the major achievement of the CIMI initiative. In it we:
We hope this report will serve as a significant resource for developing interchange and will assist museum professionals as well as software vendors and network service providers with planning and implementation of museum information systems.
The report is the result of several years of deliberations by museum professionals and consultation with technical experts in a variety of organizations, but it is authored by two individuals. As President of the Museum Computer Network in 1988, David Bearman proposed the initiative to the board and chaired the CIMI Committee from 1988-1992. John Perkins has served as Project Manager since 1989 and continues to work in this capacity with on-going Task Groups and the CIMI Management Committee established by the MCN Board in November 1992.
READING THIS REPORT
The organization of this report follows closely the discovery process in which the CIMI Committee engaged in developing the Standards Framework. While we believe that this recapitulation of the process will educate others in the way CIMI educated itself, we have not been so bound by history as to take readers on all the byways and false paths which the Committee took. As a result, even though most of the discussion and illustrations follow CIMI briefing papers and minutes, readers who return to those sources will find occasions where this report extends the analysis in interim products.
This document has many acronyms and technical terms. We have made every effort to include definitions of these in the Glossary found in Appendix A.
Some of the discussions at CIMI meetings were highly charged and contentious. We believe that we have fairly represented the divergent views and correctly stated the agreed positions of the CIMI Committee (1990-1992). The primary documents are cited in the bibliography for those interested in the history.
While the work has undergone editorial and content review by the CIMI Management Committee, the final product is the responsibility of the authors alone. We hope that the work will promote discussion and elicit constructive criticism so that the ongoing CIMI activities to develop services and formats, and implementing their interchanges will continue to benefit from greater expertise.
The work of the CIMI Committee from 1990-92 was supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Pew Charitable Trusts. There was also significant support from the Museum Computer Network and the Getty Art History Information Program (AHIP). Additionally, the Cultural History Information Task Group was supported by the Association for State and Local History (AASLH). The Art Information Task Force sponsored by the College Art Association (CAA), and the Getty Art History Information Program (AHIP), received additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The ongoing work of the CIMI Management Committee and projects from July 1992 is supported by the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and the Research Libraries Group Inc. (RLG).
The authors wish to acknowledge and thank the many who contributed time, expertise and energy to the work of CIMI. It is not possible to thank all individually but special recognition is due the following individuals and organizations.
Members of the CIMI Committee, 1990-92: Joan Bacharach, US National Park Service; David Bearman, Archives and Museum Informatics, Project Director; Lynn Cox, Museum Computer Network; Gail Eagen, Canadian Heritage Information Network; Julian Humphries, Association for Systematic Collections; Ron Kley, Association for Living Historical Farms and Agricultural Museums; Sarah Lawrence and Sarah Kennington, Argus User Group; Kathleen McDonnell, Conservation Information Network; Patricia Gordon Michael, American Association for State and Local History; John Perkins, Project Manager; Andrew Roberts, International Council of Museums Documentation Committee, Museum Documentation Association; Margaretta Sander, Art Information Task Force; Lenore Sarasan, Willoughby Associates; Greg Tschann, American Association of Museums; Alan Tucker, Research Libraries Group Inc.
The work of the Task Groups would not have been possible without the contributions of each of their respective members but especially the Chairs and Managers of the collaboration with CIMI. Thanks are extended to Ellsworth Brown (Chicago Historical Society) and Rosanne Mackie (AASLH) of the Cultural History Task Group and to Eleanor Fink (Getty AHIP), Patricia Barnett (Metropolitan Museum of Art), and Margaretta Sander (Getty AHIP) for help on the Art Information Task Force.
Thanks are also due members of the 1988 MCN board who launched the effort, the Executive Directors of MCN Deirdre Stam and Lynn Cox, technical advisors and reviewers and those involved in testing the protocols Richard DesJardins (GOSIP Institute), Wayne Davison (RLG Inc.), John Day (BBN), Richard Fuchs (RLG Inc.), Michael Ester (Getty AHIP), Richard Light, Clifford Lynch (University of California), Michel Vulpe (SoftQuad Ltd.), Greg Spurgeon (National Gallery of Canada), Kody Janney (Continuum Productions), and all the observers at CIMI Committee meetings who participated in the debates.
Invaluable advice and encouragement was received from standards bodies in the US and Canada and from participants in the technical committees of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), especially Pat Harris of NISO. For assistance on assessing the reality of many multimedia standards, Lawrence Welsch and Judi Moline of the U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). And on a variety of international museological matters, Andrew Roberts of CIDOC, members of the CIDOC Reconciliation of Data Standards Working Group, Cary Karp and the Swedish initiative INSAM, and the Museum Documentation Association.
Finally our thanks go to the current MCN Management Committee which has taken on the challenge of carrying forward the work.
Rachel Allen, National Museum of American Art; David Bearman, Archives and Museum Informatics; Leslie Johnston, Historic New Orleans Collection; Peter Rauch, Museum Informatics Project University of California, Berkeley. Peter Homulos, Canadian Heritage Information Network; Susan Hockey, Centre for Electronic Texts in the Humanities; Jim Michalko, Research Libraries Group Inc.; Judi Moline, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Andrew Roberts, International Council on Museums, CIDOC; John Perkins, CIMI Project Manager (ex officio).
GETTING MORE INFORMATION
For information about the status of these ongoing activities, the reader is referred to the CIMI Project Manager.
John Perkins CIMI Project Manager Tel: 902-826-2824 Fax: 902-826-1337 Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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