Institutional Sources Study Project

Note: This project is not currently active.


(above: Bernhard Schneider (1845-1907), Landschaft am Rande eines Waldes, 1876. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


About the project

A special TFAO emphasis is building an archive of material, authored by scholars and other informed individuals, beneficial for the study of art history in the United States. As a public service, without charge to readers, TFAO annually publishes a number of scholarly texts relating to American representational art in its publication Resource Library. Benefits to both the public and institutional copyright holders are listed here.

Long term goals of TFAO are to encourage owners of catalogue texts to provide free public access to them on their websites and for TFAO to provide access on its website to texts from rare catalogues and others not easily available elsewhere.

Resource Library contains thousands of articles and essays published online since 1997. Some of the articles identify exhibition catalogues with essays which may be candidates for online publishing. Essays not identified in Resource Library articles may also be candidates.

This project, develped in 2009, compliments the ongoing American Art Review Study Project and the Collections-Centric Scholarly Texts Project by identifying texts for potential online publishing that are owned by museums and not likely to be identified through the other TFAO projects. It would also enable independent contractors qualified to provide service in instances where the necessary American Art Review volumes are not available to them.

TFAO welcomes other organizations to use the procedures developed for this project to add scholarly texts to their own websites.

Please click here for information on this project's potential.


Desired essays

Texts of interest to TFAO include in-depth biographies of artists not yet published online. A reference source for online postings is Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists. Other texts may include historical and thematic surveys not previously published online. Use of the indexes and search capabilities within TFAO's web site plus broader Internet search through search engines such as Google will eliminate essays and other bodies of scholarship already published online. All essays will further Resource Library's goal of:

...building an interconnected body of knowledge including the relationships of American artists to their teachers in foreign nations and America, the history of American art centers, schools, ateliers and museums, the evolution of methods and styles of artistic expression, and changing cultural emphases over time within its field of interest.

All essays must contain a minimum of 600 words covering the topic of the submission, excluding "boilerplate" text describing the source's address, hours of operation, fees, etc. Acknowledgments, forewords, indexes, checklists and image captions are not included as approved texts. Images are excluded. There is no upper limit on word count.



For a list of potential museum sources see Resource Library's Art Museum, Gallery and Art Center Index or for a search by state Sources of Articles and Essays Indexed by State within the United States.

Google Books: Google announced in 2004 a collaboration with institutional libraries to digitize large quantities of books: the Google Books Library Project. The Google initiative to digitize the contents on the New York Public Library, California, Harvard, Michigan, Oxford and Stanford university libraries will result in a spectacular improvement in the ability of scholars, students and teachers to find relevant texts for further study.

Public domain books are available on an open access basis. Copyrighted material is treated in one of three ways. Google negotiates with cooperating publishers through its Google Books Partner Program for "Limited Preview" of selected entire pages, via search within the books by readers. For scanned books without copyright permissions, "snippets" from pages are available. For remaining books basic information is provided without ability to search within the book. The snippets inform readers about the relevance of the book to their subject of inquiry.

Google explains its service saying:

For books that enter Book Search through the Library Project, what you see depends on the book's copyright status. We respect copyright law and the tremendous creative effort authors put into their work. If the book is in the public domain and therefore out of copyright, you can page through the entire book and even download it and read it offline. But if the book is under copyright, and the publisher or author is not part of the Partner Program, we only show basic information about the book, similar to a card catalog, and, in some cases, a few snippets -- sentences of your search terms in context. The aim of Google Book Search is to help you discover books and learn where to buy or borrow them, not read them online from start to finish. It's like going to a bookstore and browsing - with a Google twist.

To conduct a Google Books search of published exhibition catalogues of a museum go to Google Books, enter in the search box enter: inpublisher:"name of museum" and retrieve information on the catalogues.


Requirements for independent contractor

Appreciation of the value of education in American art and the desire to assist a non-profit organization in providing that education free to the public.
Access to a body of exhibition catalogues relating to American representational art.
Current staff members of an art museum who seek projects using their private time.
Former staff members of an art museum or long-term docents.
Extensive written and verbal public interaction experience including substantial experience in conversing with museum staff including curators and directors.
Proficiency with computers and access to necessary equipment including a computer connected to the Internet, a document scanner, OCR software and Microsoft Word.
Students should not apply as they do not have sufficient life experience.


Nature of the business relationship

TFAO will enter into an independent contractor relationship through a written agreement with an individual, business or corporation to perform specified services. TFAO will have the right to control or direct only the result of the work done by the independent contractor, and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result. The contractor will not be considered an employee. No taxes will be withheld from payments made by TFAO to the contractor. The contractor will be responsible for all state and federal taxes due in connection with an engagement.
TFAO may be required to file information returns to report certain types of payments made to independent contractors during the year including Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, to report payments of $600 or more to persons not treated as employees (e.g. independent contractors) for services performed.


Contractor's workplace, tools and preparation

Independent contractor will provide his or her own workplace for an engagement and will provide for the necessary equipment and software. In addition, contractor will become familiar with TFAO's About TFAO and Author Index, plus Resource Library's Services to institutions, Scholarly text from private sources, and Content presentation guidelines, It's good to know -- if asked about viewership -- that TFAO's website is viewed by millions of people each year and is the most viewed website in the world devoted to American art. Sometimes it pleases copyright holders to know that many new people will be exposed to their texts and that TFAO will enable them to be more widely known. See TFAO statistics.

Work flow

1. TFAO identifies catalogues of interest published by a museum:


2. Potential contractor separately identifies catalogues within a museum's library holdings published by the museum:


3. Potential contractor advises TFAO of:


4. TFAO conducts further research on identified catalogues.


5. Independent contractor and TFAO agree upon catalogue essay candidates.


6. Both parties enter into an agreement specifying texts for inclusion. TFAO will not compensate contractor in any amount for work involved with texts that do not yield approval emails directly to TFAO from the copyright owners plus complete presentation packages. The risk that work done on a text will not lead to a complete presentation package and subsequent payment by TFAO rests solely with the contractor.


7. Independent contractor secures permission with copyright owners for TFAO to reprint texts.

Before seeking approvals of copyright owners, the contractor should become familiar with TFAO's page on Acquisition and deselection of content for the TFAO-dl. This page provides reassurance to copyright owners through TFAO's promises regarding reprinting of texts. TFAO's sample letters may be of benefit to the contractor in phrasing emails or conversation with copyright owners.
Email letters should always be preceded by phone conversations confirming the ownership of texts.
If, during a conversation with a copyright holder, the text's owner wishes to review the digitized and proofread texts produced by the contractor before giving final approval for reprinting, the contractor will email the text as a .doc file to the owner.
TFAO will not send paper copies of online-printed texts to owners. Links will be sent by TFAO as a courtesy when requested.
TFAO has found that referrals to the rights and reproductions departments of museums are almost always errors on the part of the museum. If copyright owners challenge the legitimacy of the contractor's relationship with TFAO they may call TFAO or send an email to TFAO's director for verification. TFAO will be pleased to provide an email letter of introduction for the benefit of the contractor.


8. Independent contractor arranges for copyright owners to send permissions emails directly to TFAO (with CCs to the contractor) indicating their approvals for reprinting online in Resource Library.

The final approval emails from the copyright owners are to be for one time publication in Resource Library,

9. Independent contractor conducts OCR, proofreading and formatting in accordance with Content presentation guidelines to 99.995% accuracy. Near-perfect proofreading accuracy is required to keep the trust of the authors, students and teachers who rely on TFAO's standards. OCR scanning, proofreading and formatting could be conducted through a separate contract by another party if agreed to by TFAO and contractor, but it is preferred to keep the work unified. The OCR, proofreading and formatting steps should be done after permission is secured from copyright owners for TFAO to reprint texts. The contractor will need to make at least two trips to the library: the first trip to identify books that meet agreed upon initial screening criteria, and the second trip to photocopy the pages of the texts that will be scanned.

TFAO has found over the years that it is helpful to separate proofreading tasks to speed along the process and reduce errors. If a text has footnotes, TFAO suggests first reformatting all of the footnote numbers sprinkled through the essay at the same time (e.g. [25], [26], etc.). This allows the contractor to better keep track of the numerical sequence while proofreading and better insures that footnote numbers in the text are not passed over. The second useful step is to create all paragraph breaks, if needed, including indented paragraphs for long quotes. After that, all other proofreading may be done paragraph by paragraph, attending to items such as multiple periods within quotes (e.g. matter....I said), fixing hyphens (e.g. "plants-and" into double hyphens "plants -- and"), and replacing all en dashes into single plain hyphens, etc. Also hyphenated words at the end of lines in the original text are to be joined back together in the new .doc file. Examples: worth-while, seper-ated.


10. Independent contractor emails to TFAO a complete presentation package for each fully processed text to include:

a. forwarded email letter of the contractor's CC copy of the permission from the copyright owner previously sent to TFAO
b. proofread and formatted text in .doc format according to Content presentation guidelines.
c. "about the author" text. For author information the contractor provides either what the text's owner sends to the contractor or uses basic facts from the catalog biography such as: "At the time of writing of the above article [author name] was the [job title] at the [name of employer]."
d. Resource Library page header for the article indicating contact information for comments or for securing reprints and the "Editor's note" for the bottom of the page which includes acknowledgements for assistance in gaining permissions and other information.
For the page header TFAO first states the date of permission and the owner of the text. TFAO always wants the reader to have a means of reaching the text owner directly (valid at time of publication as TFAO does not update owner info later on) -- without contacting TFAO. TFAO does not want readers contacting it (usually years later) with the intent of TFAO trying to figure out how to route them to the source. TFAO only provides author/owner's personal information such as email addresses and phone numbers if they expressly want TFAO to do so. Otherwise, regarding author owners, TFAO publishes only the employer's postal address, or web site and/or phone number. Sometimes TFAO publishes information on the last known place of employment as the last resort. Here is a page header example:
Editor's note: The following text was reprinted in Resource Library on [month, day, year] with the permission of [name of copyright holder]. If you have questions or comments regarding the text, or wish to obtain a copy of the catalogue from which the text was excerpted, please contact [name of copyright holder] directly through this [phone number] and [address]:
[phone number]
[website or other address]
TFAO will add gray color to the text at its office.
For the "Editor's note" TFAO repeats part of the header regarding the permission. Then the date of permission is added. If applicable, reference is then made to an exhibition related to the article. Lastly, TFAO acknowledges who helped gain the permission. If the article was published in whole earlier in a catalogue or brochure, this first instances of publication is noted. Here is an "Editor's note" example:
Resource Library editor's note:
The above text was reprinted in Resource Library on [month, day, year] with permission of [name of copyright holder], which was granted to TFAO on [month, day, year]. [author's name]'s article pertains to [name and dates of exhibition if applicable].
Resource Library wishes to extend appreciation to [name of contractor plus any other persons who helped gain permission] for [her/his/their] help concerning permission for reprinting the above text.

TFAO will make payment to the independent contractor for an agreed upon number of complete presentation packages after those packages are verified by TFAO to be of satisfactory quality. No payment will be made for partially completed presentation packages.


Compensation for a text from a catalogue with one fully processed essay

Baseline charge:

TFAO estimates that an independent contractor may spend these amounts of time for baseline components. Elements include:
1. identification of authors, essay titles, copyright owner(s): .25 hours per catalogue
2. permissions process: .4 hours per catalogue for included texts
3. preparation of presentation package for TFAO: .5 hours per catalogue for included texts
total = 1.25 hours per article @ hourly equivalent rate of $30.
TFAO pays a fixed amount of $35 for this component of a complete presentation package. The actual time spent by an independent contractor may be more or less than the above estimated amount.

OCR scanning, proofreading and formatting charge:

For OCR scanning TFAO will pay 52.5 cents per page and for proofreading and formatting 84 cents per 1,000 characters.
Spaces between words and characters are not counted as characters.

Hypothetical example:

The total charge for a 10,600 character (about 2,000 words) text, for example, would be:
52.5 cents x 8 pages = $4.20
84 cents per 1,000 characters x 10.6 = $8.90
total OCR scanning, proofreading and formatting = $13.10
$13.10 + $35 baseline charge = $48.10

Note: If the museum is distant from the contractor, TFAO may provide a gift to the institution to provide scans that the contractor would otherwise perform if the books were in hand. In this case the institution would email the scanned pages to the contractor further processing. If the institution will not send scans to the contractor and the books cannot be borrowed from the institution by the contractor for scanning at the contractor's office, TFAO may reimburse the contractor for out of pocket photocopying costs for texts at the institutions's library. Scanning of such photocopies would be then be performed at the contractor's office. These arrangements are for books previously approved by copyright holders for republishing by TFAO.


Compensation for additional texts from an catalogue

Sometimes a catalogue may have more than one essay. If an independent contractor and TFAO agree that the contractor may pursue permissions for republishing specified essays in a catalogue beyond one catalogue essay, then payment at the rate of $20 is made to the contractor for each of the additional catalogue essays plus the OCR scanning, proofreading and formatting charge described above is also paid to the contractor.


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rev. 10/19/09

Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.

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