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Come See Avalon at OR 2016 - DUBLIN

We are packing our bags, dusting off the passports, putting the final touches on our PowerPoints and heading off to OR 2016!

We hope you'll come see us present if you're in Dublin next week.  

Here's where we'll be:

MONDAY, July 13 9:00am - 11:00pm · Location: Lloyd D 

Intro to Hydra and Making it Useful in Your Organization

Chris Awre2, Karen Estlund1, Ellen Ramsey3, Evviva Weinraub4

1Pennsylvania State University, United States of America; 2University of Hull, United Kingdom; 3University of Virginia, United States of America; 4Northwestern University, United States of America

This two-hour workshop will provide those new to Hydra or considering implementing Hydra with a base knowledge of the Hydra framework and community. The workshop will begin with a showcase and review of Hydra implementations and repository functions currently used in select instantiations. The workshop will also provide an overview of the Hydra framework demonstrating how different components fit together, how the community structure supports and furthers Hydra as a whole, and examples of outcomes from the working and interest groups. During the second half of the session, participants will split into two tracks: Service Management and Project Management. The Service Management group will identify shared key performance indicators for a Hydra implementation and design ways to share data across institutions. The Project Management group will map out a development roadmap for a feature or customization to demonstrate a sample process for one’s local Hydra implementation. The workshop will conclude with a question and answer session where participants will share concerns and map out problems and challenges brainstorming solutions and paths forward.


TUESDAY, July 14, 4:00pm-5:30pm · Location: Maxwell Theatre

Researching Researchers: Avalon Media System's Ethnographic Study of Media Repository Usage

Deborah I. Cane, Carolyn Caizzi

Northwestern University Libraries, United States of America

The Avalon Media System is an open source system, developed by the libraries at Indiana University Bloomington and Northwestern University, for managing and providing access to large collections of digital audio and video. The freely available system enables libraries and archives to easily curate, distribute and provide online access to their collections for purposes of teaching, learning and research. The Avalon community is made up of a dozen educational, media and open-technology institutions and the project is funded in part by a two-year grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

With the use of the Mellon grant, we have designed, developed and are currently conducting a study of scholarly use of audio and video collections by researchers over multiple disciplines within the Humanities. Our methodology for the study is seated in ethnographic inquiry and user experience modeling, and we will use these results internally to guide future feature prioritization for Avalon.

The study is being conducted with three different kinds of data collection:

1. Environmental Observation

2. Interviews based on observations

3. Diary Study

Avalon team members will present early findings, themes, potential user stories, and a current assessment of our ethnographic study focusing on process, product and participation.


THURSDAY, July 16 11:00am-12:30pm · Location: CA 1

Avalon at a Crossroads: From Collaboration to Community

Jon W. Dunn1, Evviva Weinraub2

1Indiana University, United States of America; 2Northwestern University, United States of America

Avalon Media System is an open source software system, originally developed by the libraries at Indiana University and Northwestern University, for managing and providing online access to large collections of digital audio and video for purposes of teaching, learning and research. Avalon was initially released in 2013, and as of early 2016, there are at least six adopters of Avalon but no consistent pathway for adopters to contribute financial or development resources to the project.

In 2015, we were awarded a grant from the Mellon Foundation to create a long-term sustainability plan that includes better integration with the Hydra community, a strategy to increase adoption, and a pilot of a software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering in addition to its current locally-installed model.

This presentation will provide an outline of Avalon’s path forward and how it corresponds with directions of the Hydra and Fedora communities. We are radically changing our development strategy as we move forward, and we will discuss our strategic initiatives and outline new areas of exploration and development. Additionally, we will talk about the advantages and disadvantages we have seen in our partnership model and how we plan to evolve that model as we move forward with Avalon’s development.


HydraDAM2: Repository Challenges and Solutions for Large Media Files

Karen Cariani1, Jon W. Dunn2

1WGBH Educational Foundation, United States of America; 2Indiana University, United States of America

Indiana University and WGBH are jointly developing a preservation-focused digital repository system for audio and video, known as HydraDAM 2, using the Hydra technology stack and Fedora 4 repository platform. It is well known that media preservation files can be very large, have complex structure, and require significant processing to enhance access.

Although Fedora 4 is designed to be more capable of storing large files directly within the repository, there are still reasons to consider storing the preservation files outside the repository with pointers to the actual storage locations. HydraDAM 2 is being designed to support two different storage models: one that stores media files in the repository (potentially via an integrated hierarchical storage management system) and one that stores files offline, with only pointers and metadata in the repository.

In this presentation, we will discuss the architecture and design of HydraDAM 2, briefly demonstrate the system as developed to date, and walk through the workflow process. We will also discuss our roadmap for future development.


We will of course be at lots of other events, learning and live tweeting!  

Find us! Chat with us!  






Blog Categories:

Avalon Fedora 3 to Fedora 4

We've been working on a proof of concept for Fedora 3 to Fedora 4. 


Which of course is not to say we suddenly have an upgrade path from 3 to 4, complete with PCDM thrown in to boot, but we did want to test the feasibility of the fedora-migrate gem. 

For the test we're sticking to migrating over datastreams and a Fedora 3 model.


We've built up a hydra-works app​ that lets you fire up a Hydra app on your own laptop (or a dev server) and run a test migration.  I'd draw everyone's attention to the Know Bugs part of the ReadMe.  This isn't intended to be a definitive test, just get us to a point where we have an idea of what is involved and give our metadata librarians a sample Fedora 4 repo to poke around in.


We thought this might be of interest to other folks who currently have Fedora 3 repos or otherwise have played with F3 to F4 migrations.  


Let us know what you think.

Friday Round-Up: March 25, 2016

We find the repository news, you sit back and enjoy...


Breaking! Wonderful projects are being put online! Gale Launches a New Digital LGBTQ History Archive,


And the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) posts 65,000 works of art online


If you’re in need of a TV binge, that has a definite limit, check out DailyMotion’s Archive of Unsold and Unaired TV Pilots


If you’re feeling more whimsical as you head into the weekend, try your hand at being Miyazaki - Animation Software for Studio Ghibli is now free!


Finally, fly on over to this inventive library for birds







Friday Round Up: March 18, 2016

We're on top of news around the web about digital a/v repositories, so you don't have to be!


The American Genre Film Archive was formed in 2009 and in a few short years has become the largest archive of its kind in the world, preserving the independent exploitation movies of the 60s, 70s and 80s.


The Packard Humanities Institute, or PHI, prepares to officially open a $150-million facility in Santa Clarita known as the PHI Stoa. The new facility will house the UCLA film and TV archives.



In 2014 Oregon State University received the African American Railroad Porter Oral History Collection. The audio recordings made between 1983 and 1992 tell the stories of Black railroad porters in Oregon in the early and mid-twentieth century. Now, OSU has received a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust to digitize the collection and create a website to feature the digitized recordings and their transcripts.

To mark the 70th anniversary of Italy’s 1945 liberation from fascism, the Milan-based duo We Are Muesli developed an interactive story based on the country’s 20 months of partisan resistance

Guess what NEH found when digitizing its old records? A 1974 application from Internet pioneer Andy van Dam to make an 8 mm movie describing the (still pretty hypothetical) concept of hypertext.





Friday Round Up



Adopters, stakeholders, devs and other blog readers!  Hello from Avalon!


It's been a while since we've posted new content, but much is in the works, and our team has been working diligently to bring you Avalon's 5th release.  We've had a meeting of the Advisory Board, some face to face meetings, made some changes to our roadmap, and have made some additions to our team.  (Look for more here in upcoming blog posts on all those important topics.) 


But we're also very excited to bring a new weekly blog feature to all of you: the Friday Round Up.  Inspired by ArtStor's blog, each Friday, we will bring you interesting news from around the time-based media world, things that should delight, excite or at least get you thinking about your own repositories and how best to build, display and preserve. 


So, without more explication, here is our

Friday Round Up for March 11, 2016:

A reel from the Studs Terkel Collection is ready for digitization.  Photo by Gene DeAnna, Courtesy Library of Congress

A reel from the Studs Terkel Collection is ready for digitization.  Photo by Gene DeAnna, Courtesy Library of Congress
Many photographers voice concerns about the centralizing of photo archives in London:
Across the pond, archivists at DC discuss the problems of preserving radio: 
At least we can all collectively geek out at the sneak peek the NY Times is giving us into the Bob Dylan archive: 
Supporting moving image restoration projects, such as the pioneers of African American Cinema: 

Community Development Assessment of Scholarly Needs Begins

We're happy to announce that we will begin Avalon Media System's Community Development Assessment of Scholarly Needs at Northwestern University Library. This study, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant, will allow us to investigate how academics use media in their research. We are in the process of contacting professors at Northwestern, who will agree to two observations, three interviews, and a six-month diary study. We are looking forward to working with academics to learn more about how we can better develop Avalon for their needs. In addition, what we learn during this study will be helpful in adapting it for Indiana University Libraries.

Blog Categories:

Supported Platforms and Browsers

Avalon is supported by several platforms including: Windows 7-10; Mac OS X 10.8-10.10 (Lion, Mavericks, and Yosemite); iOs 5.1-89; and Android 4.1-5.0. On Android, Avalon supports the Chrome browser on devices running Jelly Bean 4.1 or higher. 


In regards to other browsers, Avalon is supported by: Chrome 47-48; Firefox 38-39; Safari 8-9; Microsoft Edge and Internet Explore 11; Chrome for Android 42-44; and Mobile Safari 9537.53-600.1.4.


On these various platforms and browsers, one can not only view media but also edit it. For more details about our current release, please consult the Wiki.

New Accessibility Features

As we develop Avalon further, we aim to reframe accessibility in terms of what we can provide our users, rather than discussing what people lack. To that end, some of the features of the newest release of Avalon expand the usability of our software.


In the interest of clarity for multilingual users and people who use screen readers, each page now has better facet labels and titles. For example:

The default language (English) is declared on each page.

Search terms are included at the beginning of the page titles for search result pages.

The URL provided to share (link to) specific content includes an appropriate title attribute.


Additionally, R4 is more accessible for keyboard users. You can now use the TAB key to move forward through each interactive element on the page, such as links, text fields, search, and buttons. In order to move backwards through these elements, all you need to do is press SHIFT + TAB. Furthermore, in order to easily and clearly navigate the page, each element will be surrounded by an outline as one moves from element to element. If the user wants to engage one of the elements, they simply press ENTER when the element is highlighted.


To make keyboard navigation even easier, the first element on each page is a “Skip to main content” link. This link moves the browser focus to the main content of the page. When viewing an audio or video page, the “Skip to main content” link moves focus directly to the Play button.


The player we use for Avalon comes from MediaElement.js and as they have updated their player with more accessible features, we have come to benefit from these enhancements. Like general page navigation, using the TAB key allows users to move forward through each button on the player: Play/Pause, Mute Toggle, Stream Quality, Create Thumbnail, and Fullscreen. Like other page elements, a surrounding outline visibly distinguishes it from surrounding controls. In order to trigger one of the buttons, the user just needs to press ENTER.


More details and examples of features from our current release can be found on our Wiki. On the roadmap for future releases is to provide Closed Captioning for our media player. With the assistance of Indiana University’s Assistive Technology and Accessibility Centers, we look forward to making accessibility integral to Avalon’s future development.

Get to Know the Avalon Team: Chris Syversen and Evviva Weinraub

In our series Get to Know the Avalon Team, we're providing a closer look at the individuals who are working each day to develop the Avalon Media System


Chris Syversen

Chris started working at Northwestern University Library in mid 2013 and began working on the Images/DIL project where he helped update the project, add in automated tests, and develop MENU. He previously worked as a consultant in the trading and financial industry, a startup, and a credit card processor. He's used many programming languages and frameworks and is really excited to contribute to an open source application that will be used in education. He'd be really excited to never do anything intense in PERL again.



Evviva Weinraub

Evviva Weinraub is the Associate University Librarian for Digital Strategies at Northwestern University and the co-Project Director on the Avalon project.

At Northwestern, Evviva has broad responsibilities for development and implementation of technology services within the libraries primarily focused on digital collections and repositories, metadata and discovery services, and infrastructure and desktop computing. With Avalon she works with her co-Director to establish overall project direction, management, and priority setting, as well as coordinate involvement with the project's partners and advisors.

Paris Is Listening

One of the publicly accessible collections Northwestern University has on its Repository site is The Robert Marcellus Master Class Audio Archives. The collection consists of 131 ¼” open reel audiotapes that have been digitized for preservation and access. These tapes document a series of Northwestern University master classes held by the American classical clarinetist Robert Marcellus from 1977 through 1990.

Listening to the classes reacquainted me with the art of breathing that I had to learn when playing clarinet in middle school. Marcellus’s soothing voice leads his class through proper embouchure. It is only after 35 minutes into the first class (1977-06-28) that we actually hear a clarinet playing, and it is beguiling when we finally do (37:15).

Harlow Hopkins, a professor at Olivet Nazarene College (now University) is “the first guinea pig,” as Marcellus introduces him. Though his performance of Cyrille Rose's “40 Studies, No. 13" sounds delightful to my slightly-better-than-totally-untrained ear, Marcellus’s incisive critique demonstrates his generosity. He encourages the clarinetists to think in eight notes, not simply quarters, in order to better understand the phrasing in the etudes. Listening to his comforting voice, I started miming old key positions.


More than conjuring up personal memories of band camps, this collection has been exceedingly helpful for many professional clarinetists today. Greg MacAyeal, Acting Head of Northwestern’s Music Library, recently gave a talk entitled “Avalon and On!: The Robert Marcellus Master Class Audio Archive” at the Music Library Association, Midwest Chapter Annual Meeting (Lousiville, KY, October 16, 2015). While the collection received various requests in its analogue form, since being digitized and made available for public use through Avalon, there have been 5582 page hits since the site launched. While 80% of page hits originate from the US, with cities such as Houston, Evanston, Chicago, New York, Denton, and Indianapolis, MacAyeal told me that interestingly Paris, France ranked as the third city for most page hits.


While it is still unclear the extent of Marcellus’s connections to France, in his first master class he discusses how his high school teacher, Earl Hamlin was a pupil of Georges Grisez, a famous French-school clarinetist. This school is the mode of instruction that Marcellus imparts in his Master Classes - practical exercises to focus on breathing and what he describes as the “neat clarity of finger action” — and apparently they are still relevant to assessors of the collection today in Paris and worldwide. MacAyeal remarked how this partnership between The Robert Marcellus Master Class Audio Archives and Avalon Media System has provided a significant contribution to the clarinet community. He has presented on the collection at the 2012 ClarinetFest and the Audio Archives were featured in the community newsletter, The Clarinet, in June 2014.