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Sprint 102

The Avalon team's demo for sprint 102 -- showing our new board, walking through our current design for a playlist marker and demonstrating RuboCop in our development branch -- is now available:



To view all demos, here's our Avalon collection:



Note that in this demo we are also announcing 2 upcoming point releases:


5.0.1 – critical bug fixes

5.1.0 – improved 5.0 feature releases, specifically playlist features. 


If you would like to check out our new waffle board:


Our waffle board, along with our #Avalon slack channel in Hydra AND our new RuboCop best practices are all measures to bring community insight and inspiration to the Avalon code and design.  





Announcing Avalon 5.0

Announcing Avalon 5.0


Indiana University and Northwestern University are pleased to announce Avalon Media System 5.0.

Release 5.0 adds the following capabilities:


·      Organization and Sharing Features

o   Create private or shareable Playlists

o   Add whole audio and video files or clips to playlists

·      Content Ingest API

o   A lightweight API for importing metadata and links to existing derivatives into Avalon.

·      Access control enhancements

o   IP based access control

o   “Date digitized” field for master files.

o   Grant access permission for items for set periods of time

·      More granular searching

o   Searching now includes section and structure labels

o   “Date digitized” provided as admin facet.

·      Accessibility phase 2

o   Support for ingesting/delivering captions in VTT and/or SRT files

o   Player shows captions when available

o   End user can toggle captioning on/off via player control - mouse and keyboard.


Users of Avalon 4.0 can take advantage of these new features by Upgrading Avalon 4.0 to Avalon 5.0.


For a more comprehensive list of changes, see the 5.0 release notes.


For more details on each of these new features, visit: What’s New in Avalon 5.0

Please feel free to try Avalon 5.0 on our public test server ( before installation.



•          Installation options include virtual machine image, manual installation, and puppet upgrade. More information on all available options can be found on the Avalon web site’s Download page:


We welcome your feedback on Avalon 5.0 via the avalon-discuss-l discussion list.   Join the discussion list at


Best regards,


Jon Dunn

Evviva Weinraub

Avalon Media System Project Co-Directors



Community Development Assessment Update

In the past few months we have not only located ten media researchers at Northwestern University, but also conducted our first round of observations and interviews. With the diary study a few weeks underway as well, we wanted to share some of what we're learning so far about how academics use media in their research, and how Avalon could better serve their needs.

So far we have realized how screen grabs are important to many media researchers, as well as efficient ways to label and later search media files on their computer. Additionally, many of the academics we have worked with still rely on paper to take their notes, with none using in-player annotation tools. However, the in-player scrolling thumbnail has proved to be the most popular feature that researchers use. Across the board study participants put up with non-ideal conditions when working with media, because of the lack of extant and accurate historical content. The struggle is real, folks. As the study continues, we hope to learn more about how to better assist researchers in locating media and seamlessly using it for their research.

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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!  






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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.

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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.