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Ho Ho Ho, Merry World Day for Audiovisual Heritage!

Tricia Patterson, the National Digital Stewardship Resident at MIT Libraries wrote a great blog post on the collections in MIT's Lewis Music Library in honor of World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. She is helping test MIT's digitization workflow using the Herb Pomeroy collection. She and a team are also "evaluating Avalon Media System as a dissemination platform, so people everywhere can enjoy it once it is digitized."



Originally posted on SIPs, DIPs, & bytes: NDSR Boston's Digital Preservation Test Kitchen:


The 27th of October, while being the very special Fourth Day Before Halloween, was also proclaimed World Day for Audiovisual Heritage by UNESCO as of 2005. This year’s theme for the day is “Archives at Risk: Much More To Do” – something you don’t have to tell us digital stewards twice!


View the original (520 more words)



Indiana University Goes Live with the Avalon Media System

The Avalon Media System is now in production at Indiana University. With this achievement, the development team members, based at both Indiana University and Northwestern University, are celebrating the successful implementation of Avalon at both project partner institutions. At Indiana University, Avalon is presented as Media Collections Online, integrating the signature Indiana Univeristy colors and branding bars. Media Collections Online currently offers publicly accessible content from several repositories across campus, including the Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive, and the Archive of African American Music & Culture. The production instance also includes video and audio playback improvements. New low, medium, and high quality playback options are available to users based on our testing of bitrates in a variety of bandwidth scenarios. We will be sharing these improvements in our upcoming release, 3.2.


Check out Media Collections Online for a peak at the wealth of digital library and archival media resources that Indiana University has to offer. Please also visit Avalon | Kelley School of Business, an Avalon implementation exclusively for the educational media produced by the renowned Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.



Open Access Publishing and Media at Indiana University

This week, Indiana University joins the international academic and research community in celebrating Open Access Week. All year round, IUScholarWorks raises awareness of open access publishing and enables Indiana University scholars to preserve and make their works freely available through this model. Maximizing the exposure of information supports the advancement of scholarship and enhances educational opportunities for students and the public. We asked Shayna Pekala, Open Access Publishing Manager, to discuss the solutions she has found for providing access to audio and video content and future steps for open access publishing and streaming media at Indiana University.


The IUScholarWorks Repository allows scholars to preserve and provide access to their research and data. What challenges have you have encountered with media content?


The IUScholarWorks Repository is built on DSpace open source software, which unfortunately does not have a mechanism for streaming video. While it is possible to store a video file in a DSpace record, the user would then have to download that file and view it with their own media player. Another issue is that users can only submit files up to 250MB, and many video files are larger than that. 


Currently, adding video to the Repository is a three-step process that involves:

  • creating a descriptive item record in DSpace,
  • uploading the video file to the Libraries’ legacy video system, the Video Streaming Server (VSS), where it can be streamed, and finally,
  • editing the DSpace record to include a link to the video file


When the Avalon Media System ultimately replaces the VSS, we will modify this practice by putting the video file in Avalon instead. In fact, we have already begun to do this with some videos from the Black Film/Center Archive (check out their collection in the Repository: It would be great if we could come up with a way for users to upload video to Avalon while they are creating a record in DSpace, but that’s something we haven’t explored yet.


You also support the Indiana University community in publishing open access journals and conference proceedings. How has Avalon supported this work?


IUScholarWorks Journals is based on the Open Journals Systems (OJS) publishing platform. Streaming video in OJS is only possible through the use of an embedded media player, which is where Avalon comes in. Our first example of an OJS site with embedded video  is the Proceedings for Collaboration, Advocacy, and Recruitment: Area and International Studies Librarianship Workshop. In the case of these workshop proceedings, we were able to store videos of the speakers, screencasts, and PDF transcripts in a single “article,” which provides a better experience for the user by allowing them to view all of these parts in one place.


What are your thoughts on the future relationship of streaming media and open access publishing at Indiana University?


The ability to integrate media is a growing request in all areas of open access publishing, especially for journals and conference proceedings. IUScholarWorks is keen on exploring new forms of digital publishing, and incorporating Avalon video lays a great foundation for what we might accomplish in the future.


To learn more about open access publishing and ways to support and take advantage of this model at Indiana University, consider attending the Open Access Week events hosted by the IU Office of Scholarly Publishing and the IU Libraries' Scholars' Commons.


We would love to hear your comments. How are you celebrating Open Access Week? What kinds of challenges and opportunities regarding open access publishing have you encountered?  Any thoughts on the future of media and open access publishing? 



Sprint 60 – September 19, 2014

The main goals of this sprint were to fix user interface issues and get our institutional production systems in place and ready for use. We completed the user interface issues that were a result of the recent upgrades to Hydra, Blacklight and Bootstrap. You may see a few differences in styling with version 3.2 because we made some decisions to stay closer to defaults than we had in previous releases. Our own institutions are ramping up production use of Avalon. Northwestern made a few quick changes to improve notifications and workflow issues for our staff. Indiana is busy spinning up three separate Avalon production instances to serve campus needs. An additional chunk of work we did this sprint was to test and improve our default transcoding profiles for people who are using Avalon with lower connection speeds.


Learn the details of each story and view our Sprint Demo recording below:


Sprint 59 – September 19, 2014 Demo Recording

  • VOV-3004 – I want to watch Avalon videos on a connection with a less than ideal bandwidth
  • VOV-2951 – [IU prod] I want to be confident that I am using a production-quality system
  • VOV-3031 – (Completed) I want to know bulk selection works as expected
  • VOV-3007 – (Completed) I want Avalon to be visually pleasing again

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Sprint 59 – September 5, 2014

Sprint 59 saw further progress towards implementing the Avalon Media System at Indiana University. During this sprint we focused infrastructure matters such as restart documentation and notifications for monitoring alerts. We also started a series of video playback tests with the goal of ensuring the best possible playback quality in low bandwidth scenarios. Testing for mobile and desktop environments will be completed using a variety of low, medium, and high bitrate options in addition to the current Avalon settings.


Bulk selection has been developed and the feature even allows users to see the number of items selected. We made use of Blacklight’s Bookmark feature and have contributed our changes back to Blacklight.


We inventoried operating systems, browser versions, available team members, and other factors relevant to testing in an effort to be even more systematic in our testing procedures. Testing on the Hydra 7.1 upgrades have now been completed. We will be investigating the few issues we encountered regarding connecting to the drop box and viewing the embedded media player in different contexts to determine whether they are full-fledged bugs.


A formal review of all of the changes to the Avalon interface after the upgrades to Hydra 7.1 and other dependencies has been completed. This review will guide the developers’ styling work in the next sprint.


Learn the details of each story and view our Sprint Demonstration recording below:


Sprint 59 – September 5, 2014 Demo Recording

  • VOV-2951 [IU prod] I want to be confident that I am using a production-quality system
  • VOV-3004  I want to watch Avalon videos on a connection with a less than ideal bandwidth
  • VOV-2818  (Completed) I want a way to bulk select a number of Avalon items for some later action         
  • VOV-2956  (Completed) I want to be confident that Avalon works as expected after the hydra 7 upgrade                   
  • VOV-3007  I want Avalon to be visually pleasing again

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Sprints 57 & 58 – August 2014

After completing Avalon’s upgrades to Hydra 7.1 and the latest versions of Blacklight, Ruby on Rails, and Bootstrap, the developers have dedicated this month to functionality and styling. As a part of this work, over 2,000 lines of code were changed to make Avalon more robust for future Blacklight upgrades. Some of the new perks include better responsive design performance and the ability to delete facet selections directly from the facet menu.


We’ve also laid the groundwork for performing bulk actions on media items. Now that we’ve designed the interface and interaction of bulk actions, we are working on bulk selection functionality using Blacklight. The next step will be adding the ability to perform actions. These will include publish, un-publish, delete, and change collection. Management actions will require authentication, though we are considering actions for public users, such as e-mailing links to selected media items.


We’ve planned new descriptive metadata fields, including physical description, a catalog record link, and a related item link. Lastly, the team saw the first mock-up of Indiana University’s production version of Avalon with Indiana University branding bars and colors.


Learn the details of each story and view our Sprint Demonstration recordings below:


Sprint 57 – August 8, 2014 Demo Recording

  • VOV-2912 – I want Avalon to work with Hydra 7

  • VOV-2913 – I want Avalon to look good with Hydra 7

  • VOV-2909 (Completed) – I want to have a robust design for bulk selection and actions to implement

  • VOV-2796 (Completed) – I want the Avalon dropbox to allow navigation to sub-directories to look for media files

  • VOV-2818 – I want a way to bulk select a number of Avalon items for some later action

  • VOV-2917 (Completed) –  I want a validated design for new descriptive metadata

  • VOV-2906  [NU Prod] I want to know why clicking on Manage Content Tab takes so long.


Sprint 58 – August 22, 2014 Demo Recording

  • VOV-2912– (Completed) I want Avalon to work with Hydra 7

  • VOV-2913– (Completed) I want Avalon to look good with Hydra 7

  • VOV-2956– I want to be confident that Avalon works as expected after the hydra 7 upgrade

  • VOV-2818– I want a way to bulk select a number of Avalon items for some later action

  • VOV-2951– [IU prod] I want to be confident that I am using a production-quality system

  • VOV-2906– (Completed) [NU Prod] I want to know why clicking on Manage Content Tab takes so long

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Avalon Embedded

Media managed through Avalon can be shared in many places. Embedding the Avalon player in Omeka pages or webpages are two great ways to extend the reach of publicly accessible content. 


The IU Moving Image Archive (IU MIA) exhibit, World War II Propaganda Films and IU: Audiovisual Production, Circulation, and Education, combines the advantages of two open source technologies. Omeka provides the IU MIA with a superb exhibit interface and the ability to classify films by subject. Avalon provides media management capabilities and enduring access to these films. After setting up the Omeka site and transcoding their media into Avalon, IU Moving Image Archive staff installed the Omeka plugin for Avalon. The plugin was created by IU Library Technologies’ Will Cowan. With a one-time addition of a line of PHP code, the plugin generates the Avalon media player embedded in an iframe. IU MIA staff simply copied the PURLs of the films from Avalon into the plugin menu of the Omeka pages. The plugin also works for audio items and the player’s dimensions may be easily reduced. The installation file and instructions are available on Will Cowan’s GitHub page.


Content in Avalon can spice up library outreach blogs or be shared by users on their own blogs and websites. An iframe embed link is included with every item in Avalon. Located directly beneath the player, the link may be copied and pasted into the code of any webpage. 

Next steps

Sharing media itself is useful, but it is also important to provide contextual information. The Avalon team recently added a button for the embedded player that brings users back to a media item’s original page in Avalon. This gives users the option to learn about the item and continue exploring your collections. Look for this feature in our upcoming release, Avalon 3.2.


Screenshot of the embedded Avalon Media System player with new the “i” link back button


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Sprints 55 & 56 – July 2014

July was marked by several exciting achievements. After completing extensive testing of Avalon 3.1 during Sprint 55, the team released Avalon 3.1 to the community. Northwestern University successfully implemented the new release on their production server, and Indiana updated their pilot server as well. The following sprint had the highest velocity to date. For those interested in our statistics, the team earned a total of 96 story points! 


Among the many completed stories are the following key improvements:

  • We found that by increasing users’ thread limits, item failures during batch ingest are eliminated. The puppet installation script was updated to reflect this as well as manual installation documentation for configuring Matterhorn.
  • We also designed the MODS mapping for several descriptive metadata fields, including language, original physical description, related item, and terms of use.
  • The embedded Avalon media player now includes a button that links to the original item page in Avalon.
  • We’ve also added the ability to navigate to subdirectories in the Avalon drop box, by using the browse-everything gem.
  • We upgraded Avalon to Hydra 7 and its new gems. We will continue testing the upgrades in Avalon and making style improvements to the interface.

Learn the details of each story and view our Sprint Demonstration recordings below:


Sprint 55 – July 11, 2014 Demo Recording

  • VOV-2858 - I want to know what the deal is with batches failing so regularly
  • VOV-2761 - I want to understand what's in 3.1 and how to configure it
  • VOV-2758 - I want to deploy a high-quality 3.1 release - continuing
  • VOV-2769 - NU production go live by July 3

Sprint 56 – July 25, 2014 Demo Recording

  • VOV-2881 - I want to test 3.1 on NU Prod (and IU Pilot?)
  • VOV-2758 - I want to deploy a high-quality 3.1 release
  • VOV-2858 - I want to know what the deal is with batches failing so regularly
  • VOV-2884 - I want to make sure all new fields to fill out basic info for an item have MODS mapping defined
  • VOV-2810 - When viewing embedded Avalon content, I want to link back to the item in Avalon
  • VOV-2796 - I want the Avalon dropbox to allow navigation to sub-directories to look for media files
  • VOV-2887 - I want to know how bulk actions should look and behave
  • VOV-2849 - I want my batches to complete without bogus failures
  • VOV-2690 - I want to upgrade to the latest Hydra components

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Release 3.1 Video Demonstration

See Release 3.1 in action and learn about the new features by watching our video demonstration:



For more information on 3.1, please visit the What's New in Avalon 3.1 wiki page.


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Northwestern University Goes Live with the Avalon Media System

Live from Northwestern University, please join us in welcoming the new Repository | audio + video! Northwestern’s media repository currently features two publicly accessible collections: Northwestern University Football Films and the Robert Marcellus Master Class Audio Archives. The team at Northwestern University tailored the product to meet their unique needs. While the NU branding bars and colors may be the most striking change, the team also made some behind-the-scenes changes, including the integration of their Handle System for item identification and additional permissions for collection editors. 


Check out Northwestern University’s Repository | audio + video or watch the Sprint 55 recording for a tour of Repository | audio + video from the perspective of a Northwestern University collection manager (see section [Demo] VOV-2769 - NU production go live by July 3).