The Project


Avalon Media System is an open source system 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. The project is led by the libraries of Indiana University Bloomington.

The Need

Video and audio collections for education are growing in importance and size. University libraries and archives need a complete and scalable system so they can easily curate their video and audio files and manage workflows for generating video and audio content. Their key requirements include:

  • Support for robust, standards-based metadata for description and annotation of time-based media.
  • Support for authentication and authorization.
  • Ability to accommodate special requirements for digital media asset preservation and long-term archiving.
  • Integration with preservation repository services.
  • Leverage other open-source higher education projects such as Samvera and Opencast Matterhorn.

In 2010, Indiana University conducted a survey of academic libraries' current practices and future aspirations regarding video-streaming technologies and services. As reported in a presentation at the 2010 EDUCAUSE Conference, the research found that academic libraries are increasingly involved in streaming video content in support of pedagogy and research.

The Solution

As this infographic shows, the Avalon Media System is tailored to the needs of libraries and archives, providing much-needed media management capabilities in support of teaching, learning and research.

Project History

Avalon is a follow-up product to the Variations Digital Music Library, an open-source system developed at Indiana University and employed since 1996 in various forms. Variations was also used at approximately 20 other institutions, primarily for streaming music course reserves.
In 2010, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) awarded a $50,000 National Leadership Grant to Indiana University and Northwestern University to plan development of Variations on Video — since renamed the Avalon Media System — from August 2010 through June 2011. Since then, Avalon's development has received continual support from several other generous grants:
  • IMLS National Leadership Grant for $948,000 from October 2011 through September 2014
  • Mellon Foundation Grant for $750,000 from January 2015 through January 2017, extension granted through July 2018
  • IMLS National Leadership Grant for $967,000 from July 2017 through June 2019, extension granted through June 2020
The first working version of Avalon Media System was released in the spring of 2013. Audio content from Indiana University's instance of Variations was migrated to Avalon in the summer of 2016, with the full retirement of IU's Variations occurring in early 2017. The Avalon Media System continues to receive additional features and improvements as part of its development process, and has been adopted by numerous other institutions as the access solution for digital audio and video collections.