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One Body, Many Heads: Media Preservation and Access Through Project Hydra

Title (author1): 
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WGBH Educational Foundation
Other authors: 
Jon Dunn, Hannah Frost, Stefan Elnabl
Presentation type: 
panel session
1 Oct Thursday
Start time: 
1 530
Grand Auditorium

As audiovisual archivists, we all face the challenge of managing and preserving our digital media files. Institutions facing this challenge all need systems to do basically the same thing – ingest, store, manage, retrieve, preserve. Perhaps we should work together to develop systems that meet our needs.
Digital asset management of audiovisual material has been an ongoing challenge for media archivists in the preservation and access of their digital collections. While much focus is placed on open source tools and software applications, this panel will showcase something new or obscure to many regular attendees: an open collaborative technological framework for building systems that manage, preserve, and provide access to audiovisual media. Project Hydra ( is an exciting collaboration of archivists, librarians, and developers building and using a community-developed open source application framework to create new and open systems that manage, preserve, and provide access to digital content, based on the Fedora digital repository platform. This panel will showcase three Hydra influenced open source projects from public broadcaster WGBH, Indiana University Libraries, Stanford University Libraries, and Northwestern University Library. From unique audiovisual preservation systems to cataloguing and management solutions, representatives will discuss their projects, how their work meets the growing demands of audiovisual preservation and access, and the experience of developing for the open source community.

The speakers will discuss Hydra's philosophy and provide examples of innovative work done by Hydra partners throughout the world.
WGBH will share their development of an audiovisual preservation repository system called HydraDAM (, as well as their effort to migrate their Open Vault public access website ( Indiana University and Northwestern University will discuss Avalon Media System (, an open source software system for managing and providing online access to audiovisual media. Stanford will describe its strategic planning effort to tackle challenges in providing access to collections of media content with a range of copyright, privacy, and licensing concerns. The result of this effort indicates that an open source solution, and Hydra in particular, is best suited to enable controlled access to digital media in library and archival collections. Stanford will explain how it is using Hydra and Avalon to preserve and provide access to a large collection of video oral histories in an international partnership with the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia.
WGBH and Indiana University will also discuss their recent collaboration to further develop HydraDAM. This new version, called HydraDAM2, will be based on the most recent version of Fedora (Fedora 4), will support storage of very large media files on multiple backend storage architectures, will explore the use of RDF for metadata representation, and will be able to integrate with Avalon to provide online access to preserved media. Like its predecessor, HydraDAM2 will be released as open source and can be used and shared freely among cultural institutions, including libraries, archives, universities and public broadcasters.