As the seasons begin to change, the LYRASIS Services team is ramping up focus on hosted video services and work begins with a group of institutions with an interest and need to explore cloud-based solutions for video collections. Specifically, the team will be undertaking two important pilots that will determine how to move forward with and for the LYRASIS community. This will include assessing the unique needs, costs involved, marketplace demands, and more in order to provide solutions and services for multimedia content. In a survey of the library community conducted in the fall of 2016, the many challenges surrounding audio and video streaming were identified as a key gap in existing technologies. LYRASIS has taken action to begin to address this unmet need in the community. Of critical importance during the pilots outlined below is testing network bandwidth and processing power for efficient transfer and administration of large video files, providing a platform that will allow for sophisticated access policies, and that can scale to stream large multimedia collections.
For several hosted Islandora clients, the month of September will be dedicated to testing video use cases in their respective repositories via the Islandora video solution pack, an open source add-on for the Islandora repository software. This add-on enables users to not only store and display video content in their repository, it also automatically creates a streamable version of each file that is uploaded into the repository while preserving the original master file. This feature, called derivative generation, is a key timesaving benefit for many use cases surrounding video collections. Additionally, the video solution pack provides a viewer for content that gives users the same functionality as YouTube or other public streaming services. As with all other Islandora content, multimedia files can be restricted so that only specific individuals or groups of users can access them and robust metadata can be added to the items as well.
LYRASIS is partnering with the Coastal Carolina University, the Niels Bohr Library and Archives of the American Institute of Physics, and the Phi Gamma Delta organization who are testing their specific use cases with the Islandora video solution pack. Each institution has unique needs regarding video, such as providing access to the organization’s historical archival video collections, compiling oral history collections, and restricting access to sensitive materials to internal staff only. More technical details about the video solution pack can be found at here.
The second multimedia initiative underway in the LYRASIS hosted services arena is the Avalon pilot, a partnership with Northwestern University and Indiana University as part of an IMLS grant. During the pilot, LYRASIS is working with a motivated group of institutions who have specific needs surrounding their multimedia collections but do not have the ability to install and run the open source Avalon software locally. Avalon, a robust multimedia management platform, enables users to upload video and audio files of various formats from which it will generate three access versions: low, medium, and high resolution. These are then made available in a feature-rich viewer where end users can choose the quality of the file to view, skip through the video, etc. Avalon also offers other sophisticated administrative features for creating chapters or segments in videos (essentially bookmarks) and integrating with various integrated library, learning management, and local authentication/authorization systems. These integrations are a key unmet need that was identified in the community survey last fall and the LYRASIS team is excited to be a key partner working toward a solution.
The LYRASIS membership is broad and diverse and this allows a scope of Avalon pilot participants that include the DC Public Library, Emerson College, Houston Public Library, Oberlin College, the University of Houston, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and the University of the Arts. Each of these institutions bring a unique use case that will be exercised through the course of the pilot. A few key highlights from the range of Avalon use cases being tested include:
- Using Avalon to provide very granular permissions to media files;
- Using Avalon to store and provide access to a wide range of multimedia material in a single, cohesive, and user-friendly interface; and
- Using Avalon as an audio reserve repository for a large LP collection.
As the pilot partners conduct their testing, the LYRASIS technical team will simultaneously be exploring deploying the software in a hosted, cloud-based environment, monitoring technical aspects of the infrastructure such as file transcoding, streaming, bandwidth utilization, and also conducting a comparison of several cloud-based infrastructures. The LYRASIS team will work collaboratively with the pilot partners in order to better understand the functional needs around video as well as exploring options for continuing to host Avalon beyond the pilot time period. To learn more about the Avalon project visit http://avalonmediasystem.org.
Look for more updates here on this blog over the next few months that will provide a summary of the two pilots as well as outcomes, key learnings, and next steps. If you have any questions about either pilot, please contact Carissa Egan, Hosting Services Brand Manager.