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Library Partners With IU on Mellon Grant

Supports management and access to large collections of digital audio and video materials


  • Money supports library platform that makes it easier to access digital materials
  • System transforms how complex digital content is used for research and teaching
  • Digitized video and audio critical for scholars and researchers
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University Library has partnered with Indiana University (IU), which received a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support continued development of the Avalon Media System.

Avalon is a software product that helps libraries manage, deliver and improve access to large collections of digitized audio and video used for research and teaching. 

The national Avalon community, led by the libraries of Northwestern and Indiana University-Bloomington, is made up of education, media and open-technology institutions. Though currently a grant-funded effort between Northwestern and IU, supporters are working to make the open source system sustainable through community development. 

Online access to video and audio collections is growing more essential to scholarship, making a resource such as Avalon increasingly critical, Northwestern University Library Dean Sara Pritchard said. 

“The Avalon platform is transforming the way we produce, retain and use the complex digital content that is needed to integrate audio, video and related materials in university teaching and learning," Pritchard said.

The current grant will focus on making Avalon more functional and user friendly, including supporting studies that explore how scholars use audio and video in their research. A business model will be developed to keep the system sustainable and offer more flexible options for institutions that prefer using cloud-based rather than locally hosted software.

At Northwestern, the locally customized and branded version of Avalon is called the Audio + Video Repository (AVR), which went live in July of 2014.  Thanks to AVR, digitized audio and video collections are available for the first time from Northwestern’s unique holdings. Currently two publicly accessible collections from the Music Library and University Archives can be found at media.northwestern.edu

Northwestern and Indiana University have successfully collaborated to release three major versions of Avalon since the development project began in October 2011, with funding from a three-year, $948,000 National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The project has also been buoyed by advice and support from 10 additional partner institutions.

Avalon partially grew out of the Variations Project, one of the world’s first digital music libraries, developed initially in the mid-1990s at Indiana University.

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