This week, from October 3rd to October 6th, Boston Public Library hosted the Hydra Connect 2016 conference. Project Hydra is a repository solution managing components involved in storing and providing access to digital content. Project Hydra can be described in broad terms as the confluence of community and collaboration made manifest in the development of open source software, and the conference brought together close to 200 people from institutions across the globe to connect. Seven people attended from Yale Library, Mike Friscia, Anju Meenattoor, Lakeisha Robinson, George Ouellette, Youn Noh, Osman Din, and Eric James.
The conference was organized as workshops on Monday, a plenary session Tuesday morning, a poster session Tuesday afternoon, multi-tracked presentations/panels/lightning talks Wednesday, and breakout sessions Thursday. Topics were varied but commonly themed. There was discussion of service management and project management taking into consideration issues such as adoption, migration, and upgrade paths. There was a focus on the learning, sharing and best practices of the technology itself – the software stack, infrastructure, deployment, and monitoring. Much of the presentation centered around the community efforts driving base applications such as the Sufia institutional repository, the Avalon AV system, and the Fedora repository. Content specific challenges were addressed from both an an abstract modeling perspective to the unique considerations of GIS assets, newspapers, images, AV materials, and research data, through frameworks such as the PCDM/hydra works and the IIIF specifications.
The enthusiasm was palpable and the project hydra motto “if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together” was evident, but in many ways there what prevailed was a constant tension between customization and consolidation – the need for diverse institutions to implement a variety of special features while simultaneously developing towards an easily maintainable common core. In any case the takeaways from the conference will influence the direction of services provided by the Yale Library longterm, from the digital collections interface FindIT, the Yale instance of the AV Avalon Platform, to the unified search interface Quicksearch.