Samvera is a versatile set of core software components used to build digital repositories for archival institutions, libraries, museums, and other institutions with a mission and a need for data preservation.  That sounds straightforward, but Samvera can be a confusing concept for those new to the community because it is not simply a software bundle. Although Samvera does involve a technology solution, it is not a specific software product, but an open-source suite of components that are supported by a community.  

 The definition of “Samvera” is incomplete without that word “community.” Samvera is not controlled by a single commercial entity. On the contrary, it is developed and maintained by a roster of developers, educators, and librarians from around the world who are also charting the future for this technology.  Samvera was created with the knowledge that most institutions won’t have the resources to build or commission a robust custom repository solution on their own, but also that no single solution will fit the needs of every institution. In light of this, versatility is a foremost tenet of Samvera. Although based on a common core set of components, the mission of Samvera is to create a common functionality that is flexible and can be applied to a variety of use cases.

Those core components at the heart of Samvera are:

  • Fedora – a flexible, modular repository software layer for managing digital objects and storing content.
  • Solr – an Apache indexing software that powers the search feature for digital collections
  • Blacklight – a search user interface that enhances the Solr functionality with facets, browsing ability, and customized object views
  • A Ruby on Rails application – typically Hyrax, that uses a common set of plugins to provide flexible, sustainable functionality

In order to remain flexible and accessible for a broad range of uses, Samvera is necessarily fundamental in its parts.  Specific communities have formed to develop Samvera solution bundles that make implementation and customization more approachable for institutions with limited internal technical resources.  They provide a user interface and a common set of features. These Samvera solutions include:

  • Hyrax – an intermediate solution that is the foundation of most Samvera implementations
  • Hyku – a turn-key solution, based on Hyrax, that is easy to install, customize, and maintain
  • Avalon – a repository solution created especially for audio and video media collections

Whether with a turn-key bundle or through more specialized implementation efforts, Samvera affords a versatile, sustainable, and user-directed digital repository solution for any type of digital archives.

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