Applications and demos

Hydra is being used in a wide range of applications to support a variety of use cases:

Links below will take you to pages that describe the work of the various Hydra partners and which provide further links to the Hydra sites themselves (where these are publicly accessible) and/or to screencasts demonstrating their use.  At the foot of our “Community > Partners and More” page we list a number of other non-partner Hydra users and implementations.


The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Stanford University and DuraSpace are partnering to extend the existing Hydra project codebase and its vibrant and growing community to build, bundle, and promote a feature-rich, robust, flexible digital repository that is easy to install, configure, and maintain.

This next-generation repository solution — “Hydra-in-a-Box” — will work for institutions large and small, incorporating the capabilities and affordances to support networked resources and services in a shared, sustainable, national platform. The overall intent is to develop a digital collections platform that is not just “on the web,” but “of the web.”

With funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the 30-month collaborative project kicked off in May 2015; product design and software development are now underway.  More details at the Hydra-in-a-Box web pages.

Institutional repositories

Institutional repositoriesHydra is being used as the basis for a number of institutional repositories (IRs) each of which contains a range of content types.  The University of Hull has one such containing ETDs, past examination papers, learning materials, journal articles, small datasets and more; the University of Virginia has another containing ETDs, journal articles and datasets.  These IRs exploit the flexibility of Hydra to implement flexible workflows for deposit and flexible display to provide the end-user with different page layouts and content depending on the type of material retrieved.

Image collections

Image collectionsNorthwestern University is using Hydra to develop its digital image library (DIL).  As well as providing access to a collection of images, the Hydra head allows users to manipulate them (crop, rotate, etc) and to store the derivatives in various ways – for instance to build up a particular personal collection to use in a lecture series.

Media libraries

Media LibrariesThe Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is using a Hydra head to manage the administration and workflow required to develop a repository containing its large collection of historical video recordings.  At present the majority of these are available to view only on the premises, but the Museum has provided a screencast showing how the process works. WGBH uses Hydra as part of its ‘Open Vault’ website.  The Avalon Media System (Northwestern and Indiana Universities) is a collaborative Hydra-based project for managing large collections of digital video and audio files.

Archives and special collections

Archives & Special CollectionsThe particular needs of archivists and curators of special collections are being considered at a number of the partner universities and at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Hydra uses Fedora as its repository software and is thus well placed to be used in a preservation environment.

Electronic Theses and Dissertations

ETDsA number of the Hydra partners have developed heads to deal with the deposit and retrieval of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs).  Stanford and Virginia have integrated their solutions with wider University systems, Hull have taken a more lightweight approach.  In all cases the Hydra head allows the ETDs to be easily deposited to the local repository.

Workflow and administration

WorkflowMany Hydra installations have been implemented to provide a deposit workflow as well as discovery and delivery of the repository content.  However Stanford have developed a Hydra head specifically to provide an administrative view over their repository and able to report on the status of the items contained there.  This is a powerful tool providing functionality for repository administrators.  A number of other partners are developing workflows with a particular emphasis on digitization and preservation.


ExhibitsThe University of Notre Dame have used Hydra in conjunction with a separate Blacklight installation to provide the management for a digital exhibit site.  The Seaside Research Portal provides an in-depth research environment around the town of Seaside in Florida, “the first new urban community”.  Stanford University has built a Blacklight plugin called “Spotlight!” which is a sophisticated Exhibit development and management tool

(Small) data

Small dataMany of the Hydra partners have an interest in curating small datasets (which is to say datasets measured in megabytes rather than gigabytes or terabytes).  The Universities of Hull and Virginia have both made provision for datasets in their Hydra heads and are providing specialist capability in the way they make these available to end-users.