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Università degli Studi di Padova

PHAIDRA – Digital collections


What is Phaidra?

Phaidra (Permanent Hosting, Archiving and Indexing of Digital Resources and Assets) is the University of Padova Library System’s platform for long-term archiving of digital collections.
The platform is multidisciplinary and hosts digital objects of various kinds, such as images, text documents, books and videos, mostly resulting from digitization of analogue originals. The different types of cultural heritage represented include ancient books, manuscripts, photographs, educational wall charts, maps, museum objects, archival material, and parchments.

This heterogeneity of assets corresponds to a heterogeneity of origins: the cultural heritage comes from libraries (in particular thanks to the digitization projects promoted by the Library System), museums, archives, centres and offices of the University of Padova, from the universities Ca' Foscari and Iuav of Venice, as well as from other cooperating institutions.

Phaidra is a service of the University's Digital Library that welcomes the cultural heritage digitised by the University's institutional users and cooperating institutions and disseminates it to the scientific community and citizens. It contributes to promoting the activities of the University's Third Cultural and Social Mission, namely the provision of public goods of a social, educational and cultural nature in order to improve the general level of well-being of society.

The third cultural and social mission is one of the strategic objectives of the university, together with the two traditional missions of higher education and research.

What Phaidra offers

  • Long-term archiving of digital objects (pictures, text documents, audio, video and web resources, books, collections, other document types)
  • Description and indexing of digital objects
  • Basic and advanced search facilities
  • Terms of use and licence templates for digital objects
  • A multi-lingual user interface (Italian, English, German)
  • High resolution image viewer
  • Creation and page-by-page viewing of digitised books
  • Sharing of objects and collections via other sites (departmental sites, virtual exhibitions…)
  • User guides and tools

Who can use Phaidra?

Anybody can carry out searches and browse the digital collections archived on the platform, and unless otherwise indicated, anyone can view and download the digital objects themselves.
Archiving digital objects is currently reserved for trained staff and users connected to the University of Padova, as well as authorised users from external institutions. To upload objects, users must first contact the Library Helpline at the University of Padova Library System to confirm they accept the terms of use, and to set up a user account.

Why use Phaidra?

  • Every object uploaded to the Phaidra platform has a permanent link and persistent identifier (on the registry), which can be used for citations.
  • Objects and digital collections archived on Phaidra are available to a huge user base, meaning they can be used more extensively and more effectively.
  • Objects of various formats from multiple sources can be organised in virtual collections and relational links can be set up between different objects.
  • Each object can also be assigned separate licences for specific uses, and access to an object can be limited to consulting the relative metadata and viewing a thumbnail preview.
  • The platform complies with the European Commission’s FAIR criteria (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable), which are laid out in the Guidelines on FAIR Data Management in Horizon 2020 (PDF)
  • It can easily be configured to comply with Data Management Plans.
  • With comprehensive mapping of object metadata to the Dublin Core profile, it offers excellent interoperability with other platforms, such as Europeana.
  • It is CoreTrustSeal certified.

Help with using Phaidra

Phaidra offers a selection of support tools to make the processes of searching, navigating and uploading objects easier and more accessible:

  • A help page including an introduction to the user interface, and instructions on navigating,
  • A Ask the Library Helpline service, provided by the University of Padova Library Service
  • Printable user guides
  • Training seminars
  • One-on-one assistance

Phaidra timeline

The project first sees the light of day at the University of Vienna in 2008 (

In a meeting of 23 February 2010, the Technical and Scientific Committee of the University of Padova Library System commits to an agreement with the University of Vienna for the former’s use of the Phaidra system and its contribution to the platform’s development (see minutes of meeting no. 2/2010).

Between 2012 and 2013, as part of an exchange agreement under the European-wide Linked Heritage project a number of Phaidra collections are published on the Europeana platform.

In 2014, the Ca’ Foscari University and Università Iuav in Venice begin publishing digital collections on the Padua-based system.

In 2016, the University of Padova Library System becomes part of the COAR Federation, an international network of bodies responsible for managing open-access digital repositories of academic literature on behalf of institutions.

Since 2019 Phaidra is a CoreTrustSeal certified repository, which guarantees the reliability and long-term sharing of data, in compliance with the standards for digital preservation.

In 2019 Phaidra has been selected with other repositories to test innovative developments in the field of FAIR principles in the context of the European FAIRsFAIR project, in particular to participate in the Support for the “FAIRification” of repositories and improvement of FAIRness and interoperability of data.

Phaidra is used by a number of institutions internationally. Information about these partners is available at

Phaidra timeline Phaidra timeline at the University of Padova.

Organisational structure

Phaidra staff is composed of librarians and IT staff of the Digital Library Unit and allows maintenance and development of Phaidra. Moreover, it supports the Central Libraries and the Library Clusters in the drafting of digitisation projects and provides assistance and advice for the archiving of digital objects in Phaidra to the University of Padova Units and to other cooperating institutions outside the University.

The staff and the proponents of a digitization project interact in all the project phases, from the project proposal to the analysis of the activities, from the start-up phase of the project to its completion with the publication in Phaidra.

The partnership between the universities of Padova and Vienna is carried out through the following meetings and exchange opportunities:

  • Phaidra Annual meeting, composed of all Phaidra partners, aims to discuss the future development of Phaidra. All Phaidra partners are invited to present their projects and their proposals for the system improvement. The meetings take place in a location that can vary from time to time.
    Phaidra Annual meeting has replaced Phaidra Steering Committee since 2018.
  • Technical meetings, involving library and IT professionals, aimed at introducing and progressing operational and developmental issues in relation to the platform.
  • Erasmus Staff Mobility for Training: the exchange program is used in a systematic way for on-the-job training of the personnel of the two universities.

The partnership between the University of Padua and the Ca’ Foscari and IUAV universities in Venice comprises the sharing of the Phaidra platform through the publication of the digital collections in the Padua installation.


Phaidra's metadata is based on the Universität Wien metadata model (UWmetadata in abbreviated form). It is the result of the expansion of the standard Learning Object Metadata, LOM, (1484.12.1-2002 IEEE Standard for Learning Object Metadata) and of the fusional combination of categories and derived or customized elements of different metadata schemes, placing this model among the examples of LOM application profiles.

UWmetadata is functional to the representation of the contents hosted in the repository as well as to the conversion and integration of specific metadata profiles, such as, for example, ICCD museum standards, MARC bibliographic metadata, or schemes such as Dublin Core, MODS, etc.

Phaidra uses the Dublin Core metadata, generated by UWmetadata, both for the Web visualization of its objects and for the publication and display of the metadata in the OAI Phaidra Data Provider.

In collaboration with the University of Vienna, the definition of the new RDF model of Phaidra is currently underway.


University of Vienna Metadata – UWmetadata
PHAIDRA_DC Metadata Element Set
Phaidra Linked Data Repository
Bellotto A., Bettella C. (2019) Metadata as Semantic Palimpsests: The Case of PHAIDRA@unipd. In: Manghi P., Candela L., Silvello G. (eds) Digital Libraries: Supporting Open Science. IRCDL 2019. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol. 988. Springer, Cham.

Technical Details

Phaidra is based on the open-source software Fedora, a modular architecture for managing digital resources that enables the creation of digital archives and libraries for the purposes of access and conservation. It is also used to allow specialist access to large digital collections of historical and cultural material, as well as scientific data.

L'ambiente digitale di Phaidra The Phaidra digital environment (Source: I dati della ricerca in ambito umanistico, symposium held in Padua, 24 November 2016).

Based on Fedora, Tomcat, Apache and MySQL open-source software.
Web interface: various applications written in Perl using the MVC Catalyst framework.
REST API written in Perl using the Mojolicious framework.
IIIF/IIP image viewer: IIPImage software.

OAI-PMH baseurl:
REST API documentation:
IIIF endopoint:

Fedora offers LDAP authentication and XAMCL authorisations for granular management of permissions.

Phaidra Core
Based on Perl and Java APIs, with the option of carrying out full-text searches and searching metadata using Lucene technologies including the Solr platform.
Interface is fully localised in English, German and Italian.
Uses UTF-8. Access rights can be managed at user, group and institution level. Limit to content access can be set indefinitely, or for a set period of time.
The following relationship types can be set up between objects: same category, belong to same collection, recto-verso, alternative versions.
Phaidra Github Repository

Phaidra is certified

Partnerships and cooperations

Phaidra's entries