Central to the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model is the designated user community. This community must be clearly defined before the submission of content, and the content as represented should be understandable to the community. HOPE has defined a global designated community made up of the following user communities:
- ''Social history researchers and curators'' currently using the institutional web sites and online services. This is, simply put, the aggregation of the designated communities of the individual HOPE content providers and forms an inner circle of highly specialized professional researchers already attached to the social history institutions and activities through their routine services and focused research projects. They also have the most interest in long-term access.
- ''Professional researchers'' who visit the [[Glossary#Social_History_Portal|Social History Portal]] to get informed and browse social history repositories. These are researchers connected to HOPE through its umbrella institution IALHI and are composed of IALHI members and their local communities. Long-term access is also important to this group.
- ''Informed European citizens'' using Europeana for discovery purposes. This community of citizens interested in European cultural heritage has been identified and is currently served by Europeana.
- ''Global users'' already using of social platforms like Flickr, Youtube etc.
This has been the biggest challenge facing social history institutions over recent years. The specialist users of the past had developed skills to navigate archival finding aids and library catalogs and had familiarized themselves with domain terminology. Current users are often unable to interpret data through traditional representational structures and forms. They struggle when searching in hierarchical or complex finding aids and rarely take advantage of enhanced search functionality. In order to target specialist users while also serving broader community needs, HOPE has opted to populate various discovery services, ranging from network sites (e.g. Social History Portal), to broad-based portals (e.g. Europeana), to globally-known social sites.
Sites will be populated with HOPE metadata, including (non-copyrighted) descriptive metadata and previews, using various internet protocols. Users locating metadata and corresponding previews will be linked through discovery services back to local sites providing richer content description and contextualization as well as the digital object itself, which will be stored and managed through a HOPE-compliant repository. Once a user identifies an item of interest, the digital object may be downloaded and used in the end user's own processing environment, where it may be annotated, edited, mined, used for mash-ups, etc. The HOPE federated repositories do not offer services to individual users beyond the discovery-to-delivery path itself. The discovery-to-delivery path must be supported by unambiguous persisted references to HOPE collections and digital objects on local sites. In their role as curators, content providers must guarantee the authenticity and integrity of the digital content provided online.
HOPE guides content providers in adapting their content provision to various discovery services. HOPE allows content providers to make conscious decisions about which content is pushed/pulled to each service. HOPE's Content Provider Dissemination Profiles express in machine-readable form each institution's policies to target specific content to a target user group through a particular service or set of services.
Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems. ''Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System''. CCSDS 650.0-M-2 Magenta Book. Washington D.C.: NASA, 2012. (https://public.ccsds.org/pubs/650x0m2.pdf)