The HOPE Federated Repositories

Federated Archives are conceptually Consumer-oriented. In addition to the Local Community (i.e. the Designated Community served by the archive), a Global Community (i.e. an extended Designated Community) exists which has interests in the holdings of several OAIS archives and has influenced those archives to provide access to their holding via one or more common finding aids.
(Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems, ''Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System,'' 6-4.)

At present social history collections are accessible only in a disconnected way. Localized, idiosyncratic, and uni-lingual catalogs and finding aids often hamper the research efforts of social historians and the general public. Digital humanities tools fostering innovative research on a wide body of material cannot be effectively used on social history content due to the lack shared standards and practices in the domain. Even when shared standards are adopted, disparate ICT infrastructures continue to work against access and usability—creating information silos at the local level.

HOPE is an opportunity for social history institutions to take part in a cooperative effort: institutions from ten countries have agreed to implement a federated repository infrastructure as a short-term goal of the project. To sustain this endeavor, they will:

  1. ensure interoperability by providing metadata in major domain standards, harmonizing key values, and assigning globally unique persistent identifiers to managed content;
  2. coordinate access management through the data supply, discovery, and delivery process; and
  3. embark upon long-term digital object management.

To further pool resources and align practices, several content providers are participating in a common PID web resolver service and a long-term storage solution for digital content. The HOPE project is at its essence an attempt to implement the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model's federated archives infrastructure with a few key shared functional areas. The envisaged benefits are:

  • ''Responsiveness to changing community needs:'' Today's users turn more and more to large-scale discovery services and are less likely to seek out local catalogs to browse and discover content. The ability to disseminate content to selected discovery services based on changing user requirements is key.
  • ''Contextualization of collections:'' Item-level representations of digital objects on discovery services offer a fragmented view of larger collections; such content risks being overlooked or 'orphaned'. This can be prevented if institutions with a similar profile act with a common approach. Clustering content from a single sector may also serve to reveal lost or hidden connections.
  • ''Integration of heterogeneous content:'' Local and proprietary systems do not foster integrated access to collections with a highly multilingual, multi-domain, and transnational profile.
  • *''Preventing data lock-in:'' A flexible and open architecture supports integration and opens the way for open source solutions at the local level. Social history repositories commonly suffer from vendor dependence. Storage and dissemination of metadata in widely used standards outside of local systems also unlocks data for other uses.
  • ''Technological innovation:'' Raising the visibility of social history data requires a unified system of identification, shared vocabularies, common authority records, and a single data model as a common point of reference. Such requirements are supported through innovative technological solutions.
  • ''Sustainability and contingency planning:'' The federated infrastructure builds a solid foundation for institutions lacking resources. It offers potential savings on storage, data curation, and other service provisions.

The following sections analyze the HOPE system in light of the OAIS federated archives model. Novel solutions implemented in the course of the project, like the HOPE PID Service and Persistent Identification or the Secure Storage in the Shared Object Repository (SOR), receive special attention as potential best practice for similar projects. The analysis is framed by a discussion of HOPE's policy infrastructure: its designated community, emerging content policy, IPR policy, and governance.

Related Resources

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. (

HOPE: Heritage of the People's Europe. ''HOPE: Mission, Technical Vision and High-Level Design of the Architecture''. August 2012. (

This section last updated July 2013. Content is no longer maintained.