[T]he autonomy dimension is a key one for interacting archives, determining the ease with which each can effect changes in the nature of the association and the impact/penalty to each recovering full autonomy.
(Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems, ''Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System,'' 6-9.)
Whether because of their cultural, economic, or organizational context, social history institutions can have difficulties meeting common policy requirements. Their autonomy remains paramount. Open Archival Information System (OAIS) federated archives can frame membership in such a way that member repositories can leave without notice or impact. In such a 'free association', membership would rest on technical and administrative compliance alone, and failure to comply would mean that a member was opting to leave the association. On the other hand, such an association works against the establishment of common the standards and protocols which underpin the seamless discovery-to-delivery experience.
During the first two years of the project, it has become clear that the permanence of the HOPE federation cannot be guaranteed unless the association is re-negotiated and the autonomy of content providers restrained. The HOPE Consortium is the group of content providers in the HOPE project who have made contractual commitments related to the governance structure of the project, the rights and obligations of participants, licenses on the results of the project, and dispute resolution within the federation. The agreement will terminate when the EU funded project ends. As a result IALHI, a loose association of social history institutions that has functioned for more than forty years, has decided to establish the IALHI Foundation. The foundation aims to set up an organizational structure to foster the long-term objectives of HOPE, including the maintenance and expansion of the HOPE services and Best Practice Network. While content providers are ultimately responsible for the quality, accessibility, and longevity of the HOPE Social History Resource, the foundation can shoulder some of the burden by setting in place policies and procedures in compliance with Trusted Digital Repository audit criteria to ensure stability and trustworthiness in the continued operations. The foundation will be legally entitled to interpret the evolving needs of the target community and content providers; to develop relevant practices and services; and to convey the HOPE vision and its link to the social history domain. As such, it will serve as a backbone of HOPE's future efforts.