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From its inception as Hydra, Samvera has been designed to provide a generalizable, portable framework that would meet the needs not only of the three original institutions, but also those of a wider community. Originating as a multi-institutional project spanning three universities (Hull, Stanford and Virginia), and with support from Fedora Commons, Samvera has since expanded to include like-minded institutions with similar needs, technical infrastructures and complementary systems.

Community Structure and Responsibilities

At the heart of the Samvera Community are the Samvera Partners, those who both use the software and contribute to the Samvera effort overall. As free and open source software, the community also includes Adopters, those who use the software but don't necessarily contribute back to the collaboration.

The Samvera Partners include groups that coordinate effort across multiple institutions and development efforts (or heads). These include the Steering Group and the Committers' Group, as well as project-specific teams that focus on particular heads such as Avalon or Hyrax.

Samvera Partners are individuals, institutions, corporations or other groups that have formally committed to contributing to the Samvera community; they not only use the Samvera technical framework, but also add to it in at least one of many ways: code, analysis, design, support, funding, or other resources. Samvera Partners collectively advance the project and the community for the benefit of all participants.

Partners get to attend Samvera Partner meetings, provide input on the community and technical direction, and represent Samvera to the broader community.  In addition, Samvera Partners are the first to be notified of any known security issues and fixes, ahead of the information being made public.

How do you become a Samvera Partner

The steps are:

  1. be nominated by an existing Partner
  2. get invited to join by the Steering Group 
  3. submit a brief letter of intent (see below), a one page letter of agreement (see below) and a corporate Contributor Licensing Agreement
  4. be voted in by the Steering Group, and
  5. be welcomed formally to the Community as a Partner (see below)

How do you stop being a Samvera partner?

  • get voted out by a majority of all current Partners, or
  • notify the Samvera Steering Group that you wish to withdraw from your partner agreement

Partners sign a formal one page Letter of Agreement (LoA) in support of the formal, legal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Steering Group in April 2012, and each Partner is asked at the time of joining the group to write a brief letter of intent indicating why they want to become a Samvera Partner and what they intend to contribute to the Community. (Note that we post these letters publicly in the wiki.)  Partners are also required to file a corporate Contributor License Agreement (see Samvera Community Intellectual Property Licensing and Ownership page) to ensure that the Community can accept code and other intellectual contributions from the Partner institution. A composite document comprising the 2012 MoU, amendments made to it in 2018 to reflect the name change from Hydra to Samvera, a version of the MoU showing the effect of these amendments, and a blank Letter of Agreement can be found here.

Roles and responsibilities

All Samvera Partners

All Samvera Partners, from the founding partners through to the newest additions, have a responsibility to promote the well-being and development of the Community.  Collectively, the partners share responsibilities including, but not limited to:

  • Community maintenance and growth
  • Collaborative roadmapping (technical & community)
  • Samvera application development
  • Code contribution to the “technical core”
  • Governance of the “technical core”
  • Maintenance of previously contributed Samvera components
  • Design contribution: UI's, API's, data models, et al. 
  • Documentation and sharing of contributions
  • Community infrastructure provisioning & support (Bug trackers, Continuous Integration Servers, Web site, Wiki, etc.)
  • Maintenance of the official Samvera website
  • Resource coordination
  • Recruiting
  • Community advocacy (e.g., public speaking, writing articles)
  • Participation and leadership in "Interest Groups" or "Working Groups" within the Samvera Community
  • Meeting organization & planning
  • Determining Community strategy

Samvera Steering Group

The Samvera Steering Group is drawn from the Samvera Community.  Steering Group members take on the same responsibilities as Partners and additional responsibilities including, but not limited to:

  • Deciding what becomes official Samvera components
  • Managing the licensing of Samvera code components
  • Managing Samvera's legal records
  • Seeding / supporting the development of "Interest Groups" or "Working Groups" within the Samvera community
  • Ensuring the quality of provision and support the Community infrastructure
  • Ensuring the quality of Samvera meetings
  • Updating Samvera's governance structure as necessary
  • Formally admitting new Samvera Partners
  • Formally accepting new Steering Group members
  • Appointing individuals who have institutional authority to act on behalf of that member institution/entity
  • Managing the Samvera brand and official Community communications
  • Ensuring the quality of the official Samvera website
  • Formally representing the Samvera Community to funding agencies and (possible) commercial partners

Essentially, then, the Steering Group's role is stewardship and central administration of the Community; they are responsible for helping create the structures to see that critical tasks are addressed, and backstopping the Partners' group in case it doesn't fulfil these tasks. So, such things as:

  • creating decision making structures
  • decision making when decisions are not otherwise being made
  • backstopping partners when issues go unaddressed
  • delicate issues handling
  • stewardship and caretaking of the Community as a whole
  • responsibility for providing continuity of the Community

How do you become a member of the Samvera Steering Group?

  •  The Steering Group periodically reviews and adjusts its membership to reflect growth and evolution in the Samvera Community.

The current membership of the Samvera Steering Group can be found Samvera Steering Group membership.

In October 2014, the Steering Group adopted a set of Samvera Steering Group Bylaws - October 2014.

Samvera Developers

Anyone is welcome to use, improve, and hack on the Samvera codebase -- the code is open source!  

How do you become a member of the Samvera developer community?

  • Join the samvera-tech group and mailing list listed on our Get In Touch page
  • Join the #dev channel on the Samvera slack organization - find instructions on the Get In Touch page
  • Submit code to the Community (see guidelines), contribute resources to the group, and engage in the technical development process.

The developers who have demonstrated ongoing interest in Samvera have a standing weekly call.

Some of the things Samvera developers do:

  • Define technical architecture
  • Coordinate development of common functionality
  • Implement data and content Models
  • Define and enforce development practices
  • Code development
  • Testing
  • Integration and release
  • Developer and deployment documentation
  • Developer and Sys Admin training

All Samvera code is distributed under an open source license (Apache 2.0 as of 2013), and Contributor License Agreements (CLA's) based on the Apache Foundation CLA's are required from contributors before their code can be added to the Community's code base. See the  Samvera Community Intellectual Property Licensing and Ownership page for more details.


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