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


Samvera is committed to free and open source software. Adopters are members of the Samvera Community who use the software. The Community would not be what it is without adopters. Adoption, and all kinds of contributions big and small, can build toward Partnership.


Samvera Partners are institutions, corporations or other groups that have formally committed to contributing to the Samvera Community. Samvera Partners collectively advance the project and the Community for the benefit of all participants.

The Samvera Partners contribute to groups that coordinate activity from multiple institutions and development efforts. These include the Samvera Board, the Roadmaps Alignment Group, the Core Components Maintenance Group and Samvera’s Interest and Working Groups, as well as teams working on specific projects and solutions such as the Avalon Media System, Hyrax, and Hyku.

Partnership is earned by actively contributing to the Community, as provided in our Bylaws. Partners:


By investing financially in Samvera’s future, Partners help ensure the longevity of the Community and its software.  By contributing to Samvera’s Working and Interest Groups, and by having staff participate in the further development of our code and solutions, Partners protect their own investment in our products and services.

In return for Partner contributions, the Community undertakes to provide a number of specific services.  These include:

In addition, there are less tangible, but potentially important, aspects to Samvera Partnership.  For instance, many of our Partners have been successful in obtaining grants from philanthropic funds to assist and/or enhance the development of their local systems.  An institution’s involvement in a larger community, and a commitment to feeding back developments for the wider benefit, can be seen to support the case for grant funding.  The track record of Samvera Partners in successfully delivering the outputs of their respective grants and contributing those back to community solutions may be seen as a further benefit.


All Samvera Partners are empowered with the responsibility to promote the well-being and development of the Community.  Collectively, the Partners share responsibilities, including, but not limited to:

In January 2020, the Partners decided to adopt a financial Contribution Model to replace the system of voluntary donations that had previously been in place.  The intention is that the increased revenue generated should be used both to fund the Community’s annually recurrent expenditure and our full time Community Manager. Ultimately it is hoped that it will also be possible to hire a Technical Manager.  The minimum level of contribution is determined by the size of the Partner organization.

How to become a Samvera Partner

The steps to become a Samvera Partner are:

  1. Participation: Participate in the Samvera Community in one or more of the many ways described above.

  2. Nomination. Be nominated by an existing Partner.

  3. Invitation. Get invited to be a Partner by the Samvera Board.

  4. Application. Submit a brief letter of intent and the corporate Contributor License Agreement, and sign a Letter of Agreement (LoA) in support of the formal, legal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

  5. Approval. Be voted in by the Samvera Board, and

  6. Announcement. Be welcomed formally to the Community as a Partner.

Partners sign a formal one page Letter of Agreement (LoA) in support of the Samvera Bylaws (PDF). Additionally, 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 have on 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.

How to stop being a Samvera Partner

A Partner may leave by providing written notice to the Samvera Board that they wish to withdraw from the Partner agreement.

Samvera Board

The Samvera Board is drawn from the Samvera Community.  It consists of nine members elected from the Partner institutions.  Each year, three members step down in rotation and elections are held to fill the three seats.  Samvera Board members are elected for three years and may serve no more than two contiguous terms.  No two members may be supported concurrently by the same Partner institution. Board members take on the same responsibilities as Partners and additional responsibilities including, but not limited to:

The Board’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 fulfill these tasks.

How do you become a member of the Samvera Board?

The current membership of the Samvera Board can be found Samvera Board membership.

The current set of Bylaws governing the operation of the Samvera Board can be found here.

Samvera Code Development

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?

Samvera developers have a standing weekly call on Wednesdays 9:00am PDT / Noon EDT.

Some of the things Samvera developers do:

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.

Our code development is overseen and coordinated by a number of groups.  The Roadmaps Alignment Group exists to align the roadmaps of the various Samvera code initiatives where this makes sense. The council comprises the product owners of the core Samvera components and Solution Bundles and of representatives from relevant Interest or Working Groups. The essential elements of the Samvera code are maintained by the Core Components Maintenance Group which is devoted to the ongoing maintenance of identified core components via planned sprints organized in communication with the product owners.  Hyrax, the repository toolkit that underpins other solution bundles has two key working groups: one for coordinating development, and another for its roadmap. Our solution bundles (Hyku and Avalon) each have their own development teams responsive to the needs of, and advised by, their users.