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CONTENTdm is a digital collection management system
Function:Preservation System
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CONTENTdm is a software solution that handles the storage, management, and delivery of library digital collection to the web by providing access to web-based digital collection tool where data and digital items are prepared in large batches, a server where data and images are stored and can be edited, a Web-based discovery interface optimized for customization, self-service tool to upload the metadata of your digital content to WorldCat using the Digital Collection Gateway, and integration with OCLC products for building collections with cataloging workflows, as well as the option of harvesting from the Web sites and adding long-term preservation. Developed by OCLC. A hosted version is available.



Licensing and cost[edit]

CONTENTdm uses fee-based licenses for both the software and the hosting service; a range of optional services and tools is available as well. Pricing is unclear on the OCLC website.  

Development activity[edit]

CONTENTdm version 6.9 was released in November 2014. OCLC is a self-funded not-for-profit organisation; CONTENTdm is one of their core services, receiving ongoing development and support.

Platform and interoperability[edit]

CONTENTdm Server runs on IIS with Windows 2008 or Apache with Linux (requires PHP 5.3). The CONTENTdm website has similar requirements. The software was designed to integrate with other OCLC products, including Connexion and Web Harvester. The CONTENTdm Project Client requires the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 or higher running on Windows P SP2 or later. CONTENTdm offers an API to allow users to customise their workflows and extend website functionality.

Functional notes[edit]

Some licenses include an OCR Extension to generate full-text transcripts, and an Image Rights tool to designate ownership of items in the collection. The customisable web access platform integrates with OCLC’s WorldCat to promote greater discoverability. Collections can be stored on distributed drives, enabling collaboration between organisations.

Documentation and user support[edit]

Email- and telephone-based user support is included in the licensing fee. Users are also granted access to a User Support Center with installation guides, Help files, tutorials and a Support FAQ. The Center also supports forums and blogs for the CONTENTdm community.


CONTENTdm provides a web-based administration interface, and includes number of options for managing and adding content to collections. For its latest iteration, extensive usability testing was conducted as part of a user-centered design approach.

Expertise required[edit]

If an organisation wishes to host its own server, installation and configuration will require system administration knowledge.

Standards compliance[edit]

CONTENTdm heavily advertises its standards compliance in a number of arenas: supporting Unicode for character display; offering Dublin Core, VRA Core, and METS/ALTO for metadata assignment; serving as an OAI repository for those who wish to make their metadata available for harvesting; and supporting Z39.50 for search and retrieval.

Influence and take-up[edit]

The CONTENTdm website advertises use by over 2,000 organizations, including public libraries, academic libraries, historical societies, and museums.

User Experiences[edit]

Development Activity[edit]