CONTENTdm is a digital collection management system consisting of a server on which content is stored, a web-based content discovery interface and tools to upload and manage the content.  CONTENTdm also offers a hosting service, whereby users store materials on OCLC servers.



Licensing and cost

CONTENTdm uses fee-based licenses for both the software and the hosting service; a range of optional services and tools is available as well. There are four levels of software licence, each with different limits on the number of digital items and allowed number of installations. Pricing is not, however, specified on the OCLC website. A free 60-day evaluation of the hosted service is available.

Development activity

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

CONTENTdm Server runs on IIS versions 7 or 7.5 (on 64-bit Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2) and Apache with PHP 5.3 (on 64-bit Linux with the version 2.6 kernel). 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 Windows Vista or Windows 7, plus Adobe Reader.

CONTENTdm offers an API to allow users to customise their workflows, extend website functionality, and incorporate collections into sites managed by Drupal, Wordpress or other systems.

Functional notes

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

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

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

Standards compliance

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

The CONTENTdm website advertises use by over 2,000 organizations, including public libraries, academic libraries, historical societies, and museums. The CONTENTdm newsfeed includes examples of the system being used.

Last reviewed: 
24 November, 2014