* CONTENTdm allows us to display the Library's digitized historical materials on a single platform. The public interface is fairly easy to use and allows visitors to view digital objects, download web-quality copies, share them on social media and comment (providing us with crowd-sourced corrections and additional information. On the administrative side, uploading new objects is relatively easy through the CONTENTdm client, which also allows corrections (including batch corrections). Minor corrections can also be made through the web administrative interface.
* CONTENTdm's controlled vocabulary makes it possible to standardize search terms across multiple collections.
* OCLC offers both hosted and self-hosted options. We took advantage of hosting to free up our IT staff
* The product is marketed as being usable out of the box, but we found that extensive configuration and customization was necessary to achieve the look and functionality we wanted. One of our goals was to present different types of materials or thematically related materials such as our wine-related photographs or Sonoma County Fair-related materials as branded collections; CONTENTdm allows any number of separate collections, but at the cost of having to manage each collection separately. While some institutions have created virtual branded collections, we don't currently have the in-house expertise to do the coding required and as a result, managing materials split up across multiple collections has become problematic.
* Because we make use of controlled vocabularies, making corrections via the web administrative interface when there are multiple unrecognized terms in a record is difficult.
* Ongoing costs are a big consideration for us. We are currently at the mid-level for both number of objects and for storage size. Although we have not added new objects as rapidly as expected, we will need to evaluate our continued use of CONTENTdm when we get closer to the higher license level because our costs will double at that point.
* We have not made use of the included streaming audio and video capabilities because we haven't been able to make them work to our satisfaction. We have instead used scripts to stream those media from external sources.
* The hosted option doesn't allow direct management of uploaded design and functional assets such as website images, scripts and custom pages, so old assets cannot be deleted (this doesn't affect the use of newly uploaded assets)
The library has an extensive historical photograph collection (40K+ images), as well as other digitized historical materials such as books, video and audio that we wanted to bring together on a single, attractive and easy to use platform. Many -- though not all -- of the images were available through the library's catalog, but only as thumbnails displayed through some non-standard coding and mixed in with records from the library's books, DVDs, audiobooks, etc. Migrating them to CONTENTdm in 2012 allowed us to focus on the digitized materials (branded as the Sonoma Heritage Collections -- http://heritage.sonomalibrary.org/cdm/) and also expose them to search engines. The web exposure -- along with more visibility due to the library's new website that highlights the Heritage Collections -- has resulted in a significant rise in visitors viewing our digitized materials. Another benefit is that we've been able to collaborate with local historical societies and other organizations to host their materials on the site. This benefits all parties by creating a bigger pool of related materials that can add context to individual items and by enabling the small organizations a web presence and professional management of their digital objects.