A Cookbook of Methods for Using CONTENTdm APIs

Andrew Bullen
Illinois State Library

CONTENTdm has a number of useful APIs for directly accessing information contained  in its indexes and files. This site is intended as a practical reference guide to using many—though not all—of these APIs. The complete list of APIs can be found on the CONTENTdm support site (

These programs use PHP.


The test data I use is the data from the Illinois Digital Archives collection (, images and metadata contributed by institutions all across Illinois. Illinois Digital Archives is a service of the Illinois State Library and, especially, the office of Jesse White, Secretary of State and State Librarian.

All of these APIs can be used to display records as a JSON feed instead of an XML one; I prefer to work with XML records, hence the following code.

All of these programs can be found on GitHub at

Please tinker with the code, extending and improving it. Perhaps you might want to contribute it back to this site. Together, we can create the code that makes the best use of CONTENTdm’s APIs.