Introduction to libraries

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A library is a location on a site where you can create, collect, update, and manage files with team members. Each library displays a list of files and key information about the files, which helps people to use the files to work together.

You can customize libraries in several ways. You can control how documents are viewed, tracked, managed, and created. You can track versions, including how many and which type of versions, and you can limit who can see documents before they are approved.

You can choose from several types of libraries, depending on the types of files that you want to store and how you plan to use them.

The Shared Documents library is created for you when Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services creates a new site. You can start using this library right away, customize it, or create other libraries.

Here are some ways to work with libraries and make them more useful for your group:

  • Create and manage views     You can use a view to see the items in a library that are most important to you or that best fit a purpose. The contents of the actual library don't change, but the files are organized or filtered to make them easier to find and to browse in a meaningful way.

  • Require document approval     You can specify that approval for a document is required. Documents remain in a pending state until they are approved or rejected by someone who has permission to do so. You can control which groups of users can view a document before it is approved.

  • Track versions     If you need to keep previous versions of files, libraries can help you track, store, and restore the files. You can choose to track all versions in the same way. Or you can choose to designate some versions as major, such as adding a new chapter to a manual, and some versions as minor, such as fixing a spelling error. To help manage storage space, you can optionally choose the number of each type of version that you want to store.

    For example, a travel agency might use a document library to manage its files. While team members develop a new sales proposal, they track minor versions of the file. If they make a mistake in one version, they can restore a previous version. When they finish the proposal, they can create a major version and then publish it for approval by their legal department and their manager. When the file is approved, other employees in the company can view the file.

  • Require check-out of files     When you require check-out of a file, you ensure that only one person can edit the file until it is checked in. Requiring documents to be checked out prevents multiple people from making changes at the same time, which can create editing conflicts and lead to confusion. Requiring check-out can also help to remind team members to add a comment when they check a file in, so that you can more easily track what has changed in each version.

  • Stay informed about changes     Libraries in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 support RSS technology, so that members of your workgroup can automatically receive updates. RSS enables people to receive and view updates, or feeds, of news and information in a consolidated location. You can also create e-mail alerts, so that you are notified when files change.

  • Edit files offline     If you prefer to work on your files on your hard disk, you can check them out and work offline, if you use an application that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, such as the 2007 Microsoft Office system.

  • Work with a library from an e-mail program     By using an e-mail program that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, such as Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, you can take your important information with you. You can read, edit, and search your files offline from your mail program.

  • Copy documents easily to another location     You can easily send a file to another location on a Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 site. When you update the original document, you can choose to be prompted to update the file in the other locations.

  • Define content types     If your group works with several types of files, such as worksheets, presentations, and documents, you can extend the functionality of your library by enabling and defining multiple content types. Content types add flexibility and consistency across multiple libraries. Each content type can specify a template and workflow processes.

    For example, a sales department can have templates for sales reports, standard documents, budgets, and presentations. Each template contains the company logo and mission statement. When people create a new file from the document library, they can select which template they want to use.

  • Specify unique permission     You can specify unique permission for a library, or even a file within a library.

  • Create workflows     A document library or content type can use workflows that your organization has defined for business processes, such as managing document approval or review.

The type of library that you use depends on the kinds of files that you are sharing:

  • Document library     For many file types, including documents and spreadsheets, use a document library. You can store other kinds of files in a document library, although some file types are blocked for security reasons. When you work with programs that are compatible with Windows SharePoint Services, you can create those files from the library. For example, your marketing team may have its own library for planning materials, news releases, and publications.

  • Picture library     To share a collection of digital pictures or graphics, use a picture library. Although pictures can be stored in other types of SharePoint libraries, picture libraries have several advantages. For example, from a picture library you can view pictures in a slide show, download pictures to your computer, and edit pictures with graphics programs that are compatible with Windows SharePoint Services. Consider creating a picture library if your team reuses lots of graphics, such as logos and corporate images, or if you want to store pictures of team events or product launches.

  • Wiki page library     To create a collection of connected wiki pages, use a wiki page library. A wiki enables multiple people to gather routine information in a format that is easy to create and modify. You can add to your library wiki pages that contain pictures, tables, hyperlinks, and internal links. For example, if your team creates a wiki site for a project, the site can store tips and tricks in a series of pages that connect to each other.

  • Form library     If you need to manage a group of XML-based business forms, use a form library. For example, your organization may want to use a form library for expense reports. Setting up a form library requires an XML editor or XML design program that is compatible with Windows SharePoint Services, such as Microsoft Office InfoPath.

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