Plan and design a library

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.

Libraries can be customized 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 use documents before they are approved.


You can create and manage documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, and other types of files in a library. You can customize the library for your purposes, or you can create additional libraries.

When planning your site library, assess the content that you already have in your organization, and use the information to design a library structure for your site. You should consider the following:

  • Number of files

  • Location of files

  • File types and classification

  • Business and team structure

  • Content approval processes and workflow

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.

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.

Note: To create a library, you must have permission to manage lists on the site where you want to create the library.

The following are library features that support collaboration and communication:

  • Check out of files    You can require that users check documents out of a library before editing them. 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.

  • 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.

  • Share content changes through Really Simple Syndication (RSS)    Members of your workgroup can automatically receive updates and share content on a site with other workgroups through RSS.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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