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Here’s an overview to help better understand the difference:

A document library is a container for creating, organizing, and managing different types of documents. It allows you to store files and meta information about the files, so that it can be used among different team members. You can create, store, and manage almost every type of file in different kinds of libraries (i.e., Word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms etc).

“Metadata” is the term used to describe additional data that gives information about your files. Metadata that you may already be familiar with includes “Created Date”, “Modified By”, “File Size”, “File Type”, etc. Common metadata often found in a SharePoint Document Library is “File Status” (Draft, Final, Sent to Client). Adding metadata to your files allows you to create library viewsworkflow rules, and other navigation and searching aids.

A SharePoint Document Library is usually found on every SharePoint site. Multiple document libraries can also be created. Often, an organization’s document library will be named “Shared Documents”. The document library is a “container” into which documents are placed. Folders can be created within a document library for further organization. Documents are stored on the server, so they’re easily accessible and editable by members of the site. Create, upload, edit, collaboration editing, versioning, set permissions, check out, download to computer — these are but a few of the features available in a SharePoint Document Library.

A Document Library is a Collection of Files To Be Shared

It’s common for the administrator to not only create the document libraries, but also to decide how many to have, and to plan their uses. When deciding how many document libraries to start with, you need to consider who will have access to the documents. For example, if you have a particular client that you will be sharing a few files with, you can create a document library to hold the files and manage the sharing of them. Adding new files to the library is very easy to do, and once you’ve added new files into the library, your client will immediately have access to them.

Document libraries can also take advantage of the document management features of SharePoint, such as version control and creating workflows. The version control feature tells SharePoint to create a copy of a file when it is saved, and to make notes about its version. The old version of the file remains accessible if it is needed for reference or it becomes necessary to revert the document to an earlier state. Workflows handle the processing and handling of the document, including steps for approval.

You should also consider how documents are going to be added to the library, and if they are going to be used by other functional units. For example, documents related to a department’s budget may be stored in a document library for all of the administrative staff, but are reviewed and generated by the accounting staff. In that example, there may be two document libraries that have documents moving through them, using either workflows or by manually adding.

It’s clear that a SharePoint Document Library is much more than a file folder — CMIT Solutions of Stamford can help you to leverage the features that would be most beneficial to you.


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