IT Employment

Maintaining an electronic library

With more and more reference material being provided in electronic form, instead of the bulky, bound User's Guides, maintaining an electronic library on a networked drive might be helpful to users. Take the poll. Do you maintain an electronic library?

With more and more reference material being provided in electronic form, instead of the bulky, bound user's guides, maintaining an electronic library on a networked drive might be helpful to users. Take the poll. Do you maintain an electronic library?

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The days of getting those thick and bulky user's guides with a software purchase are over. Personally speaking, it's been years since I've gotten one. It seems that most reference material is now provided in electronic form. And while it clears room on my bookshelf, I try to make room for it on my network.

One of the first things I'll do when I get new software or a software upgrade is to copy the electronic documentation to its own folder on our corporate network. I have a mapped drive to the space, made available to all my users, appropriately called the Library.

Windows Resources, eBooks, user's guides, tutorials, industry-specific electronic manuals, videos, and so on, are all made available to whomever might need them.

At first, I felt rather put-out because the software manufacturers quit shipping the printed manuals with their product. I even went so far as printing the electronic form and making my own manual. But it seemed silly after a while, and I quickly learned to make use of the benefits of the electronic form of the documentation -- the best thing, of course, is the easy search function.

I make the electronic library open to whomever wants to save some sort of reference or training material, as long as it's organized and put in a clear and obvious folder. It seems to work pretty well.

Take our poll. Do you maintain an electronic library?

What kind of ideas can you share about maintaining or creating an electronic library?

20 comments
Meesha
Meesha

Gosh. We've been providing on-line library services since 1997. It's been simple to use and maintain. We use Lotus Notes/Domino as the central repository, indexing, search and retrieval tools. We have client access, web access and mobile access. Security is quite good providing access to material that may be more sensitive to a group. One recent kudo for our document library is in achieving ISO 14001 certification for environmental issues. The auditors were well pleased with access control, versioning control, etc.

steven.bamford
steven.bamford

Great idea with the document library through mapped drive. I had not thought of this idea until I read your comments. We have an intranet here based on Sharepoint. I am now thinking we should serve the same to our company here using the intranet, but store the files on the shared storage. Thanks for the idea!

jcroson
jcroson

If you keep your software / hardware legacy free, you can find all documentation at your manufacturers website. This also includes addendum's to the bugs they fix. If it's for disaster recovery reference, you should have hard-copy. Most user-level documentation is provided by pressing F1 in the running program. For frequently referenced topics, like "How do I forward my desk phone to my cell phone?", or "How can I access my email from home?", we provide process (howto) documentation on our corporate Wiki.

eric
eric

In my company, we are making strides to digitize our entire collection of hard-copy forms. I work in the real estate business, so as you can imagine, there are a ton of forms to contend with. I have digitized our entire listing packet and saved it on our server, internally and also made them available on our corporate Intranet. I have also created my own guides to various services offered by the tech. department I manage which really makes things easier, especially if you are well-organized.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I'm a road warrior, so having my tech library on a server isn't an option. The fact that I use a notebook exclusively means that I've limited screen space. So to eliminate window-flipping, my solution was an e-reader. I'd suggest it for any IT-type actually. I've a Kindle now and it's a great solution that allows me to have all my tech manuals and even my "CCNA Portable Command Guide" (tech life-saving bible) on the Kindle. Besides, if I need another Cisco book, all I have to do is turn the phone on in my Kindle and download it from Amazon. If you aren't familiar with e-readers, I wrote an article about them: http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/networking/?p=604 I'm very excited about a new product from Plastic Logic that's the next step and appears to be a normal-sized page e-reader. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v226DYqlbHQ

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Beats having 'them' in a shoebox under the bed :-)

Ng Chuan Aik
Ng Chuan Aik

I have an electronic library in the Shared Folder. I found it really convenience compared to printed materials. Other than technical view point, it saves us quit some numbers of A4 paper. It contributes to less paper consumption and more environmental friendly work place.

Jacky Howe
Jacky Howe

is a lot quicker to access than to have to get out of a comfy chair, walk to the bookshelf and find the information. The search function in XP seems to be better after SP3 and I haven't had too many problems with Vista search.

davdun75
davdun75

I perform home PC repair/upgrade/rebuilds. When I get a client's unit, I usually download spec pages for mainboard, graphic hardware etc. and sometimes spec sheets from PC manufacturers. These are not only a good learning tool and helpful with my hobby but are invariably useful if the client returns. All the downloads are saved in a separate labelled folder for easy retrieval.

suzanne.ogden
suzanne.ogden

Please be sure that you are not violating US copyright laws when you maintain electronic libraries of anything that anyone can look at. You really don't need to put your company in legal jeopardy by doing this. It's like using software without a license.

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

btw a corporate wiki is not an electronic library? What's your definition of a library? mine is "a searchable repository/database of knowledge".

glgruver
glgruver

I too use an open access file on the server. I maintain separate files for service manuals, as-built documents and service bulletins. I also set up a "reading room" file where I place items of interest, including T-R articles and other items of general interest. Since most of our manuals contain diagrams, schematics, drawings and other graphics, I keep them in pdf format. I do wish my scanner software would allow me to save scanned documents and images as pdf files, however. I recently needed to convert 2 documents to pdf and I had a devil of a time getting that done. I also have problems with some Federal agencies who still insist on having everything in printed form, but they are now grudgingly allowing electronic service records.....however we still need to have the ability to produce printed copies upon demand by an inspector. Other than these relatively minor problems, the implementation of an electronic library has gone quite well. It has been in operation for over 5 years now and I do not miss having to deal with all those books.

Jacky Howe
Jacky Howe

setup the same as you have suggested but I mainly keep my documents in text format. It doesn't take long to copy it into word if it needs formatting or jazzing up with pictures, then I print it to PDF. I rarely use a printer these days. I collect Motherboard manuals from Client CD's to make it easier for me later on when they have been misplaced and I need information. I have it all contained to 80GB at the moment.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Thanks for the contribution.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Thanks for mentioning that. Most (or all) documentation wouldn't be a factor, but videos, industry specific information (such as building codes), etc. might indeed have licensing considerations. Thanks for chiming in.

ideason88
ideason88

I use an Epson RX 580 printer/scanner for a scanner only. I don't even have it hooked up the computer, but what I like is it allows me to scan directly to PDF or JPEG and gives a few other options on the screen. A flash drives plugs right into the front to scan the files to. It works great for what I need to do.

goldenpirate
goldenpirate

you use the full version of adobe acrobat you can set up a hell of an index/search database of all of your pdf files.

Aydin H
Aydin H

I have started my electronic library in our department with around 50+ ebooks in 5+ different categories. I have emailed each and everyone about new feature in our local server. Amazingly, no one even respond. But I have my 10+GB library at home and enjoying it. I just need an application to keep track of them. Please drop a line if you have a suggestion. Thanks for your comments.

Jacky Howe
Jacky Howe

but I am happy with what I have access to. ;)

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