What is a Content Library?

Mary Elizabeth

When speaking about computers and software, the word content often refers to the digital files on the computer. The digital files may be of a number of different types: digital audio, digital clip art, digital fonts, digital images, digital photographs, digital video, digital text files, and digital animation, for example. A content library can refer either to a user’s entire collection of multimedia files or to a subsection of the files that are unified by type; by the software through which they were created; or by the application through which they are accessed, edited or played, for example. Even the user’s collection of applications could potentially be referred to as a content library.

Emoticons and other clip art images may be in a content library.
Emoticons and other clip art images may be in a content library.

Content libraries serve a variety of purposes. Some are collections of materials that the user has created. For example, a graphic artist would have a library of images. A composer would have a library of compositions, while a photographer would have a library of photographs. Various applications have content libraries as well. Music notation programs may come with a library of supplied sounds. Illustration programs may have a collection of clip art.

Audio files may make up a content library.
Audio files may make up a content library.

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Content libraries are also built up by users when they collect or purchase digital materials. For example, the application iTunes® is built around the concept of building one or more libraries that might include music, movies, podcasts, and other multimedia. One could also build a content library by purchasing a number of fonts or ringtones or plug-ins or by finding them offered for free and downloading them.

The value of a library rests in both the existence of its content, as well as the safety of its content and the availability of its content. This means that backing up content libraries is part of ensuring their value. Backups could take the form of CD-ROMs or DVDs, or could go on a USB flash drive or and external hard drive. This can also be useful in keeping one’s internal hard drive from getting too full.

Availability means that the location of the content in the library can be readily identified so that the content can be accessed, used, and played when desired. Once a content library reaches a certain size, some sort of organization is usually necessary to make ready access of the contents possible. This might involve applying multiple systems of categorizing. For example, photographs might be identified by the place and date of origin, the name of an occasion, and identification of the subject, including people. For other types of content, well-chosen file names and folder systems may be sufficient to keep them in good order.

An external hard drive containing a content library.
An external hard drive containing a content library.

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