Digital document libraries provide users with easy access to hundreds of resources. They’re essential for organizations that have documents, files, guides, downloadables, and other resources they want to share with site visitors, anytime and from anywhere in the world.

A document library typically has built-in filters and search functionality that allows users to quickly narrow down their search and find what they’re looking for.

Document Library Pro is a WordPress plugin that lets you create, manage, and display documents on your website in a neat and organized way. It can be used to add a searchable resource library to any website.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to add a resource library of documents (or other media types) to any WordPress website. You can use any theme for this, but we’ll be using the MH Magazine theme for illustration. It’s particularly popular for adding a resource library to magazine and other media websites such as podcasting sites.

Why add a Document Library?

A WordPress document library lets you documents, files, resources, and other media types on your website. If you have many files that you want to make accessible to users, a searchable resource library is the perfect solution for you.

Why add a Document Library?

You can use it to better manage your documents and resources, keep things organized in the back-end, and share resources with website users.

Benefits of a document or resource library

Let’s explore the key benefits of creating a document or resource library:

  • Organization. A document or resource library allows you to keep files organized in the back-end. You can create document categories and store each file under the correct category so it’s easier to find. For example, you can add all forms to a “Forms” category.
  • Accessibility. By setting up a document library on your WordPress site, you can make all of your documents and files more accessible to users. Anyone who needs to download a file or fill out a form can access the document library and quickly find what they’re looking for, anytime and from anywhere.
  • User engagement. A digital document or resource library lets you store extra data about each document. In addition to this, you can set up filters, folders, and search options to make it easier for users to narrow down their search and find exactly what they’re looking for.
  • Multiple file types. Document libraries support multiple file types which means you can store all of your organization or business documents in a single library. In addition to this, you can link to externally hosted documents (Office 365, Dropbox, or YouTube) from your document library to make them easily accessible to users.

Example WordPress Document Library Use Cases

A WordPress document or resource library is incredibly versatile and you can use it in all sorts of different ways. Let’s step through some common use cases:

Magazine and Media Sites

Online magazines and media sites can use a document library for their media kits. You can create different folders for different documents. For example, you might want to create a “Logos” folder which contains your logo in different sizes or formats and a separate “Case Studies” folder which contains case studies in the PDF format.

Educational Portals

Educational portals provide site users access to lessons, online course materials, and research papers. These sorts of sites can use a document library plugin to organize their files and documents and make them accessible to users.

Anyone who’s looking for a file can use the filter options or the search bar to quickly find the correct materials. Another benefit of using a document library is that users will be able to see related materials, as well. For example, someone searching for a “Photography” course might discover bonus lessons or guides you’ve created around the same topic.

Corporate Websites

Corporate websites can list product manuals, internal documents, forms, and much more in their digital document library. Larger businesses that have tons of files and documents they want to make available to users can create multiple document libraries on a single website.

For example, they might want to create a document library for the “Human Resources” department and a separate one for their “Sales” department. They might even have a common document library that contains all files and documents that are relevant to staff members (such as product manuals and documentation) and a user-centered one that functions as a knowledge base.

Community and Non-profit Organizations

Communities and non-profit organizations can use a document or resource library to share guides and legal documents with members. For example, you can share booking forms for local multipurpose community centers so it’s easier for community members to download, fill out, and submit them.

Similarly, non-profit organizations can upload volunteer registration forms, charity details, and contact information to their document or resource library.

High-Level Overview of Setting Up Document Library Pro

Here, we’ll show you step-by-step how to set up the Document Library Pro plugin on your WordPress site. For a more detailed tutorial, you can read the Complete Guide to Creating a WordPress Document Library

Step #1: Install Document Library Pro

Start by getting the Document Library Pro plugin if you haven’t done so already. You’ll receive the plugin files and a license key in the confirmation email.

Install the plugin on your WordPress site and activate it. The setup wizard will help you set the plugin up and configure basic settings right away.

Active License Key

Enter the license key and click the Check button to validate it. Click the Next button to proceed to the next step.

Choose Layout

Next, you’ll be prompted to choose a layout for your user-facing document library. You can go with either a Table or Grid layout. The plugin also lets you display the document library in folders and enable the Document preview option.

Choose Table or Grid layout

In the next step, you can choose which information will appear in the document library table columns. You can also choose how users access documents and enable lazy load.

The filters settings let you choose which filters to display above the document library.

The filters settings let you choose which filters to display above the document library. You can show filter dropdowns based on document categories, tags, or a custom taxonomy.

Your setup is complete

Once the setup wizard is complete, you can add or import documents to your document library.

Step #2: Add or import documents

The Document Library pro plugin offers three main ways to add documents to your document library:

  • Create a document – create a new document manually from the back-end
  • Select from the Media Library – select files from the Media Library to include in your document library
  • Import documents – import documents by drag-and-drop or CSV

Creating a document is similar to how you’d create a new post or page in WordPress. Start by entering a title and description.

Create your document

Next, use the Document Link section to choose how you’ll link to the file:

  • File Upload – to upload a file that users can download
  • Custom URL – add the URL of the file (e.g. Dropbox or Office 365 link)
  • None – choose this option if you want to embed the document into the main content i.e. the description box

Select the correct Document Categories and Documents Tags to file it under. This helps keep the documents organized from the get-go. For instance, you might create separate categories for Resources, Policies, Meetings Minutes, and Forms. This depends entirely on how you want to organize your documents and files.

Click the Publish button to continue. Repeat these steps to add all of your documents to the WordPress document library.

Step #3: Display the document library on your WordPress site

Now that you’ve added the documents to your document library, it’s time to see it in action!

The Document Library Pro plugin automatically creates a main document library page for you when you install the plugin on your website. To view the page, head over to Pages from the WordPress admin panel and search for the Document Library page. You can rename it to anything you’d like.

Preview the page on the front-end. It will look something like this:

You can go back to the plugin’s settings page any time to tweak the layout and display settings until you’re happy with how your document or resource library looks on the front-end. For example, you might want to add columns to the document library.

Or you might want to use the grid layout instead which would look something like this:

Grid Layout

We also recommend adding a document library link to your site’s navigation menu.

The Menu structure of your site

You can do this by going to AppearanceMenus from the WordPress dashboard and adding the Document Library page to your menu.

Conclusion

A document or resource library helps you present important documents, files, and resources in a user-friendly layout. Users can search for specific documents using the search bar or use the filter dropdowns to narrow down their search.

The easiest way to create a document library in WordPress is by using the Document Library Pro plugin. You can create and publish your document library in three simple steps. Plus, it offers plenty of options to customize your document library however you want.

Ready to build a WordPress document resource library? Get the Document Library Pro plugin today!