Difference Between Library and Archive

Library vs Archive

Today’s generation has one knowledge source, and that is the internet. But in days when there was no internet, the only source of knowledge from books and manuscripts were public libraries that were set up for people to come, spend time in the reading room of the libraries reading all the material and also borrow the books to read at home. Not many people know about another source of knowledge which is archives. These are similar to libraries in the sense that they also house informative material having significance for the public. In this article we will try to differentiate between the two places based upon their features.


In times when printing and publishing books was not as advance as today, libraries helped common people in their pursuit of knowledge by keeping thousands of important books on numerous subjects and literary works of great writers of the past and present. A library, though it has lost a bit of sheen today because of the internet, has always been useful as people went there to get the material they were looking for and satiated their thirst for knowledge. Students borrowed books from these libraries and even got important sections photocopied for their exams.

A library mainly stacks published works and if a book is stolen or damaged, it can easily replace it by buying another from the market. These are not original manuscripts but material that comes from published or secondary source.


Archive is a word used to refer to original manuscripts written by great writers of the past as also the place where these works are stored for public to come and see to gain knowledge. These books are of great importance because of their cultural and historic value. One cannot hope to find books and magazines that are commonly found in public and private libraries. Since the material stored in an archive is of great importance, it needs to be preserved using modern techniques of preservation.

Archives are very important for those doing research in various fields as they get authenticated material which is normally not found elsewhere.

In brief:

• While a library is a place for storing published material, archive stores material that has not been published.

• It is easy to replace a stolen or damaged book in a library while it is nearly impossible in the case of an archive.

• Modern techniques of preservation are needed to preserve rare manuscripts in an archive.

• An archive is a primary source of knowledge whereas a library is a secondary source of knowledge.