Difference Between Library and Archive

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Library and Archive

Why read @ Diffzy

Our articles are well-researched

We make unbiased comparisons

Our content is free to access

We are a one-stop platform for finding differences and comparisons

We compare similar terms in both tabular forms as well as in points


Storage of information is a method of preserving our present as history. It can be preserved in various ways, such as in the form of books, documents, CDs, DVDs, cassettes, videotapes, voice recordings, etc. Data can be of two types, private and public data. The methods to keep these data are also different. Archive and library are two methods to store data. The archive means to store private data whereas libraries mainly store public data.

Archive vs. library

An archive is a collection of the personal data of a person or an organization. It is stored in the form of books, records, documents, soft copies, CDs, etc. It is personal and not available for public use. Keeping the documents archived is an excellent method to maintain data for years and years.

However, the library is a wider form of an archive. Though the origin of a library is from archives, today the two are different from each other. The library is a source of information that is available for public use. It consists of various forms of data like books, magazines, e-books, audiobooks, audiotapes, videotapes, articles, theory, journals, etc.

A library is of different types. Mostly, they are for public use. However, few libraries, like, the national library keeps records and achievements of the country. People cannot borrow anything from there. These libraries are sometimes open to the public but only for visiting not borrowing.

Difference between archive and library in tabular form

Parameters of comparison Archive Library
Type of source Primary source Secondary source
Source of information Donation and working data Purchase and donations
Type of data Personal or private data Public data
Visuality of data unpublished published
Type of material unique general
Accessibility Not accessible by the general public Accessible by the general public
Manager archivist librarian
Data type Creator of data Collector of data
Owner An individual or an organization Organizations, schools, communities, universities, government, etc

What is an archive?

An archive is a personal document of a person or an organization that has been collected over time. It is not open for public use. And, it is maintained to keep the history of a person or an organization mostly. As per the definition, it is different from the concept of a library. It doesn’t have piles of books and resources. Rather, the documents kept in the archive are original. They are neither copied from somewhere nor published anywhere like books and magazines.

An archive can be of anything. Whether it is an individual who is keeping the records of their work or an organization who wants to maintain a database of their work. This database is unique for every individual and organization. Because it is personal information. It depends on the person whether he wants to keep it a secret or publish it. The database of companies is often published in the form of info and achievements.


The concept of keeping archives goes long back in time. When there was the rule of Mari, Amarna, Ebla, etc. This was nearly a million years BC. These archives were the chief source to know about the alphabets and writings of that period. After the invention of paper, for a long time, no archives were found because papers got deteriorated after some time.

The archives which were kept in clay tablets, and walls are safe until now. England had kept their archives safe since 1066.

The concept of archive got popular after French Revolution. The French archive center has kept its data since the 6th century. Today, it has the largest collection of archives.

Who uses the archives?

Normally, different kinds of people search for archives. But there are commonly five main groups that are more in these kinds of works. These are filmmakers, academics, business, government, and others.

Academics search for the information to enhance their knowledge or do any research work on it. these pieces of research are stored in the form of resources in various institutions. These generally include schools, universities, colleges, educational institutions, etc. they mainly maintain the record of students, office works, achievements, and developments done on the campus.

Filmmakers keep the data for further use. They have to maintain data on what they do and how a particular film is produced.

A business also maintains archive data for profits. The record rooms help the private companies to make strategies to increase their market. Several big private companies had made separate wings for archiving the data.

The most important use of archives is in the government. The government makes a record of each piece of information declared by it. It even has the record of minute details like how the government had spent their one day in the cabinet. The Acts and Amendments passed by the government are a part of the archive. A section of this archive is kept for the public that the government publishes as per the need. While some archives are confidential and rare information.

Other institutions that maintain an archive are the church, non-profit organizations, etc. Various famous churches keep a record of what is going on every day in the church. A non-profit organization keeps a database of its work.


After digitalization, all physical archives were transferred to digital data. In due process, several gaps founded in maintaining the data. Neither form of storage can ensure uniformity in it. It may seem well organized in digital form. But it too becomes difficult to manage after some time.

What is a library?

A library is a place where books, media, CDs, and cassettes are stored for public use. It may be physical or virtual. These resources are stored in a library for public use. The public can use the resource either for free of cost or by paying a small amount of money. Fees are charged by the library owner.

A library is a huge source of resources. Information related to diverse topics of the world is stored in it. It is a collection of different types of information. A person comes to the library either to increase their knowledge or to find some information.

A physical library looks like an auditorium where several ranks full of books and other resources, are kept. A library is also known as a silent room. A librarian is appointed to manage the whole library. He is an expert in handling the resources, arranging them, and propagating and storing them.

The format of a digital library is quite different from a physical one. It is available online and can be accessed from anywhere and anytime. There is no time limit. A librarian doesn't manage a digital library. Rather, the internet itself manages the whole resources.

A digital library is more convenient and accessible than a physical one. Because it can be accessed anytime from anywhere. Most resources available online are free of cost.


The origin of a library was in the form of archives first. People used to collect documents for future references. The earliest form of written documents were clay tablets and leaf plates. The first original form of the library was discovered in Sumer, around 2600 BC back. Private libraries were built in the age of classical Greece around the 5th century BC.

Then after, several great libraries were built. When a war happens, the winning side destroys all the resources and documents of the defeated side so that no traces stay of the defeating party. It led to the destruction of libraries and other resources. 

The role of librarians

Librarians are specially trained individuals who work to manage the libraries. Special courses run in the schools and colleges to train a librarian to handle the work. The main task of a librarian includes collection, management, arrangement, book trade, influencing, merit, patterns of use, language distribution, etc. A librarian is a separate job based on specialized skills and experiences. The collection and information of a library are updated every day. A librarian needs to keep himself updated on new information.

Types of libraries

With the rise of libraries, it gets divided into different types. Depending on the kind of resources a library can provide, it can be of different types. For example, a college library has both the area of reading and the option of lending. Other libraries changed their structure depending on the needs of people.

Academic libraries

Academic libraries are located in schools and universities to facilitate advanced resources and information to enhance knowledge. They might be open to the local public as well with minimal fees. Mostly, academic libraries are for communities. The purpose behind opening a library in a locality is to enhance the literary figure in the community.

Children libraries

Children's libraries are specially designed for children to enhance their little minds and reading aspirations. A small room in the bigger libraries is dedicated entirely to the children. In some cases, the entire library is also dedicated to the children. Different types of juvenile books and adventure stories are also present to attract the children.

National libraries

National libraries are kinds of libraries owned by the government of a country. It contains rare and significant resources related to the country. It is rarely open for public use. All the publications related to the country’s interests are stored in these libraries to maintain a database.

Public lending libraries

Public lending libraries are a part of the countrywide library system. It allows the countrymen to borrow all kinds of resources. It is available in cities and provides all types of books and resources to the city people. To get access to these libraries, the library issues a library card with minimal fees. The number of borrowings is fixed and the date and time of the borrowing.

Other kinds of libraries include a reference library, research library, digital library, and special library.

Library in the present scenario

In the 21st century, the concept of the library has changed a lot. Earlier, a library was only about books and documents. But the conception has changed now. Information is in the form of digital media. Several new forms to store data have been introduced, such as CDs, cassettes, blue-ray discs, videotapes, DVDs, e-books, audiobooks, databases, etc.

The data is now stored in the form of soft copies. Books are available in the form of e-books and audiobooks. Internet services are provided in physical libraries. The whole concept of a library is changed now. 

Difference between archive and library in points

  • The information available at the archive is a primary source of information. It means there is no other copy of that information elsewhere. Whereas, the documents kept in a library are a secondary source of information. That means they have been taken from somewhere else.
  • The source of information present in the archive is donations done by a person or an organization. It can be the information on the work done by the person or the organization. However, the primary source of information in a library is the donation of documents by other people or purchasing.
  • The type of data kept in an archive is personal data. It is not shared with other people and doesn’t receive data from anywhere else. However, the information kept in a library is for public use and can be taken by anyone provided the person has access to the library.
  • An archive is managed by an archivist while a library is managed by a librarian.
  • It is owned by an individual or a single organization. However, a library can be owned by a school, non-governmental organizations, community, government, etc.


An archive and a library are ways to keep data and information. An archive is meant to keep personal data and it is not accessible by an outsider. However, the purpose of a library is to provide information to people. It can be accessed by anyone and is available to almost everyone.

Though a library can be considered a subset of an archive because archives first came into existence. Today, a library is more popular among people than archives.



Cite this article

Use the citation below to add this article to your bibliography:



MLA Style Citation

"Difference Between Library and Archive." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sat. 24 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-library-and-archive-102>.

Edited by

Share this article