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Archives vs. Libraries
A Comparison of Materials

paragraph indentThere are fundamental differences between an archive and a library that are most apparent when considering the differences in the materials collected by each.  The differences in collections are distinguished using the following categories: 


indentation Published
indentation Discrete items
indentation Independent significance
indentation Available elsewhere

paragraph indentationARCHIVES:
indentation Unpublished
indentation Groups of related items
indentation Significance from relationship to other items
indentation Unique


indentation Many different individuals or organizations

paragraph indentationARCHIVES:
indentation Parent organization or institution

Method of Creation

indentation Separate, independent actions

paragraph indentationARCHIVES:
indentation Organic - normal course of business

Method of Receipt

indentation Selected as single items
indentation Decisions revocable

paragraph indentationARCHIVES:
indentation Appraised in aggregate
indentation Decisions irrevocable (destruction is forever)


indentation Predetermined subject classification

paragraph indentationARCHIVES:
indentation Provenance and original order (relation to structure and function)

Level of Description

indentation Individual items

paragraph indentationARCHIVES:
indentation Aggregate (record group or series)

Descriptive Media

indentation Built into the published item (title page, table of contents, index)
indentation Card catalog, online public access system (OPAC)

paragraph indentationARCHIVES:
indentation Must be prepared by the archivist
indentation Guides and inventories, online systems


indentation Open stacks
indentation Items circulate

paragraph indentationARCHIVES:
indentation Closed stacks
indentation Items do not circulate

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