Libraries and archives preserve objects, such as documents and books that help us to discover the events that unfolded in the past. One way to organize these objects is divided into primary sources and secondary sources. What makes an object a primary or a secondary source often depends on how they are used. The primary and secondary sources when we use them together, help us to understand people, ideas and events of the past.
People rely on original documents, witnesses in the past to recreate the stories that have occurred in the past. We call these witnesses to "primary sources" because they constitute the first evidence of what happened, what we thought or what was said. Primary sources are all that has been created at a time when an event happened or shortly after. These sources are often rare or unique. However, some primary sources may also exist in many copies, if they were popular or easily accessible at the time of their creation.
Primary resources can be put into four basic categories: official records, personal records, media and the arts, which include photos, literature and archeology. Official records from government or other institutions serve as objective records of the past, whereas personal resources such as diaries or letters are more biased.
"Secondary sources" are information second-hand witnesses published. They are so named because they were created after the primary sources, and they often use primary sources, or discuss it. Secondary sources may provide further opinions about a past event or a primary source, sometimes distort facts. There are often many copies of secondary sources, which can be found in libraries, schools or homes.