One of the biggest products of government is paper. It’s hard to imagine how much paper is produced until you see it all in one place. A vacant factory where toothpaste and shampoo used to be made and stored is now lined with 14-foot high shelves packed with one-cubic foot boxes, so many that state records management director Craig Kelso thinks they’d stretch 73 miles if laid end to end.
The new storage facility holds more than 300,000 records from more than 850 state government units. Some of the records include road bonds from the early 1920s. Many of the boxes are closed to the public because they contain confidential personal information. They’re stacked at random, marked with bar codes, for security reasons. Unless someone has access to the bar codes, they’ll spend months looking at thousands of boxes to find the one they want.
If you saw “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” you might remember the last scene where the boxed-up ark is placed in the national archives. A picture of the state records management facility is reminiscent of that scene.
A lot of things are being done digitally these days. But Secretary of State spokesman Laura Egerdal says government keeps churning out so much paper the new big facility will be full in another eight to ten years. She says the facility gets about 28,000 boxes of new records every year. About 15,000 boxes of records can be destroyed each year.
The boxes bar-codes are essential because the program fields 62,000 requests a year for the information in those boxes.