The use of worked-out underground mines to store documents? Does this represent progress? Personally I store no papers and have long since made the traumatic decision not to store papers. Either put it in a library or file it electronically where the grandkids may one-day access it in a surfeit of ancestral curiosity.

This perspective is induced by thoughts on the use of old underground mines as a place to store records from the modern paper-generating industries of our cities. The first Google site on the topic is the website for the Winsford Salt Mines in Cheshire, England. The site is primarily an invitation: “Aslib members are offered the opportunity to visit DeepStore's unique document and archive storage facility underground at Winsford Rock Salt Mine in Cheshire. The event will include a film-viewing in the underground theatre, a drive into the extensive mine workings and a visit to the secure, controlled environment of the DeepStore storage areas. DeepStore is fast making a name for itself in the records management world with its storage provision to BS5454 and high standard of personalised customer service. Their clients include the National Archives and the Bodleian Library. Don't miss this opportunity to assess the facility for yourself, and have your questions answered over the buffet lunch DeepStore has offered to provide.”

Next on Google is the Hutchinson, Kansas old salt mines storage facility. You have to be impressed with the American bravado in comparison to the British reserve: “Our flagship salt mine facility in the center of the United States (Hutchinson, Kansas) is widely regarded as one of the most secure facilities in the nation – positioned 650 feet deep in the earth, using a vertical shaft entrance, encased in a solid salt formation, with more than 80 football fields-worth of available storage area. Our limestone mine facilities in Kansas City, Missouri and Louisville, Kentucky also offer stable temperature and humidity as well as protection from natural disasters. Refrigerated storage for movie film and other media is also available at these two facilities. With regular trucking routes crossing the nation, you may be surprised at how economical transportation can be.”

In the interests of truth in advertising, I must also admit that the impetus for this piece was a new InfoMine client, namely Innovative Innovations Inc. This is the service they provide: “Innovative Innovations eliminates the hassle of document management, giving you access to your documents any time, anywhere. All you have to do is place your documents in a box that we provide. We handle the entire process from pickup and delivery to scanning to our optional long-term, secure storage or confidential shredding services.” I wonder if they store stuff in old mines? I wonder if a cultural buff could establish national identities on the basis of these very different approaches to writing about the same physical objects?