Not Online: 57 times the Earth’s diameter in archival materials, at the US National Archives and Records Administration
In response to the common question “Why isn’t it all online?”, NARA says:
Laid end to end, the sheets of paper in our holdings would circle the Earth over 57 times!
In addition to all of this paper, we have:
- over 93,000 motion picture films;
- more than 5.5 million maps, charts, and architectural drawings;
- more than 207,000 sound and video recordings;
- more than 18 million aerial photographs;
- nearly 35 million still pictures and posters;
- and more than 3.5 billion electronic records.
The volume grows at about 1.4 billion pages per year. Creating copies for our web site, and preserving those copies, simply exceeds our resources at this time.
Indeed, the sheer effort involved in digitization is not one commonly considered by the average user. While online searching is offered, it is quite likely that a serious researcher would have to visit one of these archives facilities to get their hands on the right documents.