Not all Boxes are Created Equal

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the physical bonds which have connected them with their physical records, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and the State in which they reside, a decent respect to the opinions of their accounting department that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all boxes are created equal, that they are endowed by their manufacturer with certain inalienable rights, that among these are longevity, durability and the pursuit of equal billing…     OK, stop right there.

Sound familiar?   Our founding fathers put into words that which is the basis for our independence.  Our equality.  Unfortunately, this equality stops short of including boxes that are designed to hold records, because not all boxes are created equal.

Thanks to the miracle of modern manufacturing, records storage boxes come in so many flavors these days, you could almost compare them to the new soda machines that provide the consumer with 100 different choices for soda flavors.

What does this mean to you?  It means you can no longer tell someone you have records stored in a “bankers box.”  I Googled “Bankers Box” and found a company that is offering 1,700 different sizes of Bankers Boxes.

It also means, if offsite records storage is being considered, knowing what you have will save you some heartburn down the road.  Records storage vendors are essentially leasing volumes of space.  When a box is relocated to an offsite storage vendor, the customer is invoiced for the volume of space being consumed.  When calling for quotes for this service, knowing what you have will help your vendors provide accurate estimates and avoid surprises at invoice time.

Let’s start with different, but common, sizes of boxes.

  • 1.2 cubic foot.  This is a very common box size.  Typically 15” long x 12” wide x 10” tall, these boxes will hold either letter or legal sized records.
  • 2.4 cubic foot.  Also popular, these are 24” long x 12” wide x 10” tall and are usually holding letter size documents due to their width.
  • 3.0 cubic foot. These monsters are 24” long x 15” wide x 10” tall and will more than likely be holding legal sized documents.
  • Beyond these, you can find check boxes, x-ray boxes, microfilm boxes, magazine boxes, and at least 1,693 more different types.

Now let’s talk construction.

Stap…  I mean, office supply stores carry boxes you can use also.  However, these boxes usually are a single layer of cardboard on the long sides and two layers at each end.  They are not bad.  Every box has a purpose.  I have a couple of them at home.  But, if your records are going to be handled frequently, these boxes may fail the “right to durability” to which you are entitled.

Different construction is out there that renders a box “archival” quality which mostly means that it is designed to be handled until archaeologists find it 3,000 years from now next to your sarcophagus.  Well, maybe not that long, but certainly durable enough to withstand the demands of long term storage and frequent handling.  These boxes are typically double walled along the sides and triple walled at each end at the handles.

If you are putting records into storage that will be there a while and get handled some, consider the investment of a more durable container.  That extra dollar or two in cost could save you HOURS of time down the road if a box deteriorates and spills your records into an unorganized pile on a floor.

Lastly, handles.

Believe it or not, some boxes are made without handles.  Have I mentioned yet that not all boxes are created equal?  Especially if you are buying new boxes for a move into storage, consider contacting your vendor about this.  They may not accept them.

Handles are a taste thing.  Either the plastic type or those cut in the ends of the box work well and have their benefits.  Please feel free to levy your preference as you wish on this one.

In conclusion, the point that I’m really trying to make is that the move into offsite storage may not be as simple as ‘moving those bankers boxes into storage.’  Patrick Henry once said, “…it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth,…”  In this case, the painful truth being that not all boxes are created equal.

While, yes, everyone is busy these days, (again quoting Mr. Henry) “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past…” this is information that most folks find helpful.  If accessing your records in a timely manner is a concern and being able to evaluate the value of offsite versus in-house storage is part of the decision, I hope you have found this information helpful, too.

Feeling a little patriotic after hearing a little Patrick Henry? See the full text of his speech here:

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