If The Documents currently being stored by the National Archives in Lansburgh's department store were worth preserving in the first place, they are worth preserving still. Yet Lansburgh's has been judged a fire hazard by the Public Buildings Service of GSA, and several other inadequacies of ventilation and air conditioning have been spotted as well. Moreover, Lansburgh's is due for demolition in 5 to 7 years to make way for the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation. So why not get the stuff out of there now?

Because there's no place to put it, the Natioal Archives has run out of space. It has not run out of paper. nor will it ever, since everything the government prints is its potential quarry. And even though a mere 2 to 3 percent is preserved, that comes to a mountain range of paper, since the government has been publishing itself from the time it first became a government. In fact, among the documents piled in Lansburgh's are two volumes of the first journals of the first Congress, printed in 1777 and 1778, and the first statement of the country's accounts, produced in 1785 by Robert Morris with us now, he might be stunned by the cost of improving the safety conditions at Lansburgh's -- somewhere between a quarter and a half of a million dollars. But, like the other documents in Lansburgh's, his report is part of our history, and there's no price on that. When Lansburgh's is torn down, the people at the National "Archives hope to move the documents into permanent, and safe, underground storage on the new site. Until then, it makes great sense to spend whatever it takes to keep our past from the ashes and dust, and to do so in a hurry.