April 16 Document Archive available to families and victims of tragedy
December 17, 2008
Virginia Tech has prepared an archive of documents related to the April 16 shootings as agreed to within the Settlement Agreement approved by the Richmond Circuit Court June 17, 2008.
The commonwealth negotiated agreements with families of victims or victims of April 16. The agreements included a provision to “maintain one or more electronic archive(s) of its written records, in whatever form, related to the Tragedy….”
Currently, the archive is available only to families of those who lost loved ones and to surviving victims. Most of the documents are available for review by all users. However, because there are records unique to each victim and available only to them or the families of victims, the university is making it available only to settlement participants until February 1, 2009. This will allow them time to use and inspect the materials and to ensure that they are satisfied that no otherwise protected information (unique to them or their loved one) is exposed. They will be able to access the archive from any web accessible computer.
Sometime during February 2009, the university will make available public access terminals in the Library of Virginia in Richmond and the Virginia Tech Newman Library in Blacksburg. All public documents within the archive will be accessible except those unique to a victim and that which would otherwise be private. (e.g. financial aid records, transcripts, applications, etc.)
Any record relating to Seung-Hui Cho, except medical records, will be public.
Ultimately, the archive will be available for inspection by anyone anywhere from the internet. University information technology staff wish to evaluate the performance of the underlying software purchased from the vendor to ensure it can handle a large load.
“We are using specialized legal software originally developed for smaller scale usage,” said William Dougherty, director of systems support and e-discovery. “We and the vendor, Servient, believe it can handle many users simultaneously, but we first must observe it under real conditions. Once, we know it can handle intense usage, we will make provisions to post it up like any other web-based database.”
The archive, which uses propriety search software and cost $440,000, holds about 7,600 documents totaling about 13,700 pages of information. The materials were derived from electronically stored documents and scanned hard-copy documents. The archive contains records and e-mail correspondence related to Cho and his Virginia Tech academic career, records and e-mail correspondence from university policy group on April 16-17, and the university’s recovery efforts in days immediately following the shootings.
This archive should not be confused with the one produced by Virginia Tech University Libraries Special Collections. This developing archive hosts a representative selection of the artifacts sent to the university as expressions of sympathy, support, and condolence in the aftermath of the shootings on April 16, 2007. The Memorial Archive also documents activities at Virginia Tech such as impromptu memorials at both the Blacksburg campus and elsewhere.
See it at: http://scholar.lib.vt.edu/416_archive.