April 16 archive of documents made available to public
February 6, 2009
Virginia Tech is making available to the public an archive of documents related to the April 16 shootings. This is the same file of information made available to families and victims of the shootings except personal documents specific to a victim.
Family members and survivors have had access to the archive since mid-December. The Commonwealth of Virginia 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….”
While the university was obligated to make these records available only to settlement participants, university leadership decided to make the documents available for public review. All 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.)
Beginning Monday, Feb. 9, a terminal connected to the archive on the second floor of the Newman Library on the Virginia Tech campus and a terminal on the second floor of the Library of Virginia, 800 East Broad Street, Richmond, will be available to the public. (For more information at the Library of Virginia contact Jan Hathcock.) At the University Libraries on campus see the reference desk personnel for specific instructions for locating and accessing this information.
The archive is essentially a “data warehouse.” It is not catalogued or otherwise thematically organized. Documents are retrieved via a traditional keyword search via Google or Yahoo search engines. The materials were derived from electronically stored documents and scanned hard-copy documents. The archive contains records and e-mail correspondence related to Seung-Hui 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.
University legal counsel reviewed and scanned thousands of documents relative to the tragedy. Should the technology be sufficiently robust, the archive could 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.
This archive should not be confused with that produced by the university library special collections office. 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.