Rutgers University librarians are helping to create a digital archive of thousands of artifacts collected after the Virginia Tech massacre, The Star-Ledger reports.
Among the artifacts being captured: some of the folder paper cranes that students and others made as a symbol of peace after the killings.
"The archive will provide powerful healing and powerful lessons for anyone who wants to examine any aspect of the tragedy," said Grace Agnew, Rutgers' associate university librarian for Digital Library Systems.
Digital archives of disasters are becoming a popular way to share the impact of artifacts. The September 11 Digital Archive contains more than 150,000 digital items, and there are plans to digitize thousands of artifacts collected after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
"Following the event, there was such an outpouring of concern, condolences and compassion that it becomes an event in itself that needs to be remembered, " said Eileen Hitchingham, Virginia Tech's dean of university libraries. "We got cards, banners, posters. Taking those and making them accessible is an important part of understanding how one grieves and moves on from this time."
Rutger's Agnew said preserving copies of the actual artifacts is critical.
"The heart of the archive is the artifacts they preserved," Agnew said, admitting that her own staff grew teary-eyed as they worked on the project. "They really capture the emotions that happened at Virginia Tech in a way that secondary analysis cannot."