For once, something went wrong and it wasn't the fault of the Virginia Information Technologies Agency.
Upon arriving for work last Monday, researchers and librarians at the Library of Virginia discovered their entire computer system was down.
Initial attempts to report the issue to the state's tech agency, known as VITA, proved difficult, according to Jan Hathcock, a spokeswoman for the library. The Broad Street institution provides in-person and online research facilities for people as varied as state government officials, professional academics and amateur genealogical researchers across the globe.
A recorded phone message from VITA on the first afternoon of the outage reported that “There are no known issues to report.”
After a day without computers or answers, the library staff was informed that the issue was not software, computers or some kind of devious hacker.
Rather, it was an old-fashioned blown fuse.
Computers at the library remained down for the bulk of the week — from Monday, Dec. 28, nearly through the close of the holiday-shortened business week. Hathcock says the hold-up was difficulty in obtaining a necessary repair part.
VITA has been under fire for the past few months for what critics inside and outside state government say are critical lapses in oversight. Among criticisms are that the seemingly out-of-control state of Virginia's public-private partnership with Northrop Grumman, as well as control issues internal to VITA, have led to the loss of vast swaths of vital state data and costly interruptions in computer services for critical agencies.
In a message left with Style Weekly, VITA spokeswoman Marcella K. Williamson sounded both firm and relieved to report that this issue was one over which VITA had no control or responsibility.