Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Meet the Staff - Erin Lankford

Meet Erin Lankford. She is a Reader Advisor with The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

How long have you worked here?

I made the move to Nashville in January 2016, and have been right here ever since.

What are some of the things you do as a Reader Advisor?

I take the calls of the patrons, meaning I am on the phone all day long! I take patrons requests and make sure they get some great reads shipped right to their door. If they don’t know what to read next we suggest great titles based on their interests. I also handle most of the programming for our library including our call in Storytime for children with a Visual Handicap. This unique program has a great following and happens once a month. Check out our awesome Youtube video about how our story time is changing little readers’ lives!

What is your favorite part of your job?

I love making this library known to the public and meeting people who need our services who didn’t know we were out there. Could you imagine not just losing your vision, but also having to give up your reading? That is simply a world I could not live in. Luckily I get to tell people every day that books are still completely within their reach. The joy that our books bring to people’s lives makes the craziest days worth it in the end.

Do you have a favorite collection?

My favorite collection here is the print braille collection that is run by us! I believe in reading. And seeing these books made with both print for sighted children and braille for visually impaired children reminds me that everyone is entitled to literacy. Audio books are wonderful inventions; we ship about 10,000 titles on audio a week! But to be able to read the book for yourself means so much more. And seeing these tools for early literacy for braille readers in a society that calls braille a dying art, gives me hope that braille will never die.

Erin hosts "Virtual Story Time," a new way to experience books. Click HERE to read more.


What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

I have been working in a library since 2005 and I believe that librarians are super heroes. Librarians are there for your whole life too! We help you become a reader, educate you and entertain you. Google can give you an answer, but a librarian can give you the right answer and tell you how to use it.


The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Monday, October 16, 2017

Effort to Digitize World War I Artifacts Heads to Chattanooga

Over a five-year period, World War I ravaged Europe, the Middle East and parts of North Africa, overturning governments and costing millions of lives. The United States joined the battle in 1917, eventually mobilizing more than 4 million soldiers and countless civilians who provided support for the war effort on the homefront.



The Tennessee State Library and Archives launched Over Here, Over There: Tennesseans in the First World War, a major effort to collect digital records of how World War I affected Tennesseans. Archivists travel throughout the state to digitally scan and photograph documents, maps, photographs, uniforms and other artifacts related to World War I that are owned by private citizens.

“We were overwhelmed by the response to our request for Civil War items, so we hope this project will help us create a rich record of World War I history as well,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Creating digital records of historical artifacts makes them easily available to anyone with internet access. It’s important that we do this now before more of these century-old items are lost or damaged beyond repair.”



The next event will be held at the Chattanooga Public Library, located at 1001 Broad Street in downtown Chattanooga. Items will be digitally recorded from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. Nov. 1 and from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Nov. 2. The archivists will not actually take possession of the items from the owners but will provide tips on how to care for these rare treasures.

People living in East Tennessee are encouraged to bring in letters, photographs, diaries, military records, maps, sketches, weapons, uniforms and other items related to the war. All items must be original (no photocopies or reproductions) and owned by the person bringing them to the event.

To reserve time with an archivist on one of those dates, email WorldWarI.tsla@tn.gov or call (615) 741-1883.

This is the fifth of several digitization events being held around the state, and the second in East Tennessee. Find more information about the project and upcoming events at sos.tn.gov/tsla/OverHere_WWI.

This event is part of the fall 2017 Great War Symposium.


The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Launches New Online Ordering System

The Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (TLBPH), a division of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, has a new online ordering system offering unprecedented access to patrons. The system is available 24/7 and can be easily accessed on a computer or mobile device.



Audio, braille and large books are available for free shipment directly to patrons' homes. Patrons can search by title, narrator, author and more. They can also browse new releases, staff recommendations and view their personal reading history.

“This new user-friendly system will create greater access to books for people with blindness or visual impairments, which is a principal goal of the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. I am proud we can create equal access to books and educational resources for all Tennesseans,” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

The service works with the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD) service allowing users to download books with one click.

“This fills a fundamental need in our community,” said Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped Director Maria Sochor. “We hope that the new system will encourage people with visual disabilities to take advantage of this invaluable resource.”

To access the system, visit accessiblelibrary.org or contact library staff regarding online ordering at 800-342-3308.


The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Folklife artists share their craft...

Please join us at the Library and Archives on Oct. 14 from 10 a.m. to noon to learn more about the soon-to-be-released digital collection and learn more about folklife in Tennessee.

We are excited that peach pit carver Roger Smith will be present as a featured artist at the upcoming event. Roger R. Smith of Culleoka, Tennessee, is a cattle farmer and retired meter reader for the Duck River Electric Company.



While he doesn’t consider himself an artist, he carves amazing figures out of peach seeds using only his pocket knife. Mr. Smith creates animals, reptiles, people and even an entire baseball stadium complete with peach pit players, spectators and automobiles. He estimates that each figurine takes about four to eight hours to complete. Mr. Smith’s work has been on display at the Tennessee State Museum as well as the White House where his Santa carving was displayed on the tree as part of Christmas at the White House before becoming a permanent part of the White House ornament collection.

In addition, former Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission Folklife Program, Robert Cogswell, will speak about the collection and old-time buckdancer Thomas Maupin will be performing. Although the workshop is free and open to the public, registration is required due to seating limitations in the auditorium. To reserve seats, please visit folklifetsla.eventbrite.com.


The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New World War I digital collection in the Tennessee Virtual Archive

By Allison Griffey

The Tennessee State Library and Archives has launched a new digital collection, Record of Ex-Soldiers in World War I, Tennessee Counties, 1917-1919. Visit the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA) to view the records of over 130,000 soldiers and sailors from Tennessee who served in the Great War: http://bit.ly/RG36TeVA.

Graeme McGregor Smith, Governor McCord and Mary Daniel Moore, State librarian and archivist, at the signing of the bill to build the new Library and Archives, 1947.


Service record information is arranged by county and includes age, place of birth, residence, unit in which the soldier served, enlistment and discharge dates. These service abstracts fill a gap left by the 1973 National Personnel Records Center fire, which destroyed the majority of Army personnel records between 1912 and 1960.

World War I service abstract for Sgt. Alvin C. York from the Record of Ex-Soldiers in World War I, Tennessee Counties, 1917-1919.


This collection began as an American Legion Auxiliary project spearheaded by Graeme McGregor Smith, mother of two World War I veterans. She mobilized Tennessee’s women to collect the records of soldiers and sailors to ensure that every Tennessean who served in the Great War would be remembered. In 1937, the legislature granted these compiled service records status as official public records of Tennessee and allowed for certified copies to be used in all courts.

“After all the History of a State is but the history of her people and when the Records of the ninety-five Counties of Tennessee are completed, Tennessee will have available a complete survey of its industrial and military man-power.” —Graeme McGregor Smith

Visit Record of Ex-Soldiers in World War I, Tennessee Counties, 1917-1919: http://bit.ly/RG36TeVA


The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Monday, September 18, 2017

Library and Archives Hosts Free Folklife Event

In partnership with the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Tennessee State Library and Archives will host a free event about folklife Oct. 14. Folklife is a multifaceted tradition which values oral stories, songs, art and many other cultural aspects.



The Library and Archives' abundant resources assert Tennessee as a premier resource for national folk studies. This upcoming event will highlight the publication of a large digital image collection consisting of approximately 22,000 photographs, slides, and negatives. Over 300 of these images will be released on the Tennessee Virtual Archive to coincide with the event, with the rest of the images to be published over subsequent years.

Dr. Robert Cogswell will speak about the collection he developed over three decades during his tenure as Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission Folklife Program. Dr. Cogswell retired from the Commission in 2014. Thomas Maupin, winner of the National Education Association’s National Heritage Fellowship award and renowned old-time buckdancer, will also perform. In addition, Roger R. Smith of Culleoka, Tennessee, will be on hand to talk about his craft. Smith carves figures from peach pits, including animals, reptiles, people, and even an entire baseball stadium complete with players, spectators, and automobiles. Smith’s work has been on display at the Tennessee State Museum as well as the White House. Free children’s craft activities will also be available during the event.



The event will be 10 a.m. until noon CDT Oct. 14 in the Library and Archives auditorium.

The Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Ave. North, directly west of the Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville. Free parking is available around the Library and Archives building. Although the workshop is free and open to the public, registration is required due to seating limitations in the auditorium.

To reserve seats, please visit: https://folklifetsla.eventbrite.com.


The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Meet the Staff - Susan Gordon

Welcome to another installment of “Meet the Staff.” Today, let’s meet Susan Gordon. She is an Archivist in Archival Technical Services (ATS).

How long have you worked here?

Since 1999.

What are some of the things you do as an archivist?

Aid in processing, evaluating, and analyzing manuscripts and preparing them for placement in the collections; I am part of a large team that summarizes court transcriptions for our Tennessee Supreme Court data project; I research historical events and participate in several of our very active committees. I identify historical context for letters, diaries, court cases, state legislation, and keep up on current events. (Nothing worse than an uninformed historian!)

What is your favorite part of your job?

It’s a hackneyed old answer, but I enjoy (nearly) all facets of my work. Processing family papers is at the top of the list. I very much enjoy the research required to assess the historical value of a collection. It’s an endless learning experience.

Another of my favorite responsibilities is editing finding aids, which our talented ATS folks write. These are guides to manuscript collections, state records, and governors’ papers. We assess their significance to Tennessee history. One has to be a little nosy to be a historian since you must summarize collection content. (Reading diaries and period correspondence--some intimate--is like reading other people’s mail.)

I serve on several committees. A committee such as Archives Review decides if donations and potential purchases will complement/widen the breadth of the collections. It keeps me aware of incoming documents. Exhibits Committee work is pretty obvious: we research, illustrate, and write copy for displays on topics as diverse as women’s suffrage, prohibition, and children. Great fun. Let me plug the upcoming exploration of Tennessee’s role in the Great War--that’s World War I.

Education Outreach gives us the chance to share our holdings with teachers and students. We have a remarkably able Outreach staff--they are a vital part of carrying out our institutional mission.

I’m biased, but I think my department (ATS) is one of the most important in our building. We take in manuscript donations, process collections and write their finding aids, and deliver documents to the Public Services Manuscripts Section for public viewing, the Digital Work Group for digitization, or to other archivists doing research. They count on ATS not only for delivery but also for helping to locate related collections. Access to manuscripts, state record collections, and governors’ papers originates in ATS.



Do you have a favorite collection?

Of course, I do! The Oliver Caswell King and Catherine Rutledge King Papers. Dozens of intimate letters tell the story of two East Tennessee lovers (yes, they get married) who get caught up in the Civil War. Their exchanges provide a social, political, and domestic framework of the times through correspondence, essays, and poetry. Anyone interested in antebellum/wartime courtship practices, college experiences, Civil War camp life, and life on the home front will find plenty here. The letters are not unlike those written in the next century: they reveal humor, sympathy, pain, jealousy, and intellect.

(View them online: http://tsla.tnsosfiles.com/digital/teva/sites/kingpapers/index.htm)

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

Libraries and archives exist to preserve and share the records that document our history. The State Library and Archives is a custodian of our state’s past, and that means preserving legislative records, governors’ papers, personal and family papers, books, atlases, and maps. Fulfilling our mission is a balancing act. May patrons handle historic documents? Or, do we strictly preserve the records of times gone by? Both. Often a researcher feels a connection to an original document. We are sensitive to that, so in certain situations and under strict supervision, a patron may work with originals. To keep us in the modern age, we are digitizing countless numbers of these documents. Making them available to the public in this way allows us to preserve them and share them at the same time.

For more than 10 years, I worked as a manuscript archivist in Public Services. I considered it important work. Soon after I moved to ATS, I realized how essential to our mission my new work was. Maybe in some small way I am helping scholars and family historians contribute to the historical literature.


The Tennessee State Library and Archives is a division of the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett