Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Holiday Reading Suggestions from the Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

Season’s Readings! It’s the end of the year, and time for the holidays. Long nights and short, cold days means that it’s the perfect time of year to find a new author or rediscover an old favorite. Here are some suggestions from Tennessee Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (TLBPH) staff members.



You can’t go wrong with some of the all-time Christmas classics, such as A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. TLBPH has several versions of this classic for all ages: for adults in braille, audio, and large print; for grades 2-4 in braille and audio; and for grades 4-7 in braille and audio. It’s also available from the braille foreign language collection in Spanish.

Some newer titles include books by best-selling current authors. John Grisham is famous for writing legal thrillers, but he also wrote the wonderful book, Skipping Christmas, which was adapted in 2004 as Christmas With the Kranks, starring Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Dan Aykroyd, Cheech Marin, and others. TLBPH has this book available in braille, audio, and large print.

From Debbie Macomber, writer of romance novels and Christian fiction, we have Call Me Mrs. Miracle, a story about how shopping for a Christmas gift can lead to romance. It’s available as an audio book and in large print.

One holiday classic the entire family can enjoy, and perhaps read aloud together, is How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss. TLBPH has it in braille, audio, and print/braille, and in Spanish audio. A new family favorite might be Caroline Kennedy’s A Family Christmas, a collection of her favorite Christmas stories, poems, songs and scriptures. It includes her own 1962 letter to Santa, written when she was five years old while living in the White House the year before her father was assassinated. TLBPH has the title in braille and audio.

Finally, for anyone who’s looking for something more hair-raising than ho-ho-ho, check out The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore on audio.

To find out more about the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped, go to: http://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/library-blind-and-physically-handicapped.

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

Graduate Student Provides Help to Tennessee's Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped

The Tennessee State Library and Archives was fortunate to have some outstanding assistance recently from a graduate student who attends Texas Women’s University.

Maggie Bootman, an Olive Branch, Miss. resident, is an online student in the university's master’s in library science program. She decided to pursue the internship in Nashville after visiting the Library and Archives' booth at the Southern Festival of Books.




While in Tennessee, Maggie provided valuable assistance to the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (LBPH). She verified that, in accordance with federal guidelines, the statuses of all of the LBPH’s 671 registered mililtary veterans were given priority in our automated circulation system. This enabled the LBPH to send “thank you for your service” cards to all of the library’s registered veterans in observance of Veterans’ Day.

Maggie also reviewed the library’s records for 298 different book series, ensuring that they were entered consistently and in proper reading order. This helps the LBPH’s reader advisors ensure that, for example, book six of a series is not sent to a patron before preceding books in the series. She made a great start on a big job, since the library’s collections include more than 800 series.

In addition, Maggie entered book cover information and subject codes for books that others downloaded from the Internet to ensure they would be circulated properly. She also cataloged, processed and entered new titles in the LBPH’s large print collection.

Thanks, Maggie, for all of your efforts! We miss you and your work!

For information on internship and volunteer opportunities at the State Library and Archives, go to: http://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/interns-and-volunteer-program

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

Friday, December 4, 2015

Comb Graves of Tennessee

The Tennessee State Library and Archives recently processed a number of 'born' digital images of comb graves. (Born digital items are those originally created in a digital format, not converted from paper to digital.) Tennessee has the highest concentration of comb graves in the South. While they can be found in other states such as Kentucky and Alabama, Tennessee has the most, located mainly along the Cumberland Plateau. So what are comb graves and why are so many found in Tennessee?

Comb graves in Polk-Bilbrey Cemetery in Overton Co., Tenn. Picture taken in the 1970s.

Comb graves, sometimes called tent graves, have slabs of rock (or other materials) that cover the length of the graves. The stones lean against each other to form inverted v-shapes, like the gables of a roof. The word “comb” is an old architectural term that refers to that part of a roof. Graves of this type started showing up in cemeteries around the 1820s and were popular until the mid-20th Century when their use declined. While many of these graves have no inscriptions, it is not unusual to see them inscribed or marked with separate headstones. While no one knows for sure why people began to cover the graves of their loved ones, one theory is that the stones were to protect the graves from weather or from animals.


Comb graves in Roaring River Cemetery, Overton Co., Tenn.


Comb graves in Liberty Church Cemetery in Overton Co., Tenn.


Dr. Richard Finch of Tennessee Tech has been investigating comb graves for several years and has discovered that while they can be made from anything from sheet metal to marble, the vast majority are made from sandstone. This sandstone is from the Hartselle rock formation, which is found in the area along the Cumberland Plateau where comb graves are prevalent.

Not much else is known about these graves, except that due to many factors, including weather and vandalism, they are slowly disappearing from cemeteries. To make information about comb graves accessible to the public, Dr. Finch has given a copy of his research and photographs to the State Library and Archives. This all-digital collection contains thousands of photographs, as well as his published articles and other research materials.

Comb grave of William Livingston in Oakley Cemetery in Overton Co., Tenn. Picture taken in the 1980s

Comb graves in Highland Cemetery in Overton, Co., Tenn.


To see a selection of comb grave photographs and to view an interactive map showing the locations of these graves, go to our Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tsla. For more information on comb graves, visit the State Library and Archives website and use the finding aid for the Richard C. Finch Folk Graves Digital Photograph Collection: http://share.tn.gov/tsla/history/manuscripts/findingaids/2013-022.pdf


Text and research for this blog post contributed by Celeste Happeny, written while she worked as an intern with the State Library and Archives Digital Work Group. During her internship, Celeste attended the folk studies and historic preservation program at Western Kentucky University.



The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.