Thursday, January 18, 2018

Meet the Staff - Megan Spainhour

Meet Megan Spainhour. She is a Digital Imaging Specialist with the Digital Work Group.

How long have you worked here?

Since September 2013.

What are some of the things you do as a Digital Imaging Specialist?

I work fulfilling both patron and internal orders. This typically means scanning, printing and preparing maps, photos, letters, and many other items that are requested from our collections. I work with authors, publishers, researchers, genealogists, filmmakers, and several other types of patrons who are interested in obtaining copies of images in either digital or print form. Orders that I receive can vary from working with microfilm to printing out large maps, sometimes up to 5 feet. I also assist as a staff photographer and organize our group’s “Learn The Collections” program, in which each of us in the Digital Work Group is assigned a random collection every two weeks to learn and present to the rest of the group.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Learning history. I moved to Tennessee in 2010, and really didn’t know that much about the state’s history before I worked at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. I learn so much every day and to be able to hold and see original items in your hands is both fascinating and amazing. It is easy to put yourself in the shoes of that original creator writing that letter or taking that historical photo. I also love working and communicating with patrons who have struck gold in their research, and have found something they are excited about. I have a lot of fun fulfilling those orders.



Do you have a favorite collection?

With the wide variety of treasures we have here at Tennessee State Library and Archives, I cannot just narrow it down to one. A few of the top favorites are The Grassmere Collection, Genealogical Charts Collection and TSLA Map Collection. Some of my co-workers and I are currently working on a project with the Grassmere Collection, which has an amazing story to tell. I encourage our patrons to visit, pull anything that sounds interesting from our collections, and just learn. You can find some pretty intriguing stories when you have got the time to learn.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

History. History will never go out of style. There is always something to gain from researching and learning about our ancestors and our past. They say history repeats itself, which cannot be denied.


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

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Utilizing digital scanners in your research

By Heather Adkins

At the Library and Archives, we strive to stay up to date on the best technology to better serve researchers. This includes three types of scanners that have proven very popular.

Microfilm readers look different today from the crank machines created decades ago. Though we have readers hooked to printers, more often researchers utilize our microfilm scanners. There are several benefits to using scanners rather than printers. Foremost, scanning allows researchers to have a master digital copy without risk of ruining or losing a paper copy. A digital copy also lets researchers send copies to friends and family and print innumerable copies without the cost. Speaking of cost, scanning microfilm to your flash drive is free. Using our printers costs $0.25 per page, which makes scanning more economical. Researchers can utilize digital scanners to scan anything from microfilmed newspaper articles, state records, manuscript collections, county records and vital records.

Tips for using microfilm scanners:

  • Zoom into newspaper articles as far as possible rather than scanning the entire page. If you scan the entire page, the scan may not be high enough resolution to zoom into the article later.
  • If the record has more than one page, you can scan a multipage PDF. Ask a staff member to show you how!





Book scanners get a lot of traffic in the library. Researchers who use our book collection often want to take copies of a few pages home with them. These scanners allow for that: just insert a flash drive and scan – it’s that simple! The book scanners are built with an adjustable bed, designed to relieve pressure on a book’s spine while still allowing for a flat page spread. Like the microfilm scanners, the book scanners are free to use. Using the photocopy machine is $0.15 per page, so again scanning is a better deal. Also, like the microfilm scanners, the book scanners give you a master digital copy.

Not sure what you can scan? We’ve seen all sorts of books scanned – city directories, county record transcripts, atlases and histories. That said, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine use under copyright. Find out more about that here. [https://sos.tn.gov/products/tsla/use-library-archives-materials]

Tips for using the book scanners:

  • You can adjust page settings before saving the scan to your flash drive. The page borders are adjustable, and you can limit the scan to one page or the entire spread.
  • If you want more than one page from a particular book, you can make a multipage PDF. Ask a staff member to show you how!





Researchers can access both microfilm machines and the book scanners when visiting the Library and Archives. However, there is one more scanner that researchers frequently use without realizing it. The map scanner is a large flatbed machine used by our Digital Work Group (DWG) for researcher requests and programs like Education Outreach, Exhibits and the Historical Maps Digital Collection. To date, DWG has scanned nearly 600 maps of a collection of over 4,000, and they scan about 10 more every month with the help Archival Technical Services and Archives Development Program staff who research and write metadata.

Although DWG does not scan researchers’ personal items, they do take requests for specific collection items. Are you interested in finding a map of where you live or Tennessee as a new state? You can look them up on the Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA). Though only a portion of the map collection is currently scanned, you can search through the entirety of the collection here. [https://sos.tn.gov/tsla/maps]

Tips for researching and ordering maps:

  • When searching for maps at the above link, type keywords in the “Search Maps” bar.
  • You can order high-resolution scans or prints of items, and you can also download lower resolution images directly from TeVA.
  • Ready to order a map? There are a couple details that you will need to fill out the order form. Please include either the ID# (if there is an image available online) or the Location (if there is NOT an image available online). The ID#, location and other descriptors are available in the metadata for each map.



Scanners accessible by the public save to flash drives. If a researcher forgets theirs, we provide flash drives at our cost to purchase them as a service to our visiting researchers. Have a question about how to use the scanners? Our Public Services staff is here to help. We’ll get you scanning records in no time!


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