Wednesday, May 23, 2018

May is Mindfulness Month

By Heather Fach

May is Mindfulness Month…the perfect time to take a step back from our busy, chaotic lives and fully engage. But where to start? The word “mindfulness” connotes meditation or spiritual practice for some. In short, mindfulness is a full awareness of one’s surroundings within the present moment. When incorporated into daily life, benefits can include greater mental clarity and acuity, a more relaxed state of mind and improved quality of personal relationships. Some studies have also indicated that those who practice mindfulness exercises tend to be physically healthier than those who do not.

Some of the more recent books on the subject of mindfulness that are available from the Tennessee Library for Accessible Books and Media approach the topic from different perspectives: psychological (The Mindfulness Solution by Ronald D. Siegel), neuroscientific (Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel J. Siege), and Taoist (The Urban Monk: Eastern Wisdom and Modern Hacks To Stop Time and Find Success, Happiness, and Peace by Pedram Shojai). Whether you’re a newcomer to the subject or have practiced for years, each author offers practical advice to improve one’s well-being.

Of course, mindfulness is at the center of Buddhist tradition, but one need not be Buddhist to reap the benefits of meditation. An excellent introduction is The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation by Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Hanh’s other works including How To Relax, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life, and Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise each examine practical applications for mindfulness training.

All of these titles are available in audio format and How to Relax and Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise are also available in braille

In the midst of a busy day, it’s difficult to live in the present…but it doesn’t have to be!

Tennessee Library for Accessible Books and Media is a section of the Tennessee State Library and Archives and the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Meet the Staff... Casey Gymrek

Meet Casey Gymrek. She is an education specialist with the Archives Development Program department.

How long have you worked here?

I have been with the Tennessee State Library and Archives since September 2016, but it feels like yesterday was my first day!

What are some of the things you do as an education specialist?

“Sooo…what exactly is it that you do?” This is easily one of my favorite questions that I receive on a daily basis! While my day-to-day duties often change from one week to the next, my main job is to serve as a middleman between the K-12 and college student and teacher communities and the Library and Archives. Introducing these patrons to the Library and Archives can be performed in a variety of ways. For student research visits, our Education Outreach team typically travels to the students’ classrooms and gives a brief (but fun!) instruction on tips for researching our collections. Once on-site, we work with those students to mine our precious materials for their class projects. As an education specialist, I also frequently travel the state conducting professional development workshops for teachers in order to introduce them to our digital collections and related resources (​) that correspond to their curriculum standards. One of my newest roles is managing our newly-launched DocsBox (​) program, a “traveling archives” experience for Tennessee classrooms. Lastly, I attend important education conferences to share our resources and receive inspiration from other educators for future programs and activities.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Believe it or not, this is actually a really tough question to answer! I absolutely love traveling the state and meeting students and teachers from all over Tennessee while learning little pockets of local history from these treasured communities. Connecting our resources at the Library and Archives to students and teachers in the different grand divisions is a special treat for this historian! Witnessing firsthand the excitement students express when engaging with our historical documents is both amazing and encouraging. I can’t wait to see what is in store for Tennessee teachers and students in the coming years at the Library and Archives.

Do you have a favorite collection?

Another challenging question! With sources ranging from Governors’ Papers to rare and intricate maps, it’s hard to pick just one! Recently, one of my favorite collections is our World War I Gold Star Records (​). Local history from all points of view and perspectives is extremely important to me and the World War I Gold Star collection is a great way to explore the national story of America in World War I through the lens of young Tennesseans from all walks of life. From these records, researchers of any age get a touching glimpse into the past through a very personal and human story.

What makes libraries and archives relevant to modern society?

Libraries and archives are more important than ever in today’s society. As communities both in Tennessee and other states change and grow, it is becoming increasingly critical that these new residents find their own place in the histories of their homes, schools and towns. Local stories from the past resonate with people, both young and young-at-heart, so our libraries and archives have a unique opportunity to bridge together people from the past, present and future.
The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State

Monday, May 14, 2018

Original Constitutions, Workshop Planned for Statehood Celebration

The Tennessee State Library and Archives will put all three of the state’s original constitutions on display to the public in commemoration of Statehood Day. The constitutions are typically protected in a vault, but all three versions will be in the Library and Archives’ lobby for public viewing June 1 to 2 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT.

“Seeing these wonderful documents makes Tennessee history come alive,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “Not many Tennesseans can say they’ve seen one of our constitutions up close, much less all three. Hopefully, this exhibition will demonstrate how the Library and Archives works tirelessly to protect and chronicle our great state’s history.” 

As part of this celebration, the Library and Archives will also host a free lecture on Tennessee’s first governor John Sevier and Tennessee’s road to statehood. Gordon Belt, Library and Archives Public Services director and author of the book John Sevier: Tennessee’s First Hero, will discuss how Tennessee became a state and the prominent role Sevier played in Tennessee's early history, eventually becoming the state’s first governor.

The lecture will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. CDT Saturday, June 2, in the Library and Archives auditorium. The Library and Archives is located at 403 Seventh Ave. N., directly west of the Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville. Free parking is available around the Library and Archives building.

Although the lecture is free and open to the public, registration is required due to seating limitations in the auditorium. To reserve seats, please visit

Viewing the state constitutions is free. No reservation is required.

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

Monday, May 7, 2018

Tennessee Teen Tech Week Scavenger Hunt

By Kate Greene Smith, Youth Services and Special Projects Coordinator

Earlier this year, eight Teen Advisory Boards (TABs) from public libraries across Tennessee participated in the first Tennessee Teen Tech Week Scavenger Hunt. TABs had a week to complete challenges that included making videos, building websites, using Tennessee Electronic Library databases, downloading ebooks from R.E.A.D.S. and shelving books. Each challenge earned the team points. TABs from the following libraries participated:

  • Cleveland Bradley County Public Library
  • Fred A. Vaught Public Library
  • Johnson City Public Library
  • Middleton Community Library
  • Smyrna Public Library
  • Spring Hill Public Library
  • Watertown Wilson County Public Library
  • Washington County Public Library

The winning team was from Smyrna Public Library with a grand total of 950 points. The team won a Maker Space Kit for its library, which includes the following items:

  • A LEGO WeDo Education Kit 
  • A Sphero SPRK+ robot 
  • A MakeyMakey classic set 
  • A SparkFun PicoBoard 
  • A Makerspace Beginner Tool Kit 
  • A MakeDO Toolset 
  • A Straws and Connectors Set 
  • The Big Book of Maker Space Projects 
  • The book “Maker Lab”

The Maker Space Kit was presented to the Smyrna Strikers team Thursday, April 26, 2018. Here are a few pictures of the presentation and the teens putting the items to use...

The Smyrna Strikers are the Teen Advisory Board at Smyrna Public Library. Rita Shacklett, Director of the Rutherford County Library System, and Liz McLuckie, teen services librarian were with the youth when Kate Greene Smith, Youth Services and Special Projects Coordinator for the Tennessee State Library and Archives, presented the Maker Space Kit.

The teens immediately took the kit and began using the supplies.

This program was developed as an effort to expose teens to library technology, engage them in library programming and provide them with a chance to win innovative materials for their libraries. Teen Services Librarians made the following reports after the completion of the event:

“Kids loved THE LIST, thank you. It taught them GREAT Team Work skills, communication, organization and appreciation for the strengths and weaknesses of their peers.”

“Teens learned to use Google forms like pros and I learned how to use Snapchat. YouTube taught us all how to compress videos and a good time was had by all. Thank you for this cool opportunity!”

“Thank you for the opportunity to participate in the 2018 Teen Tech Week Scavenger Hunt! We started an after-school code club this year. We have been able to learn HTML, CSS, and Bootstrap while building a website. We have also worked on Makey Makey projects as well as origami projects that mixed paper with LED lights.”

“Possibly one of the most important outcomes of these students engaging with each other and with our librarians is that they are interested in becoming an active TAB, a board that helps with summer reading and mentoring younger coders and makers.”

Liz McLuckie is building a Makey Makey piano from aluminum foil. The students on the floor are making an igloo out of connectors and straws. The young man in the back is experimenting with the LEGO Education Set, and the young woman on the right is programming the Sphero SPRK+ robot.

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

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Free online resources for Tennessee students and job seekers available through TEL!

By Andrea Zielke

Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) is excited about a standardized test prep and career advancement resource that is now available for free to all Tennessee residents just in time for upcoming AP, ACT and SAT test dates!

Tennesseans now have access to Testing & Education Reference Center (TERC) from Gale, a Cengage company, for standardized test preparation, researching undergraduate and graduate programs, finding tuition assistance and exploring careers. It includes practice tests for entrance exams, certifications and licensing exams. Whether you a student, parent or job seeker, TERC has information that can assist with all aspects of education and career exploration!

TERC includes:

  • Test prep: Full-length, timed practice exams that simulate the actual testing experience for GED, AP, ISEE, COOP, SSAT, CLEP, FCAT, SAT, ACT, PSAT, TAKS, GRE, LSAT, MCAT, MAT, TOEFL, TOEIC, U.S. citizenship and many others exams. Diagnostic pre-tests help students determine where they stand and how much preparation they need before taking an exam. 
  • College planning: Intuitive searches and quick results deliver information on more than 4,000 accredited schools, including school location, tuition, academics, admission requirements, campus life and much more. 
  • Financial aid tools: Benefit from an undergraduate scholarship search, financial aid award analyzer, college savings calculator, tuition cost finder and more. 
  • Career development: The resume builder and virtual careers library tools assist students in building essential career skills—like how to build a resume, cover letter and interviewing tips for users at all career stages. Using the career module, tests help users map interests and aptitudes to the most suitable job categories, industries and occupations. 
  • International tools: Helps individuals prepare to pass the TOEFL (iBT), TOEFL (PBT), TOEIC and U.S. Citizenship tests with online practice tests and eBooks.

Start preparing for your next test or career using TERC today by visiting your local library website or TEL at

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