The Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) offers free and valuable resources, and Kass VonWert, assistant director at Coffee County Lannom Memorial Public Library, encourages locals to take advantage of it.
Anyone with internet access can use the virtual library by visiting www.tntel.info.
“The Tennessee Electronic Library is a wonderful resource, and it’s for people of all ages,” VonWert said. “It is a virtual library that’s free for anyone to use in Tennessee. As long you have internet, you can go on the Tennessee Electronic Library’s website and have access to vast amount of information.”
TEL offers resources related to homework assistance, test preparation, career support and genealogy.
“If you are into genealogy, TEL has a Heritage Quest online,” VonWert said.
Heritage Quest online is a collection of genealogical and historical sources, with coverage dating back to the 1700s.
Individuals have a chance to search U.S. census records, full-text family and local history books and Freedman’s Bank records.
Freedman’s Bank records is an index to Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company’s registers of signatures of depositors. The Freedman’s Savings and Trust Company was incorporated in 1865 by an act signed by President Abraham Lincoln. The initiative aimed to create an institution where former slaves and their dependents could place and save their money. Freedman’s Bank Records is a valuable source for genealogists researching their African American heritage because of the amount of personal information recorded for each individual in it, according to www.tntel.info.
“You can look up and try to find out things about your family, things about your ancestors,” VonWert said. “And again, it’s free.”
The website offers access to numerous newspaper archives.
“They now have the Tennessean online, [dating] back to 1812,” she said. “One of our employees found obituaries for some of her family members. She was really excited about it.”
For those looking for jobs, the site offers various career tools.
“Using the resources, people can easily build resumes and enhance their workplace skills,” VonWert said. “For high schoolers, TEL has prep tests for the exams.”
There is also homework support for younger children, said VonWert.
Additionally, TEL offers various games and fun activities for the youngest learners.
TEL provides an abundance of health and wellness resources, as well, added VonWert.
TEL is a research tool, providing credible information, said VonWert.
“The biggest advantage is the accuracy of the information,” she said. “There is so much information out there that is just not accurate. TEL offers reputable information; you can trust it. [The administrators of TEL] look at the sources and make sure the information is good.”
TEL is managed by the by the Tennessee State Library and Archives.
Funding provided by the Tennessee General Assembly and the Institute of Museum and Library Service has made this virtual library possible.
TEL gives access to more than 400,000 electronic resources including magazines, scholarly journals, podcasts, videos, e-books, test preparation materials, federal census records and Tennessee primary source materials.
A number of nonprofit libraries, including Coffee County Lannom Memorial Public Library, participate in TEL and benefit from the wide range of information TEL databases offer.
TEL saves individual libraries money by providing essential reference materials, journals and newspapers. It is of special benefit to smaller and rural libraries, according to www.tntel.info.
“Smaller libraries can’t afford all these resources, so when they’re available through the state, they can concentrate their money and focus on their community and not on some of the big subscriptions they wouldn’t be able to afford,” VonWert said.
In 2006, the Tennessee legislature allocated $1 million per year to expand TEL. Since then, additional funds have been added.
Elena Cawley may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.