The Tennessee Electronic Library (TEL) is a virtual library that you can access from your home pc, your school library computer lab, or your iPhone – anywhere with an internet connection. TEL provides access to over 400,000 electronic resources, including magazines, scholarly journals, podcasts, videos, e-books, test preparation materials, federal census records, Tennessee primary source materials, and more!
In 1999, the Tennessee Electronic Library was created by the Tennessee Legislature. Rep. Matt Kisber, D of Jackson, and Sen. Ward Crutchfield, D of Chattanooga, sponsored the bills in the House and Senate respectively. An intense lobbying effort on the part of the entire library community in Tennessee, especially Tenn-Share, TLA, and FOTL, succeeded in convincing local representatives and senators to vote for the creation of TEL. Bills in both houses were approved unanimously.
All library groups working together are responsible for the success of this effort. Because we all worked together, we have a Tennessee Electronic Library.
In 2006, Aubrey Mitchell, retired University of Tennessee Associate Dean of Libraries, and Cathy Evans, Director of Libraries for St. Mary’s Episcopal School, Memphis, Tennessee, serving as co-chairs of the Tenn-Share TEL II Committee, brokered an agreement to include Literature Resource Center in TEL using the NPR model to fund the database. They contacted Tenn-Share member libraries throughout the state to contribute to the database so that all could have access.
Tenn-Share was also instrumental in helping TEL to reach the long-time goal of securing recurring state funding. In 2006, the Tennessee legislature allocated 1 million dollars per year to expand TEL.
Since additional funds have been added, TEL has grown into a resource of 70 databases supplied by six vendors. In addition to the Gale collection of databases, TEL resources include LearningExpress Library’s test preparation database, the genealogy database HeritageQuest online, and World Book Encyclopedia.
In an effort to continue to expand the materials available through TEL, the Tennessee State Library has added Volunteer Voices, a statewide digital collection from Tennessee institutions, and the Tennessee Virtual Archive, a digital repository of Tennessee History and Culture, to the list of available TEL resources. Volunteer Voices, another Tenn-Share initiative, and the Tennessee Virtual Archive, a program of the State Library and Archives, provide Tennessee students with direct access to primary source materials documenting the state’s rich history.
TEL saves individual libraries money by providing core reference materials, journals, newspapers and is of special benefit to smaller and rural libraries, since they could not afford these databases on their own.