Tennessee State Library and Archives

The Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA), established in 1854, currently operates as a unit of the Tennessee Department of State. According to the Tennessee Blue Book,[2] the Library and Archives "collects and preserves books and records of historical, documentary and reference value, and encourages and promotes library development throughout the state." This mandate can be found in Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 10, Chapters 1-8.

Tennessee State Library and Archives
Location403 7th Ave. N., Nashville, Tennessee
Coordinates36°9′56″N 86°47′7″W
Area1.4 acres (0.57 ha)
Built byRock City Construction Company
ArchitectH. Clinton Parrent Jr.
Architectural styleClassical Revival
NRHP reference #03001154[1]
Added to NRHPNovember 17, 2003

Although most states operate their libraries and archives as separate agencies, Tennessee is one of a handful of states whose library and archives are administered jointly.


The state library's original home (after a short stint in the Davidson County courthouse) was in the capitol building, while the archives were formerly housed in the basement of the state's War Memorial Building.

The current Library and Archives Building, designed by H. Clinton Parrent Jr. and opened in 1953, sits across the street from the Tennessee State Capitol in downtown Nashville. Built as a memorial to all veterans of World War II, the Library and Archives building was constructed at a cost of $2.3 million.

Tennessee's General Assembly joined the Department of Archives and History with the State Library in 1919 to create the State Library and Archives.

Library for Accessible Books and Media (LABM)

In 1970, a new division of TSLA, the Tennessee Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped (LBPH) was established. On March 9, 2018, the LBPH changed its name to the Tennessee Library for Accessible Books and Media (LABM)[3].

This division's collections consist of public library type books and magazines in audio, braille and large print formats, as well as players for the audio books. The LABM's collections are loaned to Tennesseans who have physical disabilities which prevent them from using standard print. The materials are delivered to the individual patron's home address utilizing the U.S. Postal Service's "Free Matter" mailing privilege.

Disabilities which make a Tennessee resident eligible to use the service are: blindness; visual disability; manual dexterity problems, which prevent holding a book and/or turning pages; and reading disabilities.

The Tennessee LABM is a cooperating library with the National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped[4]/Library of Congress.

Holdings and collection highlights

The Tennessee State Library and Archives currently holds nearly 700,000 print volumes, over a million photographic images, thousands of vertical files, microfilm reels, and legislative audiocassettes. Archives and manuscripts collections are housed in nearly 40,000 feet (12,000 m) of storage. The Library for Accessible Books and Media holds approximately 240,000 items.

TSLA holds the most comprehensive collection of Tennessee newspapers, which dates to 1791.

Future planning

Plans are currently underway for the Library and Archives to relocate to a new building adjacent to Nashville's Bicentennial Mall State Park. The new building, to be designed by Tuck Hinton Architects, PLC-Thomas, Miller & Partners, LLC Joint Venture (THA-TMP JV), will be one of several cultural institutions flanking the Bicentennial Mall, including the Tennessee State Museum and the Museum of African-American History and Culture.

Tennessee State Librarians and Archivists, 1854 to present

  • W.B.A. Ramsey, ex officio librarian (1854–1855)
  • F.N.W. Burton, ex officio librarian (1855–1856)
  • R.J. Meigs, State Librarian (1856–1861)
  • John E. Hatcher, State Librarian (1861)
  • Augustin Gattinger, State Librarian (1864–1869)
  • W.H. Wharton, State Librarian (1869–1871)
  • Mrs. Paralee Haskell, State Librarian (1871–1879)
  • Mrs. Robert Hatton, State Librarian (1879–1887)
  • Mrs. Sue P. Lowe, State Librarian (1887–1891)
  • Mrs. Linnie Williams, State Librarian (1891–1895)
  • Mrs. Irene Ingram, State Librarian (1895–1897)
  • Miss Pauline Jones, State Librarian (1897–1899)
  • Miss Jennie E. Lauderdale, State Librarian (1899–1901)
  • Mrs. Lulu B. Epperson, State Librarian (1901–1903)
  • Miss Mary Skeffington, State Librarian (1903–1919)
  • John Trotwood Moore, State Librarian and Archivist (1919–1929)
  • Mary Brown Daniel Moore, State Librarian and Archivist (1929–1949)
  • Daniel M. Robison, State Librarian (1949–1961)
  • William T. Alderson, Jr., State Librarian (1961–1964)
  • Sam B. Smith, State Librarian and Archivist (1964–1969)
  • Wilmon H. Droze, State Librarian and Archivist (1969–1972)
  • Katheryn Culbertson, State Librarian and Archivist (1972–1982)
  • Olivia K. Young, State Librarian and Archivist (1982–1985)
  • Robert B. Croneberger, State Librarian and Archivist (1985–1986)
  • Edwin S. Gleaves, State Librarian and Archivist (1987–2005)
  • Jeanne Sugg, State Librarian and Archivist (2005–2010)
  • Charles Sherrill, State Librarian and Archivist (2010-current)


  • Moore, Mary Brown Daniel. "The Tennessee State Library in the Capitol." Tennessee Historical Quarterly 12.1 (1953): 3-22.
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