New State Library and Archives hosts opening ceremony

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Posted at 6:23 AM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 14:45:23-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF/AP)  — The Tennessee State Library and Archives hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of its new 165,000 square foot building.

Former U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, Gov. Bill Lee, former Gov. Bill Haslam, Senate Speaker Randy McNally, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill and others took part in Monday's event.

This building massively expands capacity by nearly 40%, from more than 540,000 items to nearly 760,000. The collections are extensive, with original historical documents, newspapers, biographies, letters, photos, films and sheet music -- plus so much more.

Also included in the new facility is a climate-controlled chamber. This will be used to safely store historic books and manuscripts with a space-saving robotic retrieval system. Staff will also be able to help save documents damaged by insects or water with a new blast freezer.

This project was massive, coming in with a $123.8 million budget.

It also has a collection of Tennessee newspapers, with the earliest dating back to 1791.

"One of my favorite things is the interactive exhibits in the lobby. We use technology throughout the building in new and different ways for us... and one of those is to have exhibits in the lobby that people can walk up to and touch the screen, interact with it and choose a county or a person or an event in Tennessee history and see some of the items we have pertaining to that topic," said Chuck Sherill, state librarian and archivist.

The state has been in the process of moving its collections and staff there. Work began in 2005 on the $123.8 million project and a groundbreaking took place in late 2017.