Friends of Tennessee Libraries

The Beginnings of FOTL

By Julie Webb
Founding Member of FOTL

juliewebbFriends of Tennessee Libraries was actually the brainchild of Patricia Watson, director of the Knox County Public Library in 1992 and president of TLA that year.

Knowing that Tennessee was one of two or three states without a statewide Friends organization and sensing the need for such groups to have more coordination, to share ideas, and to have a more effective presence with the legislators, Patricia set up a meeting for Friends and interested supporters during the annual TLA meeting which was in Nashville that spring.

As an active Knoxville Friend I was eager and willing to be involved.

We had the enthusiastic support of State Librarian and Archivist Dr. Edwin Gleaves and Secretary of State Riley Darnell.

Frances Darnell was at the state gathering, and I remember thinking that she was a “stem-winder” we had to have!

We contacted Tim Matheson, Upper East Tennessee lawyer and recent library school graduate, who quickly drew up our state charter and secured our 501(c)3 standing as a nonprofit organization.

The following spring Tim joined Dr. Gleaves at Legislative Day in Washington.

Friends across the state rallied around, and we were up and running! Tim Matheson served as our first president, and I succeeded him in 1993.