TEELE or ‘Tartu in Fiction’: Database of Tartu Public Library

Ülo Treikelder
Tartu Public Library

Since 2005, the Tartu Public Library has been compiling a literary and culture historical website ‘Tartu in Fiction’. The database was born from the idea of presenting the city of Tartu as it is described in fiction: present texts about places, people or events connected with Tartu, but also about the elusive “spirit of Tartu” or some other aspects unique about the city, either its students, jackdaws, slum architecture or its cafes and the general atmosphere.

The term ‘fiction’ has been applied rather broadly, encompassing memories and reflections, selected works and sometimes even non-fiction texts, such as essays. Also, fragments of larger works are presented. The fragments and full works were tagged with keywords to facilitate search by topics. All other materials are linked to the texts, serving as illustrative materials. At the next stage the map of Tartu was added and photographs of the city from different times, as well as works of art and instrumental music continue to be added. Users can click on the interactive map linked to the database to search for text fragments, photos, etc. about the site from different periods of time. We have started to add data about persons included in the database and plan to present the cover images of books.

The aim of the project is to safeguard our cultural memory, establish connections between the intangible and tangible space, introduce the local historical environment and provide assistance to schoolchildren, students, researchers or local history enthusiasts in locating and linking information and sources. Our further aim is to introduce Estonian culture abroad, but the first and primary aim is simply to encourage users to read and discover.

TEELE is not a scholarly database and its compilation criteria are inevitably subjective. Unfortunately, it cannot cover all interesting material available, such as, for example, research connecting literary history with the city space.