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A History of The Imperial Library

Over its twenty year history, the Imperial Library has seen many different site designs and web addresses. Looking back through the Library’s different incarnations is something of a trip back into internet history, as we see TIL transform from a tiny 9 megabyte fansite with webrings and a guestbook (who here remembers those?!) to the sprawling, Drupal-powered archive we are today.

The very first incarnation of the library, hosted at Xoom.com, has sadly been lost. The second version, at m0use.net, remains archived, and most of it can be explored. There’s a lot of fun stuff there, including pre-Morrowind releases of books like Mysterious Akavir; The Monomyth; Varieties of Faith in the Empire; Frontier, Conquest, and Accomodation; and the Five Songs of King Wulfharth. Later, books like those (written from an in-game perspective, but not (yet) included in a game) came to be called Obscure Texts or Out of Game sources, and the Imperial Library remains the biggest archive of them on the web. Sometimes, rather than TIL archiving unreleased game texts, fan-compiled information on TIL actually made it into the games, as was the case with the Book of Daedra (added to Morrowind under the same name).


Xanathar’s Library on m0use.net, circa August 2000

m0use.net was an internet server entirely dedicated to Elder Scrolls fansites, hosted by Bethesda but maintained by volunteers. It was also the home of the Tamriel Rebuilt mod project and the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages, both also still alive and well.

Our next big milestone came on July 27th, 2002, when Xanathar's Library was officially rebranded to focus solely on Elder Scrolls lore and be called The Imperial Library. This was also when we gained the brown canvas background and paper scroll navigation bar that stuck with us all the way to 2010.


Xan’s post announcing the change of pace


The Imperial Library’s first logo, with accompanying mouse-over text.

A year after, in August on 2003, m0use.net shut down and TIL moved first to til.gamingsource.co.uk and then, in 2005, to til.gamingsource.net. Most of the Library’s features and organization crystalized around this time, including the addition of storylines, obscure text archives, and plenty of articles.


The Library on gamingsource. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nostalgic for that brown background.


The logos for the Library on gamingsource.


Our forum, The Storyboard, circa 2005. A relic even back then.


The Storyboard in 2007. Much better!

The Imperial Library kept on chugging at gamingsource until 2007, when that host, too, began to shut down. In September of that year we finally moved to our own hosting and our own address - imperial-library.info, where we are today.

The final big update came in the summer of 2010, when TIL moved from pure HTML (every page needing to be written, updated, and linked by hand using markup, and uploaded through an FTP client) to Drupal, a flexible content management system that allows us to update and restructure the library without ever leaving it. Without Drupal, I don’t know how we’d have managed the thousands of books introduced in Elder Scrolls Online!

Finally, I leave you with a timeline of the Elder Scrolls series and of the many url’s of the Imperial Library. If you’ve got any fun pictures or memories from the older sites, please share them in the comments below!

 

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Happy 20th Anniversary, Imperial Library!

On this day in 1998, the Imperial Library got its humble start as Xanathar’s Library, a fan page dedicated to the worlds of Dragonlance and the Elder Scrolls, as well as Xan’s fan fiction and D&D in general. In the many years that followed, with the help of numerous dedicated fans, the Library transformed into the premier source for Elder Scrolls lore from both in and outside the games.

Thanks goes out to all our librarians and assistants, past and present, for their unique and innumerable contributions to this place: Xanathar, Sinder Velvin, Zeph, Raptormeat, Qwerty, Attrebus, B, Lorus, Adanorcil, Pilaf the Defiler, Proweler, Tailin Sero, Stygies VIII, Fiore1300, Acer, and Laurelanthalasa. Our article creators, contributors, and Forum Scholars Guild members also deserve heaps of praise - thought there are too many of them to list, this place would not be the same without them. We also owe thanks to everyone that has ever contributed information, submitted a tip or correction, helped us transcribe or track down media, or otherwise helped us out in even the smallest of ways. It takes a village. And, of course, to all the writers and artists whose work is housed in these pages - we wouldn’t be here without you!

Finally, a very special thank you to Xan for kicking this all off -  I believe that Elder Scrolls would be much worse off had you not started your humble fansite two decades ago.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, we will be hosting contests and giveaways throughout the month of September to commemorate the history of the Library and the Elder Scrolls lore community as a whole. I hope you'll join us in our celebrations.

Happy birthday, TIL! Here’s to twenty more!

~ Lady Nerevar

 


News post announcing the opening of Xanathar’s Library

Visit Summerset and the Clockwork City in Razum-dar's Journal

Razum-dar's journal, also known as The Alinor Codex, is now available in the library! This petite volume was part of the Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset Collector's Edition, and features the adventures of the titular Khajiit as he travels through the Clockwork City, a Daedric realm, and even into Artaeum to uncover a plot for Alinor's throne. Check it out under the Novels section in the sidebar. 

Many thanks to our friends at the UESP for doing the heavy lifting on this one.

Updated Guide to the Psijic Order

With Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset right around the corner, I've updated B's excellent Guide to the Psijic Order so everyone can catch up on the history and beliefs of these ancient monks, and get a little taste of what you can expect in the upcoming Chapter. 

Check it out right here

The Story of ESO: Clockwork City

The story of the Clockwork City for Elder Scrolls Online is now available in the Storylines section! If you're a fan of Sotha Sil, Nocturnal, or robots, this will be right up your alley.

Many thanks to Bird Person for transcribing the first two parts, and to Mazurah for letting us use her screenshots to transcribe and illustrate the story. 

Check it out!

New Maps

I've added a ton of new maps to the Library for your enjoyment. In addition to in-game maps from Elder Scrolls Online, we have several top-down satelite style maps from that game, extracted from the data files. Some of these maps were shot while the zone was still in progress, and offer interesting notes for the level designers. Here, for example, are the Morrowind regions of the game:

You may also be interested in this map of western High Rock, again extracted from ESO. It shows several locations that were removed or changed by the time the game was released. You'll see these crop up in the future as I add more datamined ESO quests to the Cut Content section.

Last but not least, two new fan made maps have been added to the gallery. The first, created by Dillon241 of the Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages, translates the small West Tamriel map into something that's actually readable using in-game loading screens, maps, and the art on the Redguard game box.

The second, created by yours truly, uses in-game data, official maps, lore mentions, and data mining to put together as complete a look at Tamriel in the 4th era as I could manage. 

Links to the Past

In my work for the Library, I spent the first month of the new year looking back into the years gone by. Our developer archives have always been one of my favorite parts of our collection, and they are now more up to date and easier to browse than ever. 

First, the Forum Archives section has been split into Post Archives and Thread Archives. The Post Archives document individual lore-related posts by developers on forums, websites, or social media, while the Thread Archives are backups of whole threads that feature interesting discussions or a lot of answers from developers. 

The Thread Archives now hosts each thread as its own book in the library, which makes them easier to read by cutting away all the clutter of the forum backup (signatures, post dates, etc.) as well as selectively editing down the posts so that only those pertinent to the discussion remain. The original backed up threads are also available, of course. Another bonus to this structure is that the threads now show up in searches. There are still quite a few threads to add to the collection, and if you've got any in mind that the original archives were missing, please let me know.

The Post Archives section has also gotten an expansion. Tons of new quotes were added to the pages for Ken Rolston, GT Noonan, Ted Peterson, Michael Kirkbride, and Lawrence Schick. The latter two have had their archives split into chronological sections. This both gives added context to the quotes and makes linking things easier. As with the threads, this section will continue to be updated in the coming weeks. 

While the Obscure Texts section saw no new additions, I did go through and add dates of publication to many of the texts. The dates provide much needed context to the works. Redguard Forum Madness, previously hosted under Obscure Texts, has moved to the Thread Archives. 

Last, but certainly not least, I added an "interview" with Julian "LeFay" Jensen, who was one of the chief programmers and designers behind Arena and Daggerfall, and is considered to be the "Father of the Elder Scrolls" because of it. The interview collects lore-related answers from a r/daggerfall reddit AMA conducted late last year. If you're interested in the origin of TES and in its evolution, this is a must read.

I'd also like to give a shout out to everyone who has provided me with links to old posts or with corrections to TIL's existing materials. Keep it coming!

Happy New Year!

Festive greetings, scholars!

2017 was a big year for the Library. In addition to Elder Scrolls Online keeping us very busy adding hundreds of new books, we added a number of new sections to our collection. Let's take a look back at some of our biggest additions. 

  • We started the year off with several new alphabet pages, including the Dragon and Mage scripts from Skyrim, the Akaviri script from Oblivion, and the Ancient Nordic runes from Elder Scrolls Online. 
  • Later on, we started documenting the main quest and DLC storylines for ESO. The story of the Daedric siege of the Imperial City and the waning of Vivec's power in Morrowind are both complete. 
  • The storylines of the latest addition to the TES family - Elder Scrolls Legends - have also been documented. You can check out its main quest here and the Fall of the Dark Brotherhood DLC here
  • With the release of ESO:Morrowind came an all-new, in-universe text for you to own: Naryu's Journal. It, too, is available in full on the library, with the generous help and permission of Zenimax Online and Lawrence Schick. 
  • After covering the recent releases, we took a look back in time to add all of the text from the very first Elder Scrolls game, Arena. While there are no actual books in that section, there are plenty of dialogs, place descriptions, and quests that let you see what Tamriel looked like in its earliest stages.  
  • We also added an interview and a gallery looking back at the nebulous time between Daggerfall and its sequel, which would eventually become Morrowind but once looked very, very different. 
  • The Astronomy and Astrology section was wholly redone to round out the year. 
  • We got a Discord server! It's pretty small and very informal, perfect for talking to some of the library patrons and staff in a casual setting. 

Last, but certainly not least, we've gained a few new staff members. Acer and The Lusty Dovahkiin have joined Tailin Sero (promoted late last year) as Assistant Librarians, and have already contributed greatly to the library. I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank others who help us out without a formal title - you guys are the best!

There are things to come in 2018, but for now, go forth and celebrate! 

Have a joyous, lore-filled 2018,

The Imperial Library Staff

New Astronomy and Astrology Section

Last month saw the total overhaul of our Astronomy and Astrology section. It features descriptions of the constellations and depictions of them from every game, alongside all new star charts, videos of the orreries we've encountered in our travels, information on the moons, as well as gifs and graphs to illustrate the celestial movements. 

It's located in the Religion & Mythology section of the sidebar, do check it out! 

Update Roundup: October

Happy autumn, everyone!

This month's big news is the addition of Elder Scrolls Online's Morrowind chapter storyline, transcribed by our newest Assistant, The Lusty Dovahkiin. She's been a long time community member and a bureaucrat on the Polish Elder Scrolls wiki, and we're happy to welcome her to the Imperial Library team. The Morrowind chapter strikes a balance between evocative familiarity and wholly new content, and should be an interesting read to any lore fan. 

Lusty has also updated our Meet the Character archives, which are now back up to date. All the entries are worth checking out if you've not seen them already, but the news ones are Naryu Virian, Eerika Skjoralmor, Sun-in-Shadow, Provost Aruni Arvel, Proctor Luciana, Dominaus the Bloody HornedDivayr Fyr

And, as always, I've been on book upload duty. Here's a few of my favorites from this month's crop: 

Finally, I've also added a Boethiah's Bidding to the Cut Content section. It was a quest intended to follow Skyrim's quest for the prince Boethiah, and features the player assassinating Elisif the Fair.