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Looking Back

As our month of celebration winds down, I wanted to reflect on how some of us first discovered this little corner of the internet, and some of the many, many wonderful memories made here.

Wow. Has it been that long already? The Library could be my younger sibling. :D

I once was a kid years old, in possession of an internet connection, and drive to be right. The Elderscrolls had a community that indulged me. I wielded the books in Library like a hammer of truth. Imagine people getting literally gobsmacked by citations and excerpts. And in doing so I met new people, learned new things, made friends and in general had a thing that carried me through highschool and a good part of univeristy. I eventually got into Software Engineering thanks to Ghan Buri Ghan and his Morrowind Scripting for Dummies, and that was a good thing.

Thanks for being there folks!

PS: The Dragon Break is totally like Git!

- Proweler

I first discovered TIL back when it was Xanathar's Library. I started reading everything I could on the site and fell in love.

- B

Honestly, I don't remember how I first discovered TIL. When I got into Morrowind back in 2003 or so, it just felt like it had always been there.

As to TIL-related memories: well, apart from meeting my SO, obviously, there's just too much to mention. In no particular order:

- The very first Storyboard. I'm not sure where that somewhat bizarre name comes from, but it lives on to this day. Nowadays it's just a standard forum integrated into the site, but before that it was a separate forum. Even before that, however, it was one of those 90s monstrosities, complete with animated gif header, where the entire forum was just one long list of threaded links. (See for yourself)

Now you might be thinking “man, technology sure has come a long way”, but the important takeaway here is that this absolute fossil of web technology was in use on the Imperial Library well into the 2000's. I cannot find the exact date, but I estimate we finally laid it to rest somewhere around 2006.

- I swear I am familiar with the internet post-2008, but I feel obliged to bring to mind another relic: the old #til IRC channel. Before the days of Discord and Facebook Messenger, IRC was an accessible and versatile medium for group discussions. That channel had constant activity, from actual meetings to complete nonsense.

-Adanorcil,  librarian 2006 – 2017

I can't remember exactly, but when I was first getting into the lore (while playing Oblivion+Skyrim) I found myself searching the web for the many questions I had about Ayleids, Dwemer, Dragons, Falmer, etc. and I would usually be shown links to TES Wiki, UESP, and TIL. Out of those three I found the formatting/layout of TIL to be, imo, easier to navigate. It was quick to find maps for when I finally started playing Morrowind and storylines for when I would inevitably get stuck in Daggerfall. Plus, no ads. :) Eventually, I joined and soon after became an Assistant Librarian. TIL and the lore community by extension has helped me out in more than just TES related stuff. It feels good knowing that now I am able to help it in return.

-Tailin Sero, Assistant Librarian

I discovered TIL probably when I googled something on the lore, knew about it for years. August 2018 marks a 3-year anniversary of me being a member; I made an account when I became more active in the community. Back then, when I started, I was an administrator of the Polish The Elder Scrolls Wiki for eight months already and that was a time of shifting from learning a ton of lore to sharing it and discussing, getting involved in forums, wikis and themed groups on facebook. I don't see the point of knowing things if you can't use, share or archive them. It's very hard to select a single TIL-related memory that is my favourite, or even a couple of them. I think it might be one of the first topics I brought up here, over two years ago, when I found Dwemer plans in The Elder Scrolls Online and posted them on forums to discuss. There is a sense of wonder and excitement when you find something unexplored in a new game and run to the forums to show others what you have found. There is another one, though. Once, on behalf of the Polish TES Wiki, I was organizing a meeting at Pyrkon, the biggest European fantasy convention. The meeting was for TES fans, it didn't really have a program, it was just drinking beer, eating sweetrolls and S'jirra's famous potato bread (Nerds' Kitchen made those dishes for us). I even managed to get a Polish Bethesda Community Manager there and have The Imperial Library as a patron of the event on facebook. It was special to me because all of those people, those knowledgeable about lore, those less knowledgeable, the Bethesda worker, wikia editors, cosplayers and Nerds' Kitchen food magicians (they really did some food magic, yes) sat there at the table and had fun together. Whether someone was just a gamer and fan of TES, or was someone with input into the community, they were all simply welcome. And happy to be there. I remember this event as an especially pleasant afternoon and evening. The potato bread was awesome.

-Stygies VIII, Assistant Librarian since 2017

What about you? How did you come to find us, and what memories have you made?

Giveaway! Your Favorite Lore on TIL

We here at the Imperial Library pride ourselves on hosting everything related to Elder Scrolls lore, whether it is in-game books, cut content, interviews, developer posts, storylines, maps, or anything else.

What’s your favorite item in our collection? Comment by Monday, October 1st to be entered into a drawing for a set of TES character pins or your choice of an Elder Scrolls game from Good Old Games!

Here are a few of our favorite pieces:

I would have to say the first Pocket Guide To The Empire. With its transparently propagandist tone and the critical commentary scribbled in the margins, it's a wonderful bit of world building. It has deservedly been one of the major foundations of the Elder Scrolls universe for two decades.

-Adanorcil, librarian 2006 - 2017

The Great War by Legate Justianus Quintius. Aside from being one of the few books from Skyrim that I have actually read all the way through, it gives tons of details about a really important piece of recent history in Tamriel, though the exact details of the White-Gold Concordat are still unknown (well we know like 3 conditions, but I'm sure there are more).

-Tailin Sero, Assistant Librarian

The first few that come to mind are The Thirty-Six Lessons of Vivec, The Black Arrow, and Surfeit of Thieves.

- B

Nu-Mantia Intercept, Song of Pelinal, Loveletter

- Xui

I really like Zeph's treasury. I've referred to specific blue links for Morrowind dialogue in a lot of online discussion over the past few years. It's an invaluable resource. You can tell a lot of effort was put into it, and it's a great resource.

-Pilaf_The_Defiler, one-time Librarian and Balmora Bandit

The entire Language & Arts section

-Stygies VIII, Assistant Librarian since 2017

Giveaway! Elder Scrolls Lore Quotes

Gaiden Shinji says that, “the best techniques are passed on by the survivors.” The best quotes are passed on by cool folks like you.

Comment on this post with your favorite Elder Scrolls lore quote, and get entered into a random drawing for cool prizes! One winner will receive one set of Elder Scrolls character pins, and another lucky person will get their choice of an Elder Scrolls game from Good Old Games!

Submitted quotes can also become part of the website’s random quote selection in the header. Winners will be randomly drawn on October 1st.

Here’s a few of our staff’s selections to get you guys started:

"And dragons were just stories. And the elves once ruled Skyrim. Just because something is, doesn't mean it must be." — Eorlund Gray-Mane

-Tailin Sero, Assistant Librarian

“Wake Up. We're Here. Why are you shaking? Are you ok? Wake up. Stand up. There you go. You were dreaming. What's your name?” — Jiub

- Xui

The 36 Lessons of Vivec contain a section where Vivec has to destroy eight monsters that he has unwittingly released upon the world. When he sets out to kill the last and mightiest monster, he takes along Nerevar, his friend and commander. The creature turns out to be an unassuming mortal who accepts death willingly. Nerevar is confused at this. Why would Vivec need his help if he knew the creature would not resist? The dialogue continues as follows:

Vivec said, 'I brought you here because I knew the mightiest of my issue would succumb to Muatra without argument, if only I gave him consolation first.'

Nerevar looked at Vivec for a long time.

Vivec understood. 'Say the words, Hortator.'

Nerevar said, 'Now I am the mightiest of your children.'

- Adanorcil, librarian 2006 - 2017


"The dunes of time are ever shifting. Kings rise and fall, cities are razed and rebuilt, alliances are forged and broken - but honor, glory... legend remains." — Throne Keeper Farvad

-Stygies VIII, Assistant Librarian since 2017

"If you must be stupid, at least be amusing." — Sotha Sil

"Amazing, the ability to infer significance in something devoid of detail!" — Vivec

- B

"We make a special trip just for you. Same low price." I heard that one about a thousand times over a one year period and something about it always sticks with me.

- Pilaf_The_Defiler, one-time Librarian and Balmora Bandit

We Want Your Screenshots!

Tamriel is a continent of idyllic countrysides, bustling cities, mysterious dungeons, and fascinating personalities. For the next years in TIL’s life, we want to focus on illustrating all that Elder Scrolls has to offer, and for that we need your help!

Submit your screenshots below for a chance to have your photography accompany our articles, and to win a copy of the deluxe edition Prima guide to Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset, signed by the developers at Zenimax Online!

The prizes will be drawn at random on October 15th. They are:

  • One honorable mention winner will receive one set of TES character pins.
  • One grand prize winner will receive a copy of the deluxe edition Prima guide to Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset, signed by the developers at Zenimax Online, as well as one set of TES character pins.


The rules:

  • The screenshots submitted must be yours, but they do not have to be created exclusively for this contest.
  • Please post as many screenshots as you want, but more screenshots do not equal more chances to win.
  • For TESIII: Morrowind and later titles, screenshots must be free of UI elements (check out this guide from UESP for how to turn them off)
  • Screenshots must not be heavily modded or edited - they should be representative of what one can experience directly in the base game.
  • Please let us know what the screenshot depicts, as well as the name you wish to be credited as if we choose to use it!
  • NOTE: By entering this contest, you grant the Imperial Library the perpetual, nonexclusive right to use your screenshots on our website and social media. You will be credited by the name given above. 


Not sure how to get us your screenshots? You can upload them at a host like imgur, tumblr, dropbox, or google drive and then provide the links below. Alternatively, you can also email them to us at

Looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with!

TIL by the Numbers

Did you know that the Library currently houses over 4,000 ingame books? 4,184 to be exact! Since we collapse multi-volume texts into a single book (making something like the Lessons of Vivec one book instead of 36), the actual number of individual texts is quite a bit higher still. 

Taking up nearly half our virtual shelves, notes and correspondences are by far the biggest category. Here’s how the rest of it breaks down:

Over the last four years, our most read books have been:

Our most popular non-book articles, in that same time period:

Despite being entirely in English, visitors to the Imperial Library come from pretty much every country on Earth (including 3 people from Anguilla, 12 from Seychelles, and 175 from Brunei). In the past four years, people from these 10 countries have visited TIL the most:

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Canada
  4. Australia
  5. Germany
  6. Russia
  7. Brazil
  8. France
  9. Sweden
  10. The Netherlands

In the US, our most popular states are California, Texas, and New York -- which also happen to be the most populous states, so that makes sense. Least popular were Delaware, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Maryland, home of Bethesda Softworks and Zenimax Online, sits at number 21.


Giveaway! Favorite Elder Scrolls Lore Memory

The lore community has evolved a lot over the years. From developer posts on fansite messageboards during the development of Morrowind, to the spirited debates and lengthy roleplays on the old official forums, to the rise of Reddit and social media, the ways and places we discuss and create lore are always changing.

Comment with some of your favorite Elder Scrolls lore community memories below for your chance to win one of two cool prizes. One random winner will receive one set of Elder Scrolls character pins, and another lucky person will get their choice of an Elder Scrolls game from Good Old Games! Winners will be drawn on Monday the 17th.

Here are a few of the staff’s favorite memories to get you started:

It would have to be my first lore-related memory. The first time I clicked on a book in-game and realized that it contained stories about the game world I was exploring. This was during some fetch quest to a tomb in TES III: Morrowind, I believe. The book was "Homilies of Blessed Almalexia." It hooked me. I wanted to know more about this Almalexia and the places she visited, and the things she did. When I got to meet her as an NPC much later in an expansion, it felt like meeting a famous figure one reads about in an actual book. People who skipped a lot of dialogue and never read any lore books could still enjoy Tribunal, of course. That's the beauty of the lore as it's presented. It's optional, but in my opinion it deepens the experience immensely.
- Pilaf_The_Defiler, one-time Librarian and Balmora Bandit

Linguistic work at TIL or elsewhere. There is nothing like sitting in front of your laptop screen for hours and staring at Shalidor's Insights, to feel the satisfaction of deciphering a couple of lines of the mage's bad handwriting. There is nothing like reading Altmeri letters on a promotional artwork for TESO: Summerset. Solving linguistic mysteries and being able to post them somewhere so that others can easily see what is written somewhere always brings the best kind of satisfaction.
- Stygies VIII, Assistant Librarian since 2017

In the months (years?) surrounding Morrowind, many of the devs would frequent the Lore section of the Official Fourms. There were so many great interactions, stories, and role playing experiences with MK, Ted Peterson, Gary “GT” Noonan, etc.
- B

I think by favorite lore memory would either have to be discussing the script in the Akaviri journal from Oblivion with various members of the community, or the ongoing community project of trying to read Shalidor's handwriting in Shalidor's Insights from Skyrim.
-Tailin Sero, Assistant Librarian

Introducing the Fan Art and Fan Fiction Contest

One of the things that makes the Elder Scrolls community great is the awe inspiring amount and variety of fan works created every day. From photorealistic portraits of your ingame characters, to lighthearted watercolors, to lego recreations of your favorite locations -- and from character journals, to epic poetry, to essays on metaphysics -- the works of fans are what keeps the lore community going.

In celebrating our birthday, we also wanted to celebrate the awesome community of creators that have made Elder Scrolls the vibrant, diverse, and ever-evolving fandom it is today. As such, we’ve partnered with Bethesda and Zenimax Online to run a fan art and fan fiction contest to showcase your creations and let you win awesome prizes!

This contest will run from today (September 5th) to September 30th, at which point all submissions will be posted on our forums to be admired by everyone forevermore. Community voting will occur through October 15th, and prizes will be sent out in late October.

Here are the awesome things you can win in both contests:

  • Four Honorable Mentions (two art, two writing) will get a set of Elder Scrolls character buttons and 1500 Elder Scrolls Online Crowns.
  • Two Community Choice winners (one art, one writing) will receive a set of Elder Scrolls character buttons, 1500 Elder Scrolls Online Crowns, and their choice of one Elder Scrolls game from Steam!
  • The Fan Art Judge’s Choice winner will get a copy of The Skyrim Library, Book I: The Histories, signed by Todd Howard! They will also receive a set of Elder Scrolls character buttons, their choice of one Elder Scrolls game from Steam, as well as a journal and watercolor set to sketch their travels throughout Tamriel.
  • The Fan Fiction Judge’s Choice winner will get a copy of Tales of Tamriel, Book I: The Land and Book II: The Lore, both signed by Zenimax Online developers! They will also receive a set of Elder Scrolls character buttons, their choice of one Elder Scrolls game from Steam, and a journal to document their Tamrielic adventures.
  • All winners will be displayed on our front page and our social media pages, and all submissions will be posted on our forum.

Interested? Click here for the rules and specifics.

We can’t wait to see what you guys come up with!

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, has sadly been lost. The second version, at, 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, circa August 2000 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, shut down and TIL moved first to and then, in 2005, to 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 -, 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.