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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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Tailin Sero's picture
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Joined: 01/25/2014

cool.

Atvelonis's picture
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Joined: 08/12/2017

It's always fascinating to see how sites change over the years. Thank you for putting this together!

Stygies VIII's picture
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Joined: 08/18/2015

The more I look at this, the more I feel honoured to be able to expand this site. Thanks for putting this together!

Serevus's picture
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Joined: 09/06/2018

Something about the retro HMTL look is very appealing, especially the old logos. 

baumgartner's picture
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Joined: 12/23/2017

This is fascinating - some of the  early website names and visual legends bring back memories of late night surfing and FanFicing after the kids and wife had gone to bed ... the curse of Daggerfall addiction!

 

 

Ty the Humanoid's picture
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Joined: 12/31/2017

This was wonderful to read, thank you for putting this together! Because I feel that this history of the Imperial Library will be viewed by many in the future, I wanted to note an observation that would allow for the perfection of the article. I do not intend to seem captious, but on the 3rd line of the 2nd paragraph, I believe "alter," should be replaced with "After,". However, I may be incorrect, and perhaps it was intended that way, but I wanted to note my observation nevertheless. Regards.