Library of the White Tower

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Announcing the opening of the Library of the White Tower!

Well, almost. ;) Iím opening the Library Council forum to everyone. The Library itself will be empty for a while.

The in-progress version can be viewed - here -

Now let me explain the Library and the purpose of the Council.

The Library of the White Tower is going to be the most authoritative Tolkien FAQ ever. Iíve seen some good ones around, but almost all have last been updated sometime in 1999. The ones that are active tend to mix apples and oranges by trying to combine a Tolkien FAQ with a name glossary, song index, and other features. In addition, the same stock answers tend to be floating around without enough effort paid to explaining the reasons behind these sometimes-complex answers.

This isnít going to be a cut and paste job from all the old FAQs out there. Weíre going to treat each topic like a new issue and try to present all the evidence in one place.

The Council is where this discussion will take place. This forum is for presenting and debating evidence for the issues currently on the table, bringing new information about issues already submitted to the Library, as well as discussing the format and layout of the Library itself. It is NOT the place for asking questions or idle chat. Thatís what the main forums are for. The Council is going to be highly focused on the goal of the growth of the Library. If your comments donít add to the resolution of a topic, they donít belong in the Council. The only questions I will accept are those made during an active debate that drive the discussion and those that are presenting a new issue for the Council to explore. If it becomes a problem keeping a flood of irrelevant posts out, I will restrict access to the forum to only those who request it personally. Hopefully, for the sake of the community, this wonít be necessary.

Whenever a topic has been explored to everyoneís satisfaction, I will submit an entry to the Library. Itís hard for me to describe how it will look since it isnít created yet. The main page will show an overview of topics much like a table of contents. These topics can be resorted by a number of criteria, including Difficulty and Obscurity, Race and Species, Ages of Arda, Geographic Location, Source Text, and any others the Council decides on. This advanced sorting is a feature I havenít seen anywhere else and should make looking up a particular question very easy.

Each topic will have a whole page devoted to it to give it the room it needs to be thoroughly explained. Once an entry has been made in the Library, the issue is not dead. If anyone has new information or a new point to make, simply add a response to the topic in the Council forum.

Another mistake made by many FAQs is to neglect to explain how there might be no definitive answer to a question. The Balrog wings question is a good example. There is no right or wrong answer to this since Tolkien was ambiguous in his explanations. Not only will we present each opinion on the matter with all the evidence, but we will clearly state that each side might be taken as a valid opinion and leave it to the reader to decide.

In a related point, very few FAQs differentiate between the validity of the various texts comprising Tolkienís work. The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings can be taken as gospel truth since they were published by the man himself. The Silmarillion, History of Middle Earth, and even the Letters of JRR Tolkien must be taken with a grain of salt as not necessarily being Tolkienís last word on a matter. Many issues were still being resolved up until the last days of his life. The history of Galadriel and Celeborn is the most glaring example of this. Even Tolkien hadnít decided on the Ďcorrectí facts of their lives. Any issues that fall in this category must be clearly noted for the purpose of being thorough.

It might grow slowly at first, but as word spreads of what we are trying to do, we should draw the attention of every serious Tolkien scholar. The purpose of Minas Tirith has always been to have a place for in-depth Tolkien discussion. The Library of the White Tower will be a major addition to achieving this purpose.

White Gold Wielder

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