Today, I had the joy and honor of launching the Research Library at the HASA web site.
What is it? A fully researched compilation of Tolkieniana, broken out into four major content types - People, Places, Things and Timeline Events. It is chock full of quotes and citations, ready to help the writer who needs to confirm something or entertain the casual reader who just wants to follows links wherever they go. It is cross-linked and cross-referenced. There is a full-text search with full boolean operations. An A-Z index. And the best part is it is thousands of entries and it's still growing.
Dozens of people have worked for more than four years to put this into shape for public release. It took that long for volunteers to gather the data, painstakingly entering it one record at a time. A lot of time was spent experimenting with formats and organization. Everything is researched, with information about where in the Tolkien compendium this or that detail came from.
This is the best, most valuable, most interesting part of HASA. It is the reason that the site is still operating. I would have shut the site down two years ago had it not been for this brilliant gem at its heart.
Elena Tiriel and Lyllyn spearheaded the effort and kept it on track for all this time, guiding it surely and steadily through all the various fandom dust-ups and nonsense. They patiently put up with my lick-and-a-promise coding work, willing to take backseat to the flashier features. They believed in something that gets almost no attention or respect from the typical self-absorbed and incurious fangirls infesting the fandom, and have created a work of craft and imagination that puts to shame the writings of any author.
My hat is off to them and their team of research elves.