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Reference Library Mission

As part of the Understanding component of the SWG's mission, we have set up a Reference Library to collect and showcase works that provide reliable information on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, the craft of writing, and the fandom culture in which we all participate, as well as other topics that we feel would be of interest to our members and guests. We aim for our Reference Library to become known as a place to acquire reliable, enlightening, and entertaining secondary sources on subjects of interest to SWG members.

Contributing to the Reference Library

We invite authors of non-fiction to consider submitting their work to the SWG Reference Library. Currently, we are accepting submissions on the following topics:

If you have a non-fiction piece that does not fit the topics above, please query us before sending it. Also, if you're not sure if your essay is relevant to our purposes here, please ask before assuming that it is not. We are rarely as strict as people think that we are, and if you think it would be relevant, it probably is!

Reference Library Review Process

All works under consideration for publication in our Reference Library must pass our review process before inclusion. Our review process is intended only to assure that references meet the SWG's standards for source citation, reliability, and grammar and usage before publication. It is not intended to favor or disfavor a particular interpretation, opinion, or viewpoint.

Please note that the SWG does maintain a public archive for fiction and non-fiction related to The Silmarillion. Any references acceptable for our Reference Library are also acceptable to be published on the archive. No review system is used to determine what is published on the archive. If you desire feedback on your work or wish not to put your work through our review system, then we suggest that you consider putting it on the archive instead. Works published in the Reference Library are also welcome on the archive.

Our review process includes two steps. Not all submissions will require both steps.

Staff Review

The review process begins with a review by Reference Library staff. This includes the loremaster and her assistant(s). They will assess the submission for the following:

All submissions will be reviewed by the Reference Library staff before they are accepted for publication.

In the case of a tie in deciding whether or not the Reference Library staff wants to accept a submission, the submission will be passed to active site moderators to break the tie.

If the submission passes staff review, then it will pass on to peer review, if it is a reference about Tolkien's canon. All other submissions will be offered publication on the site. The Reference Library staff will work with the author on copyediting and any other issues they'd like to see addressed before publication.

Please note that staff do not accept or decline submissions based on interpretation or other differences of opinion. The SWG is committed to welcoming a variety of interpretations. If an author feels that his or her submission has not received a fair staff review, he or she may request that it be reviewed by the other active site moderators.

Peer Review

Submissions that are meant to serve as references about Tolkien's canon must also pass a peer review by the Reference Library's reference readers. Reference readers are volunteers who check the citations an author provides to assure that 1) the information the author is presenting is correct according to the cited source, 2) that readers using the reference will be able to reasonably find in the primary sources where the author is getting his or her information, and 3) that the author is not withholding any information that would change the conclusion of the piece. It is important to us that references we choose to publish get their information from primary sources--not secondary sources, hearsay, or "fanon"--and that authors provide enough information with their citations for readers to look up in the information in the primary sources that the author used.

Reference readers do not analyze or judge interpretations. They do not copyedit, beta-read, or critique the writing of the submission. They match citations to sources and very little more. Again, if authors feel their submission has not received fair treatment during the review process, then they are welcome to appeal to the active site moderators not directly involved with the Reference Library.

Any SWG member may volunteer as a reference reader. Please see our reference reader page for more information on how you can help.

Once a submission has passed both reviews, it will be offered publication on the site. The Reference Library staff will work with the author on copyediting and any other issues they'd like to see addressed before publication.

Please note also that commentary on canon will not be required to pass peer review. Because commentary necessarily relies heavily on the opinions of the author and is not meant to be used primarily as a reference, then strict fact-checking is largely pointless.


Certain references are published regularly, and, because of the time constraints placed on the publication of these works, they are not required to be peer-reviewed. Periodicals are kept in a section separate from the main Reference Library.

Citing Sources

All submissions to the SWG Reference Library must meet these minimum qualifications for source citation. Submissions that do not will be returned to their authors for correction before being published or passing to peer review.

Primary Tolkien Sources

Primary Tolkien sources are the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. These include The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, The History of Middle-earth series, Unfinished Tales, The Children of Húrin, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and any additional collections of his writings or notes, such as Vinyar Tengwar.

Citations of primary Tolkien sources should narrow down as much as possible the exact source of the information that the author is using. Authors are strongly encouraged to include chapter titles and any further subdivisions that will help readers pinpoint exactly where the author is getting his or her information. Page numbers are welcome but not necessary, as many readers will possess different editions than the author, and other readers may be working from digital copies without page numbers at all. If an author provides page numbers, she or he must still provide additional chapter and subsection information to aid readers.

For example:

The works cited list should ideally show where the author is getting his or her information as narrowly as possible. Please do not worry about making the works cited graceful to look at: The Reference Library staff will assist authors where there are concerns about this. Nor do we insist upon the use of certain standards (e.g., APA or MLA). Authors are encouraged to use what is most comfortable to them. Our chief concern is that readers will be able to easily locate from where an author is getting his or her information.

Each reference to canon in a submission must have an in-text citation corresponding to an item on your works cited list, unless the information is common knowledge within the Silmarillion community. For example, that Fëanor crafted three luminous jewels called Silmarils is common knowledge and does not need to be cited. That Fëanor married young is not common knowledge and should have a citation to a canon source.

Other Primary Sources and Secondary Sources

It is, of course, necessary at times to move outside of Tolkien's works for information. Some submissions--such as those concerned with writing or fandom culture--will rely entirely on sources outside of Tolkien. Information gathered from these sources must be given an in-text citation that corresponds to a source in the works cited list. The works cited list must include the following, at the minimum.

Print Sources

Internet Sources

Contributors are reminded that, while secondary sources serve an important place in reseaching Tolkien's works, secondary sources should never be used as a substitute for a primary source citation. While The Encyclopedia of Arda, Wikipedia, and other references are wonderful ways to learn and gather information, they should not be used as sources for canon facts. Please find and cite that information in the primary sources. If you are having trouble locating a piece of information in the primary sources, consider contacting the author of the reference or consulting the works cited list. Additionally, the SWG maintains a discussion list that, in part, exists to help SWG members with research questions.

Source citations can be overwhelming to writers new to research writing. We encourage all potential contributors to contact us with any questions or difficulties that they have in readying their work for submission to the Reference Library. We are happy to offer any help that we can! Please do not let confusion or uncertainty about how to handle citations prevent you from sending your work to us. We are here to help.

Publication Rights Acquired

Contributors to the Reference Library should be aware that the Reference Library is not a self-editable archive. Writing in the Reference Library is published by the SWG, meaning that it is in a final, completed form and will become a permanent part of our site.

The SWG seeks one-time rights to publish a contributor's work online on websites and groups under our control. This includes our homepage (, our LiveJournal community, and our Yahoo! group.

Contributors reserve the right to have their work removed from our sites at any time. It is the contributor's responsibility to contact us at in order to effect the removal of their work. However, we do ask contributors not to contribute work that they feel they might wish to remove or change at a later date. Reviewing and preparing a reference for the library takes a good amount of time of our staff and volunteers and is done so with the understanding that their efforts aid in making references a permanent part of the SWG Reference Library. The SWG does reserve the right to refuse submissions from contributors who make a habit of withdrawing work from the site.

Contributors reserve the right to have their work updated at any time and must contact us at in order to do so. However, contributors should understand that, depending on the nature of the update, the work might have to pass staff and peer review again, and the updates may be rejected. Again, contributors are encouraged to submit only work that is completed and with which they are satisfied.

Contributors are encouraged to discuss with us any terms they would like to place on the publication of their work. We will gladly name and link any publications in which the work has already appeared and will do our best to meet other terms as well.

All rights and copyright remain with the contributor. This means that that work is yours to do with as you please and to put up on as many other sites and archives as you would like.

Submitting Your Work

Please use the form below or send your work directly to Acceptable formats are .doc, .rtf. .txt., and .html, or the work may be pasted into the body of an email. MS Word users, please note: we cannot accept .docx format. Please be sure to save your work in one of the acceptable formats before sending it. If you need help doing this, contact us.

We will reply within a day of receipt of your submission to confirm that it was received. If you do not hear from us within this time, please feel free to query; an email might have been lost in a SPAM filter. A Reference staff member will give you an estimate of how long it will take to hear the results of the staff review.

Please note that by sending your work to us, you are acknowledging that you have read and understood the contents of this document and wish to proceed with the process of having your work published on our site. If you have any questions or concerns about the process or wish to name any terms of publication, please speak with us prior to sending in your work.

Your Name:
Your Email:

I have read and understood the guidelines found at, including the rights that the SWG will acquire, the review process my work will undergo, and my rights to change or remove my work at a later date.

Please upload your file here. Acceptable formats are .doc, .rtf. .txt., and .html.

If you wish to include any additional information or notes for our Reference staff, please include that here.

Frequently Asked Questions

This section is under construction. Please contact us at with any questions you might have.

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