Librarial explorers: Myths, Truths, and Uniforms

Anyone working, living, or occasionally passing near the Great Library has seen them: mysterious figures in white coats, leaving to or coming back from their odd adventures and secret missions all for the purpose of gathering knowledge.   Between their impressive appearance and their semi-sacred mission of knowledge-seeking, members Surface Exploration Service of the Great Library are at the center of many urban legends, myths and misconceptions. This Special Issue of the Merinian Household aims at righting some of that wrong. Thanks to our anonymous sources, a special attention will be attached to the nature of the exploration's outfit, and its numerous details.  

The explorers: Knowledge-drinking monsters? Sectary creeps? Or misunderstood scholars?

 

Purpose of their mission

The myth: Everyone knows that Librarial Explorers are part of a weird and dangerous sect. They pursue knowledge in order to control the world’s technological advancements, and use thoughts and memories as sacrifices to their gods.   The truth: For a first example of misconception, there is a lot to unpack here. First of all, the Librarial Explorers are not particularly part of a sect: an array of religious beliefs exist among the Merinos Great Library, and none is recognized as a state religion. Secondly, if the Library was to be such a sect, it does not want to control the world’s technological progress: it IS the world’s technological progress. The Great Library is the only organized group of people entirely dedicated to the understanding of the world’s fundamental laws, and doing its best to constantly assess its own biases. It is located on top of the world’s largest pile of ancient, forgotten knowledge, a structure that may very well be as old as time itself. Every scholarly group in the sedentary world, and most scholarly tribes among nomads, are in one way or another collaborating with the Library. To say the Library wants to control technological progress is similar to say the Sun wants to control the length of day.  

Political power, state of being above the law

The myth: The Merinos government is so afraid of the Library, or so involved in shady stuff with them, that any member of the Library is virtually above the law when moving around Merinos.   The truth: This is an exageration of the facts. While some diplomatic agreements states that the Merinian police is to hand over any arrested member of the Library for them to be tried according to their home laws, it doesn't mean they aren't punished. Besides, in the case of serious crimes or civic issues, it is not uncommon for the Library to let Merinos deal with things in its own ways. So, slightly protected by diplomacy, but definitely not above the law.  

Powers, supernatural aspects

The myth: Explorers are supernatural entities, and have dangerous powers. They can read your thought, suck memories out of your mind, and cause nightmares   The truth: No, they aren't. Members of the Library, and that includes Explorers, are just Humans and Perrots and Condors, no different from us Merinians! However, it is true that the Library is a paranormal hub, where the Consciousness flux is much higher than it normally is, and where the chaos caused by intelligent lifeforms is somewhat deafened. As a result, Librarians are typically better attuned to the spiritual world. Combined with their intense training and studies of the arcane arts, and of course, they are capable of impressive mental feats! But still, they definitely aren’t supernatural ghosts or whatever you may think.    

How does one even becomes an explorer?

  The myth: Because noone can birth in the Library, they are taking children and brainwash them into their odd beliefs.   The truth: This is just wrong. Births do regularly occur in the great library, and humans or perrots are born there just the same way as they would be anywhere else. More than one hundred thousand people are citizens of the Library, and almost half of them live inside the structure. Of course they reproduce naturally!   The myth: Actually, only members of the library's aristocracy are allowed to become explorers.   The truth: That's not true either. To begin with, there isn't really such a thing as "aristocracy" in the library. The scholars live in roughly egalitarian tribes. They are mostly closed into their own tiny bubbles, and don't have time for such nonsense as nobility.
Propaganda poster inciting young librarian to join the Exploration Service
by Pouaseuille
 

The exploration outfit, a well-crafted and standardized masterpiece

    Beside the huge amount of folk tales and stories, Librarial explorers are well-known for their typical, easy to remember uniform. The long coat, the heavy and yet silent boots, the staff, the goat... Everyone can recognize an explorer. Thanks to the help of our fashion team as well as sources from the Library who wished to remain anonymous, this special issue will tell you all there is to know about the famous clothing marvel that is the exploration uniform! Notes from the redaction team: it must be noted that this issue is focused on uniforms worn by humans of the Exploration Service. Of course, numerous Perrots and even Condors are part of this service as well, and wear an adapted version of this uniform and its accessories. However, our anonymous sources didn’t provide sufficient details on the nature of these adaptation, and our artists could not produce satisfactory drawings on the subject. The entire team would like to apologize for the discriminatory behavior, much unwelcome in these days.  

What is the Common Service anyway?

  As mentioned earlier in this report, members of the Great Library are organized in separate scholarly Tribes, focused on different fields of research. While they keep a high degree of independence, they are still following a common code, and serve a common purpose: the greater good of the Library itself. This idea of common purpose is reflected in the name of the "State" services of the Library: the Common Services. These include the general government of the library, but also any governmental job such as the education of foreign students, food logistics, as well as police forces, military and specialized exploring corps: the Surface Exploration Service and the Deep Galleries Exploration Service.   While some of the larger Tribes of the Library have their own equivalent of such groups and services, and produce their own forms of uniforms, only the Common Services are required to serve everyone equally, and only they have access to the entire spectrum of Librarial technologies. These include a wide array of plastic materials, ghostpowder-woven textiles and reinforced woods, as well as specific and standardized enchantment.  

A specialized form of the general uniform

  Anyway, back to the actual outfit! The Exploration uniform is a specialized version of the uniforms worn by other Common Services. In particular, it is similar to the military, and police outfits of the library: one long and thick trenchcoat covering a shirt, a sewn pair of trousers, and protective boots.   The coat: On the outside, the coat are made out of coarse wool. For maximum comfiness, however, they are doubled with a softer tissue woven out of plastic from the depths of the library. The result is a comfy, stretchy cloth that dries quickly, protects well from the cold and is easy to recognize. The marks on the shoulder pads, and on the sleeves, indicate the explorer's role, their current mission, and their origin. They are dutifully kept up to date by explorers. By all Common Service members, really.   The shirt: Under their coat, explorers wear a loosely adjusted shirt, that is meant to be slightly protective, while remaining light and not impeding on one's movements. Based on their body shapes, some explorers may wear supplementary undergarments benath that shirt, such as a long cloth chest binder or brassiere.   The boots: While not as fashionable as the rest of the uniform, the Librarial explorer's footwear are more than simple boots. They are largely protective thanks to their covering plates and thick leather. But more than that, they are adaptable. Based on their missions, explorers carry smaller plates or adapted soles that may help them walk in cities, forests, or even climb cliffs.  

No outfit is complete without accessories!

 
librarian-staff.png
    the staff: Investigating the wilderness for potential sources of knowledge is a potentially dangerous job. Librarial explorers regularly end up threatened by hostile lifeforms, nomadic raiders, or frightened tribes. While they are follow a strictly pacifist code of conduct, the explorers are sometimes forced to defend themselves. As a result, the odd wooden staff explorers carry in their back has become just as iconic as the rest of their outfit general outfit. And it deserves it! Being a combination of growing-blade weapons and a simple ghostpowder-based arquebuse, it is pretty much a marvel of technology! While they are made following a standardized blueprint, the staffs are only crafted on demand, when new members join the Exploration service or old staffs are broken beyond repair. They are perfectly adjusted to their owner and their fighting style, so that they aren’t too long to be convenient to transport, nor too short. A typical staff is roughly as long as their owner is tall, with several carefully placed handles. In addition to the necessary enchantments to hold together a staff, explorers dabbling in enchantment themselves or willing to pay others who do often personalize their weapon, adding simple ergonomic artefacts. This behaviour is slightly frowned upon by the Common Administration, but is accepted nonetheless.   the bag: same as the staff, explorer bags are semi-standardized. They are part of the uniform! As bags go, they are pretty straightforward. Simple, and sturdy: wool and leather, a frame of thick wooden rods, solid buttons, and a rope net acting as supplementary pockets on the sides. The bags are typically used to transport a variety of foods, books, camping and research artefacts, as well as important orientation equipment such as compasses or spyglasses.   the goat: Explorers, by definition, travel. Not unlike numerous other nomads, they typically travel with company. As is customary in these situations, the bond between a librarial explorer and their goat is exceptionally strong. An explorer will typically only have two or three companion goat in their career, and will greatly mourn the death of the animal. Some even say that this bond reaches a spiritual level. The explorers’ goats are a relatively impressive breed of caprine. While their size and strength is pretty standard for a nomad’s goat, they are well-known for their resilience, loyalty, and unusual longevity. It is unclear whether this is related to their bond with skilled and trained librarians, or they were bred in that purpose, but the goats are remarkably long-lived: they often reach 18 or even twenty years. There are even some reports of some reaching 28!    
 
 
  Bonus images: just for you fashion lovers, more images of typical Librarial outfits exposed by our artists.        

Comments

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Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
3 Jun, 2021 23:02

Great article! I really love the way you've chosen to present it, with the newspaper/magazine investigation and the myths/truths at the start :D   "To say the Library wants to control technological progress is similar to say the SUn wants to control the length of day." Is the weird capitalisation of sun voluntary?   "Besides, in the case of serious serious crimes or civism issues" repetition of serious, an apparently civism is not an English word according to Word dictionary?   "and of course, they are able of impressive mental feats!" should be "capable"   "than one hundred thousand people are citizens of the Library," Ooooh that's interesting! I library as a city state :D   "The long coat, the heavy and yet silent boots, the staff, the goat... " Wait what? The goat??? XD   You don't mentioned the trousers individually like you do for the coat, shirt and boots.   The staff paragraph is very big and it would help if you cut it into smaller paragraphs.   Is one of the possible enchantment on the staff to make it partly invisible? Or to make bits of it float? :p   I love the inclusion of the goat :D And you've made very pretty illustrations!   I have one suggestion of something you could maybe do if you get a good idea for it, and that would be to add a quote by the mysterious source and told the journalist about the library. Also, how does one even become an explorer? :p

4 Jun, 2021 08:09

Hi Amélie, thanks for your message! :) It's great as always to see your in depths and constructive comments.   I'm going to correct all of those language errors, to begin with.   As for the rest, yes, the Library is a city-state! In fact, it is an independent city-state within Merinos, that is itself a gigantic city-state (well, at this point it is a very centralized nation)   An enchantment wouldn't make something absolutely invisible. However, it definitely could make it so that people don't... notice the staff. Like, technically it is here, but you just can't register it.   Indeed, in the end I forgot to detail how you do become an explorer. The circular illustration is technically a propaganda poster, the weird spirals mean stuff like "JOIN THE EXPLORER SERVICE, WE HAVE COOKIES" and whatnot, but I should detail it in the article!   Again, thanks for your comment.

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
3 Jun, 2021 23:57

This is an interesting article! I like the framing of the article, as an issue of Merinian Household, that gave it a very fun vibe. The way its presented in the myth/truth sections gives not only nice insight into the explorers and their outfits, but also the perception of them in the world at large, and that is quite nice!   It does make me wonder, how much bias is there exactly in what the Merinian Household says about the Library? It seems from how nicely they talk about the library, and the political section, that there is some serious bias, which is lovely!   Not to mention the outfit itself is very nice! It’s striking, with a very nice and effective design that stands out while not being overly complex. Of course, there is also the goat. Fantastic.

Come and take a look around my world, Totania!   Or check out my Summer Camp Pledge!
4 Jun, 2021 08:16

Hello Jarhed! Thanks for this comment.   Indeed, you found a major point to this entry: bias. The Merinian Household's editor-in-chief is historically allied with the Library (two of their kids have been naturalized as citizens of the library), and while the journal largely deals with mundane aspects of the Merinian life like food or fashion, it very much has a political agenda and heavily skews its article toward its views.   I'm glad you liked the article! And the goat, I knew it was worth adding it.

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
4 Jun, 2021 11:53

This is a great article! Once again you have added superb images. I love the way that you start the article with the myth and truth section. Really fun and well thought out section. 'and don't have time for such nonsense as nobility' Love that :D   Do the different tribes with other costumes go outside of the Library region as well and do people also know how they look or is it only the Common Services that goes outside?   Also a great choice of adding the goat, love the idea ^^ Especially since they bond with the goats so well and they are quite long lived. I think they could indeed be pretty useful while exploring the mountain regions. In all great read!

Feel free to check out my costume entry. :)
4 Jun, 2021 13:15

Thank you for this nice comment! :) I'm glad you liked this entry!   The different research tribes do go outside the Library from times to times, yes. While some even have their own uniforms, they are slightly less recognized than the others. Well, they do have a "Library" look to them (as you can see in the carousel, Library member do tend to have several typical types of clothings, and sets of colors). In addition to that, a great number of citizens of the Library only work during the day in the library grounds, and have appartments elsewhere in the Merinos city, that entirely surrounds the Great Library!   Anyway, thanks for that: )

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
4 Jun, 2021 13:23

Thanks for the extra explanation ^^ Yeah seems logical that some at least live in the city around it :p

Feel free to check out my costume entry. :)
4 Jun, 2021 19:36

Wonderful article! I love the carousel of images at the end. I think my favourite is the 'foreign students' one. :D I enjoy articles written as in-world sources, so this one is right up my street. I can just imagine being curled on the sofa reading this with a cup of tea. :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
6 Jun, 2021 21:02

Hi! Glad you liked this :) Indeed, I'm trying to have most of my entries here written as in-world sources, I like the feel it gives to documents.

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
5 Jun, 2021 10:56

This is a really great article! The way you present more information about the library itself is really great, and I absolutely love the art you've done for the outfits and weapons, its a really wonderful mixture of a more scientific and arcane feel, truly unique. Also, they have goats!!! How amazing is that!! Where do I sign up?

Author of Interarcanum and the Shakiraverse
5 Jun, 2021 17:09

Hi!   Glad you did like this article! :) And definitely glad I included goats in the costume.

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
6 Jun, 2021 05:00

The Myth vs The Truth. That is a great way to communicate extra about your world and its cultures. Enjoyed your artwork!

Lavani started a trend with Fashion from a Fey during the Costume Challenge.   Keep up to date with my article tracker in my Summer Camp 2021 Pledge article.
6 Jun, 2021 21:03

Thanks for this! Glad you like the artworks, these are the main reason I worldbuild anyway.

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
7 Jun, 2021 09:51

Very cool article. If I had anything like this in my world these would be the types of outfits they would wear. Utilitarian and functional yet still nice to look at. The inclusion of the goat as an accessory is unique and very apt, especially when climbing.

9 Jun, 2021 06:09

Thanks for this comment! Glad you liked these.

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
Sage Dylonishere123
R. Dylon Elder
8 Jun, 2021 16:46

Lovely work, my friend. I thoroughly enjoyed it. More importantly, i think it's amazing how you emulate that medieval art style. My god, that's amazing.

9 Jun, 2021 06:10

I'm glad you liked this! Gotta admit, I'm much less confident in my ability to draw & paint humans than others lifeforms or landscapes... So, great that you liked these drawings!

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
9 Jun, 2021 00:59

I don't know which is my favorite part of this article. The stuff about truth vs myth, or the goat. :D

12 Jun, 2021 12:37

Goats! <3 And is that tip shaped like a pen?! XD Anyway, nice article, I like the intro, not too extensive and good explanation on what they're about, before explaining the different parts.   "To say the Library wants to control technological progress is similar to say the Sun wants to control the length of day." I really loved this line!

Too low they build who build beneath the stars - Edward Young   Costume Challenge Entry: As Superpowered troops on an alien planet, the Battle Spears wear a uniform capable of handling all they face
13 Jun, 2021 15:58

Hello! Glad you appreciated this entry. The staff's tip does indeed remind of a pen, whether the Librarians intended it to or not is unspecified ;)

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!
13 Jun, 2021 16:09

Hello! Glad you appreciated this entry. The staff's tip does indeed remind of a pen, whether the Librarians intended it to or not is unspecified ;)

With love,   Pouaseuille.   I finally participated to The Costume Challenge: here's an entry if you like!