The Challenge: The National Yiddish Book Center needed to find a way to take their facility online in a lively and engaging way that mirrored their work. We wanted to give them a site that could be appreciated, even relished, by everyone from blogger to bookworm.
The mission of the Yiddish Book Center (YBC) is to rescue Yiddish and other modern Jewish books and open up their content to the world. The Book Center began in 1980 with a young graduate student named Aaron Lanksy, who went door to door collecting thousands of Yiddish books first by hand, then hand-truck, then vanload. Visit the website to watch"A Bridge of Books," a video about the early days of the Book Center. Today YBC's focus is shifting -- "Now that we don't have to worry about the physical preservation of the literature," says Lansky, "we have a much bigger worry. Today the challenge is how to open up the books and share the culture with the broader world. And for that, the work's just begun."
That's where Echo & Co. stepped in.
The Solution: In order to share the culture preserved in these books, Echo & Co. integrated the YBC Archives, Events, Exhibits, and Book Store into one concise website. We teamed up with one of our trusted design partners to develop their new online identity. We were able to integrate the heart of the Book Center into their online presence, and thanks to the thoughtful work of everyone involved, yiddishbookenter.org is now the portal to a rich and vibrant expression of Yiddish culture.
The Archive is a collection of nearly 11,000 out-of-print Yiddish titles we integrated into the website. It's worth mentioning that the Book Center has saved around 1.5 million books since 1980, at a time when experts believed there were fewer than 70,000 volumes in existence. Of those, 11,000 have been scanned and made available to anyone and everyone with access to the internet. Even if you don't read Yiddish, it's a treat to look through the original print of these texts. Electronically flipping through the pages is like going through boxes in the attic -- you never know what treasure you're going to find next. And because it's all digital, the wealth of knowledge is available to all.
The Events portion of the website has a comprehensive calendar of events at/related to the Book Center. Visitors can select a calendar or list view, and purchase tickets to events directly from the website. As always on this site, each event is accompanied by fantastic navigation icons and photography, adding to the lively and welcoming feel.
Exhibits at the Book Center will make you wish you lived in Amherst, Massachusetts. But since not everyone can live in Amherst, we decided to bring the media gallery and exhibits to the online community. Visitors can explore online exhibits, watch and listen to clips from hundreds of programs and performances at the Book Center, and read descriptions of the current live exhibits.
If the Archive is for precious literary heirlooms, the Book Store is for the modern world of Jewish print. The Book Store is a resource for book lovers of all ages and tastes. Literally. You'll find everything from Yiddish children's books to cook books; translation to history. Also housed in the Book Store are the Yiddish Book Center's two publications: Pakn Tregger and The Jewish Reader. Every month The Jewish Reader posts a new selection of modern Jewish literature with discussion questions to engage the community. Both publications are newly available online!
Aaron Lansky said it best, "When people give you their books, it's a very candid moment . . . . They're handing you the treasures they've accumulated in their lifetime." In this revolutionary project, we were able to utilize the best of the web in order to share knowledge that otherwise would have been lost. At Echo & Co. we're proud to work with the Yiddish Book Center in bringing those treasures to light -- online, offline, and for generations to come.