John Brady - 17th October 2021

A True Labor of Love

It would not be an exaggeration to say that everyone involved in the development of the Asian Legacy Library’s brand strategy and eventual website design and development was smitten from the very beginning.

The Asian Legacy Library Homepage. Image: Asian Legacy Library.

Over the last 8 months, this passionate group of individuals labored to define and articulate ALL’s vision and mission in digital form. And the beautiful thing about it is that the project attracted talent from everywhere. Practitioners and non-practitioners. Easterners and Westerners. From the world of academia, as well as the private sector. Young and old. The commonality is they all saw the beauty, the importance, and the urgency in the work.

We would like to thank Mark Trippetti, Jeff Wallman, and John Campbell for their leadership in putting together the initial vision. A perfect combination of a brand guys’ insight, a preservationist’s passion, and a scholar’s deep knowledge.

Once the strategy was pieced together, the team vetted a number of design and development firms to tackle the significant task of bringing the “two halves” of the site together. The donor presentation and the library itself, two separate and distinct efforts that needed to be executed in a way that reflects the exquisite nature of the organization’s mission, and the beauty of the library’s technology solution.

ALL chose the extremely talented design firm NoFormat, located in New York City and Belgrade. Its multi-disciplinary team brought us through strategy workshops, wire-frame development, copy direction, and UI/UX design. The team created an aesthetic that seamlessly brought both the visual identity and the library technology to life. The work reflected both their understanding of and passion for the project.

The brand strategy and combined creative execution, from corporate identity to website design and all things in-between, is intended to introduce a world-class digital library which in part houses 34 years of the Asian Classics Input Projects enormous preservation efforts.

This foundational corpus of precious material is meant to be the beginning of a sustained effort by the library to locate, digitally preserve, and safeguard an increasingly broad sampling of cultural wisdom literature traditions from around the world.

In addition to being a showcase of ALL’s preservation work with its partners, the new website is the main destination for its digital library. The project brings together more than 12 months of data design and data migration work by Jeff Wallman, Joel Crawford and Phil Baker. Phil designed a database that creates uniform fields and relationships from the large corpus of input text files. Joel designed and implemented an Elasticsearch database that draws from the MySQL database and creates indexes for all the resources. Joel designed the application programming interface (API) for Elasticsearch and built the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) server and client apps that allows ALL to share its own resources to independent libraries, as well as to harvest image content from other IIIF-compliant libraries, like the one at BDRC. Jeff created the technology road map, strategy, architecture, data and governance models, and managed the project.

The ALL digital library was built as a React app that is installed in the website as a module. ALL chose Splice Digital to build the app. Splice had razor sharp focus on the problem and was able to build the app in less than a month. It is a fully independent code base that interfaces directly with the API. It can be continually updated to match user requests and expanded for new collections. Investment in technology is a key strategy that advances ALL’s mission. We are thrilled now, to have all of our data made publicly accessible.

In particular, we would like to thank the following people for their hard work and perseverance:

Jesse Waitz, Milos Perovic, Ana Siljkovic, Aleksander “Sasha”Jankovic, Branko Bobic, Danilo Radovic, Jenni Dawes, Christina Luchkiw, Vimala Sperber, Brett Shea, Inês Piquet, Osiris Luciano, Liz Sung, Bertha Velasco, Roxana Singh Ballesteris, Persis Lee, Luca Ye, Alice Liu, Alyssa Shen, Katie Chiu, Irina Lyskovag, and Geoff Hays.

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