Aspen Discovery Implementation Process

We first wrote about the Aspen Implementation process in March 2021 and a lot has changed since then! Over the last year, we have welcomed more and more libraries into the Aspen community and we have refined and improved our processes through library feedback. This blog post is for libraries interested in learning more about Aspen Discovery and the implementation process with ByWater support.

Open Source

ByWater Solutions is an open source support company and Aspen Discovery is an open source discovery layer. So instead of being driven by proprietary products, our main focus is supporting libraries and communities with solutions that reflect their wants and needs. Our unofficial company motto is “Happy Partners”. We are a group of librarians, knitters, data experts, problem solvers, developers, crafters, Dad-joke-enthusiasts, and researchers that are fanatic about supporting libraries and their communities.


Speaking of community, the moment you join ByWater, doors are open to a global community of users that represent public, academic, and special libraries. Aspen Discovery developments and design decisions come directly from feedback from our library community. We have a Slack Community of 300 (and growing) users that you can chat in real time with ByWater staff and other Aspen community members on best practices, workflows, tips and tricks, and to even share the occasional pet photo!

We invite you to join us for our monthly Aspen Gathering, a community meeting to discuss Aspen features, upcoming releases, and how libraries are leveraging Aspen. The meeting takes place on Zoom the first Thursday of every month at 2:00 PM ET / 11:00 AM PT. In the meeting, we dedicate the first 15 minutes to Aspen Updates in an Instant - a demo of new release features and spend the rest of the time discussing community priorities.

You can find out more about these and more community events on our Aspen Discovery Community Calendar conveniently available in 4 different time zones.

Kick Off Call

Now that you know a little more about us, we want to learn about you! After our contract is signed, we will schedule a Kick Off Call on Zoom so we can all meet, talk about priorities and the timeline of the implementation. We want to establish an open communication channel right from the beginning and talk through any concerns and customize our training time together to what is most important to you, your staff, and your patrons. Just like Aspen Discovery, there is no one size fits all approach to implementations. As former library staff ourselves, we understand how stressful implementations can be on staff and patrons and we want to make it anything but!

Implementation Site

Implementation Site Every library will have their own Implementation Site built for them that is their “home base” for all things training. Staff can find their implementation timeline, agendas for each training, corresponding training resources, marketing materials, and more all in one convenient place. This site will grow with FAQs, notes, to-dos, and recordings as we move together through the implementation. Prior to going live, you’ll find a handy checklist to go through to make sure everything is in place for a smooth transition to your new library interface!


One of the changes we have made to our implementation process is creating surveys around how you would like your new Aspen site(s) to be set up. We found that libraries generally needed one to two weeks to sit down with custom configurations to pick the brains of their colleagues and get their gears churning about all that is possible in Aspen. Of course, there is a lot you will be unsure about at this point! From these surveys, we create a tailored agenda for the first time we meet so we can go over anything you are unsure about in more detail and optimize our time together. Once submitted, our Aspen team will start building and customizing your site based on those preferences and we’ll have a draft site for you to start working in throughout the training process.

Creating a Schedule

Much like the libraries we serve, the speed and depth of the implementation timeline is vast and diverse! We will sit down with you and create a sample schedule for you and your team, including who we suggest should attend each session. We can create a customized schedule that will go over the modules that are most important to your library to get your library live on Aspen.

From there, we can meet for ongoing training(s) as needed if you want to utilize more of Aspen’s features. For example, we have seen the trend of many libraries using Aspen as their full library website after they have been live for a couple months and staff and patrons are comfortable with the basics. Using Aspen’s built in Web Builder functionality is an easy way to merge your library catalog and your library website into one user friendly and engaging library experience. Here's an example of the Henry Carter Hull Library using Aspen as their library website.

Let’s Zoom!

We typically recommend we meet once a week for training leading up to your library’s go live date. Once your Aspen project team has completed training, we will host Patron Experience session(s) and invite your entire staff to meet your new catalog to learn everything they need to know to help patrons and themselves use Aspen effectively.

Throughout the entire process (and beyond), you have access to your Implementation Specialist’s calendar, through Calendly, to directly book time to go over questions or any special configurations you’d like to make.

After each session, we will provide you with a list of action items to complete prior to our meeting again. These bite sized tasks will help us stay on schedule and build your Aspen site over the course of implementation to fully prepare you and your team for go live.

Check in

Throughout the process, we follow-up with any questions you may have and also perform a continued analysis of your catalog’s progress and an inventory of any configuration settings that are yet to be completed. We also provide you with a testing plan prior to going live to help you triple check that everything is working as you’d like. We try to leave two weeks of buffer time between the end of training and going live on Aspen for your team to test and for us to meet about anything you still are unsure about.


By the time you go live on Aspen, you have been working with us for at least eight weeks and we are fast friends (at least we hope!). You’ve met our pets (we work from home), shared a few laughs, learned new things together, and can’t wait to see and hear your patron’s react to your new catalog! We will be with you every step of the way in launching Aspen and can provide marketing and messaging suggestions we've gathered from other Aspen libraries.

We've Got Your Back

At ByWater, support is never piecemeal and every question is welcomed! After you've launched Aspen, you will have access to the same familiar faces and dedicated support that you did during implementation. We can schedule monthly check in meetings, you can still access our calendars at anytime, or you can just reach out as needed through Slack or our ticketing system.

We hope this clears up any questions you may have had about implementing Aspen with ByWater! If you still have questions or want to know more, one of our Implementation Specialists, Morgan, recently did a presentation on the implementation process that you can watch below.

Read more by Kalleen Marquise

Tags implementation