Connecting to Local History

There are several easy ways to incorporate local history content into Aspen Discovery for patrons to discover all you have to offer! Additionally, we have several tools to help you build out resources on local history.

Open Archives

You can incorporate open or digital archives into Aspen. The digital archive does need to follow the OAI protocol to allow Aspen to index and return the search results. OAI stands for Open Archives Initiative and there is documentation online that you can find here:

If your digital archives are ready to go, you can use our documentation for setting up the Open Archive connection in Aspen.

You can define what subjects you want to include if you only want a specific subset of information to be findable in Aspen. Once you have the archive incorporated, the results can be found in their own dropdown tab.

Additionally, if a catalog search returns something applicable in your archives search, as well, that result will show in the 'Explore More' box in the catalog search results.

If your archives do not currently follow those guidelines, you will need to do some tweaking to the collection. However, if you do not have time for that (because isn't there always a project to get back to?) we have several other solutions for ensuring patrons know about and can access archival materials.

Website Indexing

You can choose to index web pages from any website that you would want patrons to discover and access from Aspen Discovery. This is useful for multitudes of reasons. For example, if you have information on your library website about events or activities a search for ‘events’ or ‘book club’ in the catalog search will return applicable information and web pages in the ‘Explore More’.

Additionally, like the archives search, once you incorporate web pages in Aspen, patrons will be able to access a search just for website results.

You could use the website search as a way to incorporate any web pages where you keep information on local history. For example, Uintah County Library indexes results from their county’s history center website. This ensures that patrons have access to information about local history. This would be a great way to incorporate digital archives into your catalog that do not follow OAI protocols.

Web Builder

If you do not have online archives or a website you would like to index that includes information on local history, why not just create your own web page with all of that information you want patrons to have access to?! You can do this right in Aspen because Aspen Discovery has the ability to generate and create web pages locally. We have some tutorials on how to create those pages below.

Why not create a web page about local history? You could create book lists by local authors and embed collection spotlights right onto those web pages to spotlight those books about your community and local authors! Is there an event coming up to honor a local event? Why not link patrons to the signup for the event from your new local history web page? The potential for your locally created web page is endless.


In an effort to continue patron visibility and awareness of all the local events or local history you are sharing with them, why not create a placard to bring them to all of your local history resources? This is another way to bring patrons to online archives that are not OAI accessible.

For example, if there is a website, specific web page, database, archive, book list of local authors, or any other great resource of local history content you can create a placard with all of the information triggered by search terms like ‘history’, ‘local history’, your towns name, your county’s name, local author names or anything else you think would be applicable. We are always looking for ways to increase exposure to patrons of anything they have access to, especially resources they may be unaware even exist. Learn more about placards here.


One of the unique features of Aspen Discovery is the genealogy tool. It is incredibly easy to use and setup. If you are setting this up for the first time you can find the steps here. Our partner, Uintah County Library, has utilized the genealogy capability extensively. Like other searches incorporated in Aspen, if you do a search for something in the catalog search that would return a genealogy search then that result will display in the ‘Explore More’ box. You also always have the ability to directly search the genealogy records by going directly to the search.

PDFs & Supplemental Files

While growing content on local history, why not load those clippings files or PDF copies of resources you have in the library into Aspen? As many patrons are still not able to access their libraries due to the pandemic allowing access to materials right in Aspen Discovery is a game changer. All you would need to do is create a marc record for the file in your ILS. Once it is created, you will hop into the record in Aspen and scroll down to the ‘Staff View’. You will see an option to ‘Upload PDF Version’ and ‘Upload Supplemental File’. Both of these tools are essentially the same in that whatever you upload will be viewable and downloadable by your patrons. However, if you are wanting to upload something other than a PDF, like an excel file, you would use the Supplemental File tool.

If you are in the staff view and are not seeing these options, you either need to update your permissions or you are not on a specific record. When uploading a file, make sure you are on the edition and not the grouped work because we want to ensure the file is attached to the proper edition. This feature is cool because now if a patron is doing local history research, all they have to do is find the resource in your catalog and they can download and view the files themselves right on the catalog.

Combined Results

Now that you have archives, websites, and genealogy records indexing in Aspen Discovery, it may be useful to provide a bento box style of searching. In order to do this, you can turn on the combined results. This allows the patron to use the combined results to do a search and at one glance see what is available from all your search resources on one page!

You can set that up by going into the library systems in Primary Configuration. From there you scroll down to the ‘Combined Results’ section to set up. In that section you can configure how many results from each search display and how they display simultaneously.

As you can see, there are many ways to highlight your local history (and other treasured collections) right through Aspen Discovery!

Did You Know?

Did you know that you can create browse categories and collection spotlights out of archive or genealogy searches in the same way you generate them from a catalog search!?

Read more by Kalleen Marquise