One of the most fun, useful, and engaging functions of Aspen is the ratings and recommendations. Book recommendations in Aspen show up in a few different places, including the While You Wait feature, More Like This, and Recommended For You. These recommendations are also based on the subjects, topics, awards, author, era, genre, geographic facet, MPAA rating, audience, and accelerated reader level, and the fiction/ non-fiction facet. However, each of these features are not going to show the same recommendations to the patron.
Recommended For You
I have recently been reading biographies and memoirs, which is a little different than my usual haunts in fantasy and science-fiction. More specifically, I’ve been loving stories of the Pacific Crest Trail. The Recommended For You page located in the patron account section is based on the most recent ratings and how highly those ratings are. That means that if I have rated travel and biographies books highly more recently, I will see those recommendations before I see any science fiction books - which works great for me! These recommendations are also dynamic and will change based on what ratings are in your account, which means that if a rating is deleted you will not see recommendations based on those titles anymore.
Through the evolution of Aspen, this is one aspect that has undergone improvements that make it quicker and more responsive for patrons. In this section, you are also able to ask Aspen to not recommend certain titles, rate the title, or even check it out or place it on hold.
Above the Recommended For You section, you are also able to see the ratings that you have given along with any reviews. Ratings, which are shown in search results, record displays, and in various lists, are shown as a basic 5-star system that patons will be familiar with. This visual presentation of the rating not only gives patrons the ability to say they like a book beyond “yes” or “no” but it allows them to join others at the library in recommending books for others based on how many stars each book has received from other library patrons. And, since it’s not a crime to change your mind, you are able to change the ratings at any place that you see those stars.
Recommendation Browse Category
If some of your patrons are less inclined to look through their account, you are also able to bring their recommendations to them on the main browse page! As long as they are signed in and your library has the browse category set up, they will be able to see a Browse Category of the Recommended For You books.
To set this up, all you need to do is go into the administration menu and click into Browse Categories. Then you will need to add a browse category (probably with the label “Recommended For You,” and add the textId, “system_recommended_for_you”. Then, just make sure the library is set and save this category. Don’t forget that you can rearrange browse categories as well, so that this could show up first, last, or in between. Fortunately, if users aren’t logged in or don’t use the ratings system, this category won’t show up on the main browse page.
While You Wait and More Like This
The While You Wait and More Like This features are very similar, but are different in a very important way. These recommendations also pull from the same facets (similar series, reading levels, etc) but these are based on the title you are viewing. The More Like This feature will appear in the record display and as a button next to a checked out title or a title in your reading history as, “You Might Also Like.” The While You Wait recommendations appear after placing a hold as well as in your current holds page. The main difference between these two features is that books in the While You Wait recommendations will be available in at least one format and it will show what format it is available in.
We love to see patrons engaging with Aspen, which is one reason why the ratings and recommendations are so fun. As always, if you think of any improvements or suggestions send them our way!
Read more by Emily Fowler