Recommendations in Aspen Discovery

We wanted to circle back to a popular topic that we touched on in a January edition of Aspen Weekly- Recommendations in Aspen Discovery!

An important part of using the library is trying to figure out what to read next. As we all know, libraries can provide hundreds of thousands, or even millions of different titles for patrons. With such a wealth of information, it can be daunting for patrons to figure out what they want next.

To help patrons determine what they want to read, watch, or listen to next, we offer a variety of recommendation services to patrons. In Aspen, recommendations can be driven by librarians, ratings the patrons have done, the metadata for the title, and by paid third party services. This combination of recommendations allows patrons to easily find new titles they might have otherwise overlooked.

In this blog post, we’ll cover recommendations based on ratings patrons have done as well as the metadata for each title.

Patron Driven Recommendations

Aspen Discovery offers personalized recommendations to patrons based on titles that they have previously rated. We use ratings patron give rather than reading history for recommendations to account for cases where a patron checks out a title, but never reads it, didn’t really like it, or checked it out for their child or partner.

Once a patron has rated titles, they can see a list of everything they have rated by selecting "Titles You Rated" within the account menu.

From here they can modify any rating or remove a rating.

Now that we have rated titles, we will be able to see a list of recommendations by selecting "Recommended For You" within the Account menu.

Recommended For You

The ratings are generated for the patron based on the titles they have rated. Aspen will initially look at the last 5 titles that a patron has rated to generate recommendations specifically for those titles, as patron interests change and grow.

For the first 5 titles, we will generate from 1 to 3 recommendations based on how highly the patron reviewed the title. Following these recommendations, we will generate additional recommendations based on all titles that a patron has rated.

All recommendations are based on information about the titles themselves including:

  • Subjects
  • Topics
  • Awards won
  • Author
  • Era
  • Genre
  • Geographic Data
  • MPAA Rating
  • Accelerated Reader Interest Level.

In all cases, Aspen will not recommend titles that are in their Reading History, that they have previously rated, and that they have indicated they are not interested in by clicking "Don’t Recommend".

Although a patron can always see their recommendations within their account, you can make it even easier for them by adding a Browse Category to the Home Page so they can easily see their personalized recommendations as soon as they login.

If a patron has not rated titles, they can still see similar titles for a title by navigating to the title and viewing the "More Like This" information.

These results are driven by the same factors that drive reading recommendations including subject, author, etc. Because we are using the metadata for each title, we can generate recommendations for all of the titles within Aspen Discovery regardless of format. Of course, if you subscribe to a service that generates recommendations like Novelist or Syndetics Unbound, that content can be included as well.

The final place that recommendations are shown to patrons are while placing holds and within their account. When a patron places a hold, Aspen will automatically recommend 3 similar titles that are currently available for the patron to read right away.

The patron can easily click on any of these titles to place additional holds, checkout more titles, or find the title in the stacks to checkout while they are at the library.

Within the patron’s account they can also access suggestions for titles they have on hold by selecting the "While You Wait" option next to each hold.

If the patron has titles checked out or in their reading history that they are enjoying, they can use the "You Might Also" like option to see additional titles that are similar to the title they like.

We recognize that patrons are always looking for the next title to read, watch or listen to so with Aspen Discovery we make it easy for them to see all of the amazing titles you have in your collection. They can maximize their enjoyment of the collection and you can circulate titles a patron may not have known about without using Aspen.

Do you have other ideas for ways to recommend titles to patrons? We’d love to discuss them with you! Some of Aspen's best features have grown out of library suggestion and input! Please put in a ticket or attend one of our Aspen Gatherings with any feedback on recommendations you may have!

Did You Know?

Did you know that recommendations are included at no additional cost within Aspen and don't require any third party services?

Read more by Mark Noble