Aspen Discovery

Special Formats

One of our main goals with Aspen Discovery is to help your patrons discover as many of your resources as possible! If you have a physical or digital resource, we want to help you display it in Aspen. This week, let’s take a look at how Aspen works with some special formats using examples from our library partners!

Video Games

Aspen recognizes formats for video games so multiple video game consoles can display within a grouped work for a single title.

How does this work? The setup may be slightly different depending on your ILS, but if Aspen is set to determine format by looking in the bib record, you can specify the console in the 250$a field. If your ILS is Koha, Aspen will look in the item record by default and may use collection code, shelving location, or item type to determine video game console format.

See our documentation in the Help Manual for more information about the 250$a field.

If your item record data is not specific enough to determine format – for example, if your item type for video games across all consoles is something like “VIDEOGAME,” you can adjust the format map to force Aspen to look into the bib data to determine format instead. Many of our library partners use this trick to have Aspen display their videos in either DVD or Blu-ray format when all videos share the same item-level data.

To continue with the video example, take a look at this line from a library’s format map:

You’ll find these settings in ILS Integration -> Indexing Profiles -> Format Information->Format Map. This format map helps Aspen translate your item type values into the format name displayed in the search results. When the “Format” field is left blank, Aspen is forced to search in the bib record to determine the format – this is where the 250$a field comes in!

If you have any questions about this process, please submit a ticket and our support team will be happy to help you out.

Library of Things
We love to see libraries using Aspen to feature all kinds of useful tools, equipment, and other miscellany, most popularly known as a “Library of Things”! Benbrook Public Library of Metroshare has a unique collection featuring items from gardening tools to ukuleles to a rock tumbler! You can see their full collection by clicking this link. Keep in mind that if your unique items also have special circulation rules or restrictions on pickup locations, be sure to check the configuration in your ILS as well as within Aspen. For example, some of these restrictions can be configured in the aforementioned Format Map via the “Hold Type” field and the “In Library Use Only?” and “Must Pickup at Holding Branch?” check boxes.

To maximize discovery for your patrons, be sure to take advantage of the ability to upload custom covers. Grand County Public Library has an extensive puzzle collection and embarked on a staff project to take photos and upload them to all the records for puzzles in their collection.

Adding images to these records can not only help grab patrons’ attention, but it can better illustrate what the item actually looks like or what comes in the kit. To learn how to upload custom cover images, check out Vol. 27 of Aspen Weekly.

If you have a lot of items in a collection and don’t have the bandwidth for such a project, you could instead upload a single cover image for your collection to replace the generic cover images automatically generated by Aspen. View instructions for how to achieve this by visiting the help manual page Defining Covers in MARC.

Using Side Loads for Special Formats

A few libraries have reached out to ask how Aspen could handle items that must be registered for via an external form or website. In one case, the items were museum passes. They did not want patrons to be able to place a hold on the museum passes in Aspen, but they still wanted patrons to be able to sign up for the item or find additional information via a link. “Can we change the ‘place hold’ button to bring patrons to a sign-up page?” Yes! Side loads to the rescue.

Lebanon Public Libraries has passes available for a variety of museums and state parks. First, they created the records in their ILS, Koha. These records include links to the external website where patrons can sign up for the passes they’d like – these links live in the 856 field. Next, they used Koha’s record export tool to export those records.

Note: In order to prevent duplicate records from appearing in Aspen, you’ll need to make sure those items are set to be suppressed in the OPAC or we can suppress them in Aspen in the ILS Indexing Profile settings.

Once you have your MARC file of exported records, you’re ready to side load them in. After making sure the Side Loads module is enabled under System Administration -> Modules, head to the Side Loads Settings and click Add New. Next, fill in the information for your side load. Be sure to check out our tutorial on setting up Side Loads for a walkthrough of this process if you’re unfamiliar. In addition to the steps outlined in that tutorial, you will also need to update the Record Number Tag and Record Number Subfield so Aspen knows where to pull the record number from your MARC records.

Next, click Format Information to expand those options. Here is an example of how these fields were filled out for Lebanon’s Museum Pass records. The Specified Format field will become the format label seen in search results.

Once all the settings are filled out, save your changes. Return to the top of the side load settings screen and click Upload MARC file to upload your records. Once uploaded, visit Side Loads -> Scopes and edit the scope settings for your new side load to make sure the appropriate Library and Locations are added so your patrons will have access to these records in searches.

Once your records are indexed (check the Side Load Indexing Log if you’re curious), they should appear in your catalog.

Does your library have a unique collection or format you feature in your catalog? Have you come up with a creative solution for your special items using Aspen? We’d love to hear about it!

Read more by Morgan Daigneault