System Messages

There are times when libraries must communicate important information to patrons such as scheduled or unexpected closings, internet outages, changes to account login information, etc. Or maybe you want to spread the word about the library’s newsletter or an upcoming special event. Aspen can help you cover your communication bases with system messages!

System messages appear at the top of the catalog screen above all other information. They are fully customizable with different options for text formatting and background color. For those who are comfortable with CSS, these messages can be further customized in the Theme settings to match the look and feel of your library’s brand. Additionally, you can decide where the message appears: on all catalog pages (whether users are logged in or not), on all account pages, the checkouts page, the holds page, or the fines page.

Before we learn how to create and customize system messages, let’s take a look at some great examples from our partners!

Yavapai Library Network is currently using a system message to ask for patron feedback about their brand new Aspen catalog! They’ve even included a graphic that shows patrons where to go.

Arlington Public Library has used some custom CSS to create bold, high-contrast system messages to keep patrons informed about changing COVID policies and closures.

Dora Public Library, a part of Coastline Libraries, also uses two system messages: one to promote an upcoming event, and a second ongoing message stating current mask policy.

Tinley Park Public Library, a member of the SWAN consortium, has a system message displaying only within their patrons’ accounts on the My Holds page.

Now that we've seen some creative and useful examples from our library partners, let's see how you can create system messages for your library!

Creating a System Message

  • Visit Local Catalog EnrichmentSystem Messages and click Add New.
  • Give your system message a title. This is not shown anywhere publicly, it is for your internal identification purposes only.
  • Type and format your message in the Message to show text area.
  • Click the Show On dropdown to change where the system message displays, if desired. The message will show on all pages by default, but you can also target messages based on whether users are logged in, or display on specific account pages.
  • Select a Message Style to help your message stand out with background colors.
  • Select a start date and end date for your message, if applicable. This means you can set a start and/or end date for a time-sensitive message to appear when you want it and disappear when no longer needed -- set it and forget it!
  • Select the libraries and locations the system message applies to. If no libraries or locations are selected, the system message will not appear.
  • Save your changes.

Other Messages

In addition to system messages, it’s useful to know about the other types of patron-facing messages you can customize within the Aspen interface.


Add additional information or instructions to the Self-Registration page (if using this feature) to help patrons as they sign up for access to your library. Customize this message in Library Systems settings → ILS/Account Integration → Self Registration. You’ll be able to create a message to display on the form page and a “success” message upon submission.

Please note that you may have a message here configured from within your ILS. If you add a custom message in Aspen, it will override the display of your ILS message.

Login Window

Add custom text to the login screen for users. This could be reminders of library card number or PIN format, or extra contact information for assistance with logging in. Customize this message in Library Systems settingsILS/Account IntegrationLogin with the Login Notes field and save your changes.

Purchase Suggestion Form

To add a message to the Purchase Suggestion page, head to Library Systems settings → ILS/Account Integration → Purchase Suggestion, then fill in the New Request Summary text box and save your changes.

Please note that you may have a message here configured from within your ILS. If you add a custom message in Aspen, it will override the display of your ILS message.

Hold Disclaimer

Add a message to the screen patrons see when placing a hold in your catalog. This will apply to any hold within the catalog as defined within the Library Systems settings. To add a hold disclaimer message, navigate to Library Systems settings → ILS/Account IntegrationHolds. Add your text to the Hold Disclaimer field and save your changes.

We hope this blog post has helped you see all the possibilities for communicating with patrons no matter where they happen to be in your catalog. If you have any questions about message customization, please reach out to us on Slack or submit a support ticket!

Did You Know?

Did you know that system messages are easily translatable? System messages (and so much more in the Aspen interface!) can be customized in the Aspen Administration settings as well as with the English-to-English Translation function.

Read more by Morgan Daigneault

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