Aspen Discovery Expanded Goals

We’ve had our current goals for the last 3 years and they’ve served Aspen well. However, nothing that stays stagnant will thrive for very long, so we recently took a look at the Aspen Discovery Goals with an eye towards expanding them.

Read more about our first set of goals.

Goal 1: Create a unified experience through deep integration with ALL library technologies

It irks me when I talk to someone outside of the library world about libraries and they only think of books. It’s no wonder though, when searching library catalogs of the past you would only get books - and physical books at that.

Aspen has always understood the importance of doing our best to get all library materials into a single place for patrons. That started 10 years ago when Aspen was the first to integrate with the OverDrive APIs and we’ve consistently worked to integrate with many ebook platforms since then.

Over the past few years, our integrations have moved beyond ebooks to ensure that everything the library offers can be discovered from the library catalog. From website building and indexing, to events integration, to OAI-PMH support for archives, to EBSCOhost and EDS integration, to sideloading MARC records and more, Aspen will continue to push towards our goal of making sure that patrons can find everything in one place and no one thinks the library is “just books.”

Hidden within this goal is the idea of choice for libraries. We want you to have the choice of what technologies you offer your patrons and not feel locked in to one option because it has a better integration.

Can you build your entire library website in Aspen? Yes. Do you need to in order to get results from your library website integrated into Aspen? No

Having said that about choice, the products libraries choose do sometimes limit the extent of an integration we can do. The inclusion of the word “deep” in this goal is very intentional. We want the library experience to be as seamless as possible for patrons wherever the technology allows it. APIs typically provide the most options and the best integration experience. We work to integrate with other vendor’s APIs when they’re available and we’ll work directly with vendors to build APIs when necessary in order to create the best integrations possible. We also provide APIs to vendors so they can integrate with Aspen. We understand that some vendors can’t or won’t likely create APIs - which is why we build tools like website indexing and sideloading to make sure your patrons can still discover that content.

Goal 2: Maximize User Engagement with the Library

When we think about user engagement, we’re working on how patrons get value from their library and how we can use Aspen to increase that value. Certainly integrating with all the things is part of it. Your patrons need to know their favorite author is visiting or that you have access to Chilton’s online in order to get value out of those services. However, there’s more to it than a simple integration. Aspen strives to provide an appropriate context for displaying resources. “While You Wait” titles only appear when placing a hold, series appear when you’re looking at a title in a series, and the Explore More bar only displays resources when there’s something relevant from another content source.

Aspen also provides librarians with tools to increase user engagement themselves. Browse Categories let you highlight collections that are timely for your community. You can embed Collection Spotlights on any other website to display a set of customized library resources anywhere. Placards let you design content to grab users' attention right when they’re thinking about and searching on a topic where you have something relevant for them. As we move forward with Aspen, we’ll be talking to all of you about other ways you want to use Aspen to reach specific patron groups.

Another way to increase engagement is to meet your patrons where they are. This is one of the reasons we think LiDA is so important. Having an app not only meets a patron's expectation that organizations they interact with frequently will have an app, it also opens up new avenues of interacting with patrons in ways that only apps can. Push notifications are only the beginning, I’m excited to see how patron interaction can grow even more through LiDA and Discovery in the future!

Goal 3: Connect every user with a personalized and accessible library homebase

We’ve talked about meeting patron expectations several times thus far, but there is one expectation that we felt deserved its own goal: the online library experience needs to be able to adjust to the needs and interests of the INDIVIDUAL patron. This is critically important for libraries because it is our mission to serve everyone. And because it is our mission to serve everyone, libraries have tons of materials, a calendar full of events, and multitudes of online resources.

It’s a massive firehose of content and although we do great things with usability, we also understand the need for Aspen to narrow down some of that firehose into a manageable stream for patrons to drink from.

In addition to having specific content needs when coming to the library, many users also have specific delivery needs for how they use the library. Aspen takes accessibility seriously. We have staff trained in accessibility and we strive to keep up with the latest recommendations. We also understand that libraries serve folks with different language needs and preferences, so Aspen Discovery supports many languages, including Mandarin and Arabic, depending on the requirements of the community. Over the coming months and years we’ll continue to expand the ways that Aspen can enable a library that best serves each of us as individuals.

Goal 4: Empower library administrators to customize and expand Aspen

I’ve spent this whole article explaining how our goal is to meet patron expectations by creating one place where patrons can discover and engage with all library content in a way that meets their particular needs and interests. But of course that doesn’t happen without library staff who understand the needs of their community and the power of Aspen to make those goals a reality.

Aspen works well right out of the box and we’re constantly tinkering to make all of the default configuration better. We’ve worked hard this year to create the Aspen Help Center so Aspen Admins can learn and help themselves.

Aspen has also always been highly configurable to ensure libraries can dream big dreams for how their catalogs work and then make them a reality. Ten years ago when I was working in a library using an earlier version of Aspen, we were dreaming up record grouping. The ability to have that specific librarian dream become a reality for our patrons is what attracted me to step out of libraries and work with library discovery directly. It will always be one of our goals to keep that spirit alive in Aspen.

So there you have it, our newly expanded Aspen Goals. We hope these goals resonate with you and dovetail with the goals you’re setting for your libraries. And, as always, we’re so grateful to have all of you to dream and work with us as we create the future of libraries together.

Read more by Jordan Fields

Tags Aspen Discovery