Aspen LiDA is a wonderful tool for patrons to more easily use their library from more devices. We're excited to have worked with the Aspen community to launch Aspen LiDA and we're excited to continue to work with them to continue the evolution of Aspen LiDA!" - Mark Noble, Aspen Discovery Team Lead
ByWater Solutions, America's forefront provider of open-source library technology support, announced today that they have launched Aspen LiDA (pronounced Lee-dah; Library Discovery App), a companion app to Aspen Discovery.
Aspen Discovery provides a simple and powerful way for patrons to find exactly what they are looking for in their library's catalog. Now with Aspen LiDA, they have access wherever they are. We believe that patrons deserve a better way to discover all the amazing resources that libraries offer, and with Aspen LiDA, everything is in the palm of their hands.
When we started development of Aspen LiDA, we knew we wanted a platform that was easy to maintain on a variety of devices and that had a robust community around it. Of course, we also needed the code to be Open Source so that it can be extended by our team and developers at other libraries. Christofer Zorn at AJAX Public Library in Canada had built an app that met these needs and formed a strong foundation for Aspen LiDA. By utilizing the APIs within Aspen Discovery, we were able to leverage functionality to make it easier to create the app and ensure consistency between Aspen Discovery and Aspen LiDA. Because Aspen LiDA and Aspen Discovery are both Open Source, we were able to iterate quickly with our partners as they contributed code to help advance the development of Aspen LiDA from a few year project to a few month project!
Because we had a strong foundation to build on, Kirstien Kroeger, ByWater Solutions' lead developer for Aspen LiDA, was able to concentrate on functionality that was unique for supporting the needs of multiple libraries within a single app.
We currently have approximately 900 libraries active within Aspen LiDA and that number is growing continuously. Obviously, that is more libraries than can be easily browsed by a patron so we needed to find a way for patrons to quickly find their library. We turned to geolocation to make it easy for patrons to find libraries within 60 miles of their current location to get a more limited view of libraries. Once the number of libraries has been limited, they can easily select their location from that list.
As patrons login to Aspen LiDA we are able to use information about the library they have selected to personalize Aspen LiDA to them based on settings that the library configures within Aspen Discovery. By using Aspen Discovery as the central location where all customization is done, we are able to streamline the administration of both Aspen Discovery and Aspen LiDA to provide a consistent look and feel for patrons.
Another example of Administration carrying over between Aspen Discovery and Aspen LiDA are the Browse Categories that allow patrons to easily discover materials that they might not otherwise know about. Many libraries use Browse Categories to highlight seasonal content, special collections, popular materials and more. Within Aspen Discovery, any staff curated list and any search can be turned into a Browse Category with just a couple of clicks. As new categories are created within Aspen Discovery, they will automatically appear within Aspen LiDA. If a library is part of a consortium, the categories are also unique to each library within the consortium so each library can have it's own branding and best serve it's patrons. Similarly, searching within Aspen LiDA is specific to the patron's home library so that materials they have access to are displayed. Because Aspen LiDA uses the Aspen APIs we maintain the speed of searching, have highly relevant results, and we're able to show all formats that a title is available in.
When first loading up Aspen LiDA after logging in, patrons are delivered a beautiful "Netflix-style" grid of cover art. In this initial screen, each Browse Category (and it's subcategories) is given a grid of cover art that allow patrons to easily find and discover new materials. For traditional catalog searchers, patrons can dive into materials by using the Search screen. Just as you expect, here you can search based on keyword or title. To inspire a patron's journey through the catalog, we've also offered a few ready-to-use "predefined" popular searches like Superheroes or U.S. History. Patrons can easily find physical materials, as well as check out, place holds, and access e-content directly from the app.
We are already finding libraries and their users are loving the ease of use and functionalities available with Aspen LiDA. We were able to launch the app in a matter of a few months thanks to feedback and testing in the Aspen Community. We continue working each day to add increased functionality in the app that meets and exceeds the needs of Aspen libraries and their users.