AspenCon24 – our top take-aways

8th April 2024 | Aude Charillon

Aude Charillon and Jacob O’Mara attended AspenCon24 – the first Aspen conference in history! It took place in Golden, Colorado (USA) from 13th to 15th March 2024.

They had a busy time: hosting (Aude was on the AspenCon24 planning committee); presenting (Aspen is international – see recording, 25min); leading workshops (development workshop for Jacob, community website and documentation for Aude).

Here are their top take-aways – in groups of three!

AspenCon24 content

  1. Schedule and slides
  2. Live stream day 1
  3. Live stream day 2


Green area with a building - the AspenCon24 venue - and mountains in the background
AspenCon24 venue: Colorado School of Mines, Golden (before the snow)

Three things we learnt

  1. Aspen’s precursor was called Pika and the Aspen mobile app was started by Christofer Zorn from Ajax Public Library (Canada). (For the full story, see the recording of the conference keynote – 40min)
  2. Things are very different in a prison library! And therefore Aspen has to work very differently… (With thanks to Bob Bennhoff and Ben Wolfe for their talk Discovery for Prison Patrons. Recording – 25min)
  3. It takes twice as long to walk somewhere through snow than on a nice dry pavement.


Two people standing by a lectern at AspenCon24. On the big screen behind them a slide with text: "PTFS Europe. Open source library systems. Founded in the United Kingdom in 2007; part-owned by Bywater Solutions since 2023. Working with 120+ library services; most of them in the UK; all library sectors: public libraries, educational institutions, legal, health, government, special...
Aude and Jacob presenting at AspenCon24


Unexpected things that happened

  1. A winter storm hitting Colorado, which meant snow falling for 36 hours non-stop.
  2. The conference venue closing down because of the storm.
  3. Trudging through the snow in the middle of the storm to go to the workshops relocated in a hotel restaurant!


Snow street and trees with a mountain in the background
Street in Golden after the storm

Talks we recommend you watch

  1. The best of both worlds: using Aspen Discovery in an academic library within a public library consortium, by Linda Kramer. Because Linda and her team pretty much looked at every single option in Aspen to check whether it could be useful for them! (Recording – 30min)
  2. Browse categories as digital signage, by Bryan Jones. Because it’s a functionality you may not have thought about. Plus the developer among us found the way the Nashville Public Library approached the issue  “incredibly interesting”. (Recording – 30min)
  3. The future of Aspen, by Jordan Fields.  To know what features other library people are interested in seeing in Aspen in the future – and which are more likely to become reality. (Recording – 35min)


Ideas gleaned

  1. Use Aspen placards for a catalogue treasure hunt. McKinney Libraries created an Easter treasure hunt on their Kids Catalogue where children had to type the right keywords to find all the bunnies!
  2. Create a second (non-official) Library System on your Aspen site and use it to test Themes and new features. Get a separate URL first then copy all your real site’s settings over to your Test Library System. The ByWater team have some information on the Help Centre explaining how they do it.
  3. Start an Aspen Documentation group. There is already a #documentation channel in the Aspen Discovery Slack workspace, but now is a good time to organise ourselves and help grow the Help Centre and the Aspen Community website together.


Large group of people standing in front of sign saying: "AspenCon 2024, March 13-15 Golden, CO"
With thanks to our friends at ByWater Solutions for the indoors images!



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