Middlesbrough Libraries have successfully implemented Aspen Discovery

7th December 2023 | Fiona Borthwick

New Website Boosts Libraries’ Cutting Edge Online Service
Middlesbrough’s popular Libraries Service has added a major boost to its online offer thanks to a successful grant bid.
The new Aspen website will enable the service to offer its entire physical and digital stock to customers through a single search for the first time.
For example, a library user entering ‘Transporter Bridge’ as a search term in the Aspen site would be given a number of catalogue entries for books, as well as links to digitised photographs from the Middlesbrough Libraries online photographic collection.
The state-of-the-art upgrade has been made possible thanks to a successful funding bid to the £1.09 million LibraryOn grants programme.
Supported by Arts Council England and facilitated by the British Library, the LibraryOn fund enables library services to boost their digital presence and enhance their discoverability for new and existing users.
Middlesbrough was one of 27 local authorities in England to receive a slice from the fund as part of a competitive process which saw expressions of interest from more than 60 councils.
Fiona Borthwick, Head of Sales and Account Management at library software developers PTFS Europe, said: “ Middlesbrough Libraries immediately recognised the benefits that Aspen could bring to their library service by offering an innovative, modern and accessible platform which increases user engagement and access to all library resources.
“We are thrilled to see that the library users now have an exceptional service that makes discovering and accessing resources easier than ever.”
David Harrington, Project Manager and Digital Lead for Middlesbrough Libraries, said: “Our key priority was to create a single point of access to showcase all of our physical and digital stock including our range of online resources for example our photographic collection to enhance the overall customer experience.
“The implementation of Aspen strongly supports this goal which is a key milestone in our transformed digital offer.”


Councillor Janet Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Community Safety, said: “Once again our first class libraries are right at the forefront in ensuring readers and book lovers have cutting edge access to our collections and the best possible online experience.
“The implementation of the Aspen website is a major improvement, and one that further strengthens the hugely important role our libraries play within our communities.
“Congratulations to everyone involved in a successful bid whose benefits will be felt for many years to come.”
Liz White, Head of Public Libraries and Community Engagement at the British Library, said: “We’re excited to see this grant award for library services in areas across England, balancing investment in core offers with a wide variety of opportunities for digital innovation, user research and shared learning about ways of working.
“This reflects our goal to increase the number of people using public libraries and raise awareness about their enduring value and importance.”
Councillor Janet Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Community Safety and David Harrington, Project Manager and Digital Lead with Middlesbrough Libraries, try out the service’s new Aspen website that makes physical and digital stock accessible to library users online for the first time.


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