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Photo by Deb Gau Emilirose Rasmusson, web and technology librarian at the Marshall-Lyon County Library, demonstrates the new Aspen Discovery online catalog system.

MARSHALL — A new online catalog system at the Marshall-Lyon County library doesn’t just make it easier to find books — it can make reading recommendations, and even help patrons check out library materials.

“People have been excited about it as soon as they learn you can have your library card on your phone,” said Emilirose Rasmusson, web and technology librarian at MLCL.

Last week, the Plum Creek Library System launched Aspen Discovery, an online catalog designed to make it easier to find library materials all in one place. Library users in the Plum Creek system can use the service either through their library’s website, or by downloading the free Aspen LiDA phone app. The app not only lets library users browse the catalog and place holds on library materials, it lets them pull up their library card bar code on their phone.

The libraries in the Plum Creek system are the first in Minnesota to use Aspen Discovery, PCLS said in a news release. PCLS has 26 member libraries — including MLCL — across nine counties in southwest Minnesota.

“Our goal at Plum Creek Library System is to connect the people with library materials,” said PCLS Director Elizabeth Hoffman. “Aspen Discovery makes it easy for library users to access more resources.”

Rasmusson said library users can access Aspen Discovery at the MLCL website to find books and other materials in the Marshall-Lyon County Library collection, as well as in the Plum Creek system.

“It makes it a lot easier to find what you’re looking for,” she said of the new system. Library patrons can search for a book title and see all the available formats it can be checked out in, including audio books and e-books. Patrons can also use Aspen Discovery to place holds on library materials, including materials in MLCL’s digital library services like OverDrive and Hoopla.

Aspen Discovery also has features that let users browse the library catalog.

When you access the online catalog or the Aspen LiDA app, “You’re now going to see different collections in our library,” Rasmusson said. The categories can help library patrons find new arrivals in fiction, non-fiction, kids’ books and more. Aspen Discovery can also provide users with book recommendations.

One exciting part of Aspen Discovery is its phone app, Aspen LiDA, Rasmusson said. Aspen LiDA, short for “Library Discovery App,” is available for free from Google Play and the Apple App Store. Rasmusson said QR codes to download the app have been posted on the MLCL bulletin board, the circulation desks and at the library’s self-checkout.

The Aspen LiDA app not only gives library users access to the MLCL online catalog, but they can also display their library bar code on their phones. Rasmusson said that’s come in handy for MLCL patrons checking out materials. People may not always have their library cards with them when they visit, but they’re likely to have their cell phones, she said.

Library users who download the Aspen LiDA app on their smartphones will need to select their local library, and then enter their library card bar code number and PIN, Rasmusson said. Once it’s set up, the app gives Marshall area patrons access to the same online catalog they would see on the MLCL website.

Rasmusson said MLCL staff can help answer questions about Aspen Discovery. However, there haven’t been many questions so far over the past week.

“I think that speaks to how user-friendly it is,” she said.

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