If you have any experience with conventional, static signage, you know how ineffective it can be. People are so used to seeing posters, placards, and signs that they barely register anymore. Unless they’re very big or very colorful. Even then, they tend to go unnoticed. This is where library digital signage comes in.
In a public or school library setting, where community events are held, hours or guidelines can change depending on circumstances. Poor signage can create a rift between patrons and the establishment. When people feel the lines of communication are open, however, it builds a welcoming atmosphere. And it improves patrons’ experiences at the library.
That’s one of the reasons that libraries around the world have been switching to digital signs. Library digital signage makes getting information to patrons easier and more efficient. It allows for new kinds of creative displays and fresh ways to engage library patrons. This guide will briefly explain the main benefits of electronic signage and explain everything you need to know to start incorporating it in your own library.
Benefits of Digital Signage
Digital signage refers to any sort of information displayed to patrons on a screen, so it can mean a lot of different things. Regardless of the specifics, though, electronic signage has a few distinct advantages over static signs.
First, it’s naturally more eye-catching. Screens produce light, which ensures that information on an electronic sign will always be visible, no matter the lighting. It also allows colors to appear brighter, and naturally attracts the gaze of your patrons.
Another major benefit is the ability of a signage display to change on the fly. An electronic sign can display a slideshow of different informational slides, allowing you to bundle what would have been ten different signs, flyers, and posters into one. The motion of switching between slides will also help to attract attention.
Because digital signs can be updated quickly and on short notice, you have much more flexibility with them. The turnaround from concept to publication is quicker than with a static sign. And in the event that a mistake goes unnoticed before publication, it can be updated remotely and without the hassle of tearing anything off the wall. Digital signs don’t require paper or ink, either. So, over a long enough period of time, they can pay for themselves in money saved.
All these things also make electronic signs more attractive to advertisers and partners, who want to be sure their message is seen.
How to Get Started
To set up your library digital signage, you’ll need a handful of things. First, you’ll need the hardware, consisting of a digital signage player and a screen. You’ll also need software, which will vary depending on which player you choose. Once you have those things, you will need to set up a method for creating content to display on the sign, which will be different for every library. This guide will take you through each step in turn.
Digital Signage Hardware
All electronic signage hardware has the same basic purpose, to play your content onto the screen. The quality of the screen you use will dictate the visual fidelity. And the design of the content you create will dictate how patrons react to it. It’s safe to say that most of the time, one signage player is about as good as another.
There are a few special features that you might look for, depending on how you intend to use your signs.
If you need to be able to make adjustments while away from the sign network, you’ll want web-based management capabilities. This would allow you to manage the signs from anywhere with a wifi connection using a browser portal. If you want more freedom to display web content, look for HTML 5 support. For museum-style displays, you may want a player capable of audio output. This way, you can play explanations or music alongside an exhibit.
Digital Signage Software
Some electronic signage solutions require software from other sources. While others, like the NexSigns system, are built alongside an associated piece of hardware from the ground up. In a pinch, a laptop running google slides can give you a basic kind of digital sign loop. But it’s a good idea to go for the higher-end options if you can. If your library is growing, or the city it serves is, you’ll want software that’s flexible enough to accommodate new needs as they appear.
How to Design Good Library Digital Signage Content
Once you have your system set up, you still need to have something for the signs to display. The content will depend on your needs, but there are some general best practices which will improve the quality of whatever you make.
The first rule of digital sign design is this: Keep it simple.
The more cluttered a sign is, the less inclined your patrons will be to read it. Convey the information you need to as concisely as possible, and in large, easily readable lettering. If there’s more information than you can display on the sign, display a link to your website instead, so interested patrons can follow it to get the whole story.
The second rule is to use pictures!
A well-designed image, whether it’s a photograph or a drawing, will catch the viewer’s eye and draw them into reading any nearby text. The human brain processes images significantly faster than text, too, so if you can convey any of the information you need to through a picture, then you should do so.
The third rule is build a mood.
You want the style of the digital signs in your library to be somewhat consistent with each other at any given time, and you want them to make patrons feel welcome. You can do this by using themes and motifs. If your library already has a well established brand, incorporate your logo or mascot into some of the library related sign content. If there’s a holiday coming up, you can theme your sign designs around it, or just give them seasonal themes. People often come to the library to work or study, and creating a pleasant atmosphere can improve their experiences.
Digital Sign Placement
One last thing to consider is where you place your signs. You want to put signs displaying general library information in places that people are either passing through frequently, like entrances and exits, or in places where people wait and lines form, like near the checkout desk. Patrons focusing on reading don’t want any interruptions. Therefore, keep electronic signs with lots of motion or signs that play audio away from quiet areas and the stacks. If your library has a cafe, then consider placing a sign near there, or anywhere else that people gather and socialize.
We hope that this guide has helped you plan out your digital signage strategy. Good luck!