Digital signage as communication past present and future uses in libraries
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Digital Signage as Communication: Past, Present and Future Uses in Libraries. Presented by: Cecile Farnum, Communications and Liaison Librarian Ryerson University Library. Defining Digital Signage.

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Digital Signage as Communication: Past, Present and Future Uses in Libraries

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Digital Signage as Communication: Past, Present and Future Uses in Libraries

Presented by: Cecile Farnum, Communications and Liaison Librarian

Ryerson University Library


Defining Digital Signage

  • Also known as DVM (digital visual messaging), narrowcasting, dynamic digital displays or electronic billboards

  • Combination of high-resolution digital display such as an LCD flat-screen with a dedicated computer delivering content (text, images, digital video) to one or multiple locations and the creation of content to a customer base


Where is it Used?

  • Largely utilized in the retail sector, but also in the corporate sector, restaurants, hotels and conference centers

  • Now being used in more public venues, such as TTC stations, government buildings, and university and college campuses


Ryerson @ Yonge & Dundas


How Does is it Work?

  • PC, with digital content, connects to LCD panel, and broadcasts content in a continuous loop using sign management software


What’s the Retail Advantage?

  • Sharper image quality and sleek design

  • Now more affordable

  • Attention-getter for the ‘screenager’

  • Less reliance and less expenditure on print communications and marketing campaigns

  • Digital signage networks allow for rapid updating from desktop


What’s the Retail Advantage?

  • Niche-casting opportunities

  • Multiple messaging on a single screen

  • Changes in mass media advertising outlets

  • Connects branch outlets with common messaging

  • Flexibility - catches people “on-the-go” & at point-of-purchase


What is the Library advantage?

Although different, there are some similarities between the retail and the Library environments:

  • In an academic library, ‘screenagers’ are our major client base

  • Rapid updating is needed to keep students informed

  • Movement from print to digital


What’s the Library advantage?

  • Need for nichecasting – target unique user groups at different times, and with different content

  • Multiple messaging – library environment is dynamic – new services, collections, depts competing for marketing space

  • Can connect branch libraries, and connect university to the library


Old Wine in New Bottles

  • Allows you to reduce, re-use and recycle:

  • Reduce reliance on paper signage, posters

  • Reuse web content, images, brands, logos, Flash presentations

  • Recycle your promotional messages continuously


Case Studies: Boston Public Library

  • In 2001, BPL bought 3 38 “ LCD panels and created a visual banner in the lobby of their main branch

  • About 6,000 visitors to the Library daily

  • Mounted 20 feet above entrance in a single row


Boston Public Library

  • In addition to the LCD panel, also purchased a digital media controller and SignSuite™ software

  • Software allows creation of content by dragging and dropping of media (images, Web content, text, even video and DVD clips) into a sequence.

  • Content provides current and upcoming activities and programs, important announcements relating to the library's collection, etc.


Kapiolani Library, University of Hawaii

  • In 1994, as part of a re-design of the library, introduced a design concept that integrates television newscasts with traditional library resources, such as books, periodicals, etc.

  • Decided to integrate a large-screen television playing continuous local and international newscasts (CNN) into library services


Kapiolani Library, University of Hawaii

  • Design of the floor is to encourage students to take a current event from the news and then conduct in-depth research using the traditional library resources located on the floor

  • Students will make the connection between current events and classroom curriculum, and the Library as a place to help facilitate this connection


Kapiolani Library, floor plan


Newsware Alcove

  • Continuous cable news on a 61” screen, with additional smaller monitors showing local news broadcasts

  • Alcove is sunken 3 feet to help control sound, and provide seating for students

  • Integration with faculty instruction – students assigned to watch programming


Response from Library Users

  • Attracts “browsers” between classes, and those interested in following major news events

  • Some expressed concern that television isn’t appropriate in a library

  • Complaints about sound emitting from the alcove

    Source: Webb, T.D. “NewsWare: Integrating Mass Communications and Library Resources." In Building libraries for the 21st century. McFarland & Co., 2001, 105-121.


Ryerson Library Experience

  • Early in 2004, received $1 million from alumnus Ron Besse, to build the Ronald D. Besse Information and Learning Commons on main floor

  • Design build team saw opportunity for an LCD panel at Library entrance in the newly re-configured lobby


Possible University Partners?

  • 1st floor renovations coincided with university interest in a collective venture to implement digital signage across campus

  • Met as a group with a company who produced digital signage solutions, with representation from interested departments to discuss possibility of sharing software and content

  • Build community and collaboration across campus through digital signage network


Possible University Partners?

  • Although meeting was positive, some concerns:

  • Politics of sharing content with others – would the Library message get lost?

  • Collaboration would create the potential for loss of autonomy in terms of choice of software, etc.

  • RFP process would be lengthy


What to do?

  • Decision to buy hardware

  • Met with some digital signage companies independently, but were reluctant to commit

  • Should university decide to pursue digital signage network on campus, didn’t want to commit to a software


Choosing the Hardware

  • Systems-side looked at LCD screens

  • Needed to fit budget and size of space

  • Purchased a 40” LCD display – about $7,000

  • Installation in lobby in the summer 2005


Programming the Content

  • Needed to put some kind of content in the LCD

  • Decided to tap into an existing cable feed on campus and display headline news – CBC newsworld, CTV newsnet

  • No closed captioning, but sound is enabled


Shopping for Software

  • Met with several vendors to look at options

  • Buy-out-of-the-box or could customize a solution

  • Can purchase LCD panel through distributor

  • Software and equipment maintenance on an annual basis

  • Rental options available

  • $10 000 – $15 000


Using PowerPoint

  • Needed to generate content to promote the Library, but no software or administrative tool

  • Decided to use PowerPoint presentation software to promote Library collections and services, and to update users

  • LCD linked to CPU located in the Commons to run slides on a continuous loop


Where did we find content?

  • Remember the 3Rs

  • What’s New : new books, e-resources, etc.

  • Website ‘whitespace’

  • Welcome messages to visitors

  • Other departments


Creating Slideshows

  • Used images where possible, with content

  • Each slide would display for 15-30 seconds

  • Identify pertinent messages for the week and create slide presentations

  • Balance between informing and overwhelming

  • Choose a variety – collections, services, news, etc.


What is the value?

  • Visual draw into the Library

  • Keeps students informed

  • Allows for nichecasting

  • Updating of content

  • Building collaboration


Feedback from the community

  • Positive – “think the TV screen provides good current information on what is happening in the library.”

  • Negative - “…was shocked and angered by the flat screen TV that has recently (as of last year) been installed at the entrance to the library. Its position is strategic, so that no student can avoid being hit with whatever news programme or advertisement is currently being shown…”

  • Interest from the student press and the issue of advertising on campus


What’s Next?

  • To make maximum use, should purchase software to program and publish content more efficiently and fully utilize screen

  • Is one LCD enough in a vertical space?

  • Policies or guidelines around use of LCD panel

  • Finding partnerships

  • Staffing the service


Thank you!

Any Questions?


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