Digital Signage for Libraries – What to Show

Libraries are synonymous with civilization; they’ve been in existence at least since the third millennium BCE. Sure, today libraries can be completely virtual and online, but what most people think of when they think of a library is a building full of books, magazines and newspapers. That means people negotiating a physical space to find what they want. Which means signage to help them do that. Library digital signage is the key to engaging people and getting them what they need.

Traditional library signage is less effective to modern audiences than digital signage. It’s static, so more easily overlooked; it often doesn’t look great, made of cheap materials that wear down over time and give an aged and outdated feeling to the library space; and is difficult if not impossible to update with new information.

Digital signage content can be updated in real time, so people always know exactly what’s current. Automated feeds for date, time and weather and news connect the library to the outside world, and traffic and transportation options can help people plan their visit more effectively. Interactive displays can make use of wayfinding technology, so getting around the library is a simple matter. And in the event of an emergency, the entire system can be put into alert mode, with clear instructions and evacuation routes.

Typical content for library digital signage includes:

  • New book arrivals, as well as other media (DVDs, CDs, etc.)
  • Staff picks for hot books in particular categories
  • Library announcements to visitors and staff
  • Reminders of rules and procedures
  • Special events, like classes, meetings, readings and visiting authors
  • Welcome messages and hours of operation
  • Community announcements and nearby events

With these basic types of messages, the library becomes much more than an archive of materials – it becomes a dynamic space that informs the visitor and knits the library into the community it serves. But library digital signage can go much further.

A lot of recent thinking about digital signage has been about creating a more consumer-like experience, and what’s the number one consumer portal for books these days? Amazon. Look at all the capabilities Amazon’s website has to offer, and think about how your library can present the same things.

Interactive touchscreens and kiosks allow vast amounts of information to be literally at the visitors’ fingertips. Search for resources by genre, author, publisher, publication date or language; allow book returns at the spot without making people wait in line; reviews of books and other materials like professional critiques and staff assessments; or even let the community get involved with an interactive rating system and surveys.

Interactive signage offers much more as well

  • In-depth profiles of the building itself or the staff
  • Author bios with links to most popular books
  • Wayfinding and maps of both the interior and area outside the library
  • Messages and links to civic sights, events and activities
  • A local business directory, and even health advice

Libraries can even expand their services, allowing people to pay bills for utilities and other city services with an online portal. And if the library has a cafe, menu boards can show what’s available, daily specials, operating hours and wait times.

Books can have RFID tags pasted onto them, which can make tracking them fast and easy, and even speed up the checkout process. By combining these with proximity beacons and sensors, the type of messages that get displayed can change depending on what kind of book a visitor is carrying to or from the shelves.

Shared spaces, like meeting or event rooms, reading rooms or listening booths, can use digital room signs to allow people to book time in the space right at the sign, or see how long the current occupant has the room booked for, so they can plan their visit better. Many libraries offer free or inexpensive access to internet workstations, and our digital signage software can tell people how many stations are currently available (and where they are), and help reduce perceived wait times.

Library digital signage can even generate revenue. Partner with local businesses to offer ad space on your screens. By using QR tags in the messages, local vendors can even offer electronic coupons to drive business their way. And recognizing people who donate time or money to the library is easy with a digital donor board in the main area.

Your digital signage doesn’t just have to be public-facing – you can use it in staff areas to keep employees informed of event schedules, lunch breaks, availability of rooms, training opportunities and more.

The cost-to-benefit ratio is high for digital signage – especially important for libraries that are 501(c)3 non-profit entities. With a fairly small initial investment and some training, a comprehensive, dynamic digital signage system can be up and running in no time. Staff will actually find that the screens answer a lot of basic questions people have, freeing them up to offer more personalized service to visitors.

Digital signage can bring your library into the 21st century, making it a modern hub of civic activity.