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American University: Expanding Information Delivery

Northwest Washington, D.C.’s American University (AU) has an impressive library: 1,035,000 volumes, more than 1 million microfilms, 36,900 sound recordings, 21,055 electronic journals, 13,600 musical scores, 11,400 films and videos, 2,900 print periodicals, and 65+ newspaper subscriptions. They get a lot of student traffic for these resources and attending library classes. “We wanted to present information to people as they enter the library,” says Evgeny Bisk, Team Leader, Systems for the AU Library. “All we had was a desktop computer on the front desk running PowerPoints.”

After “an excellent presentation” on university digital signage by a Visix account representative, Bisk and his team “saw how easy it is to create, publish, alter and display content.” They purchased AxisTV Digital Signage Software – Professional Edition, two channel players and a Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA) through Systems Integrators, an AV specialist in the Washington area.

“We put up a 42-inch screen in the main lobby,” Bisk tells us, “to send information on library classes and initiatives, library policies – like ‘no cell phones, please’. Displays point users to the lower levels, where they can check out laptops if the desktop computers are all full. We also utilize the Screensaver option, to communicate if we haven’t caught them at the entrance.”

The screen shows relevant content in three windows, with a cable feed in a smaller window and weather updates. “We also liked the emergency ticker option,” continues Bisk. “Students gather around the display to watch the CNN feed and then they get the other messages at the same time.”

AU then added AxisTV to the entrance point in the Anderson Computing Complex, a state-of-the-art facility with over 160 internet-ready computers and five electronic classrooms. “The ease of content creation, because it’s web-based, just couldn’t be easier,” explains Bisk.

An in-house graphic designer does a lot of the content creation, as does the webmaster, mainly using PowerPoint and custom graphics made in PhotoShop, with the occasional Flash animation. “We also have two or three other people working on content and may expand soon, to, for example, the reference desk.”

The AU library is planning to add AxisTV’s Web Page Bulletin option. “I want to show how many computers are currently free so people will know upon arrival whether to go to the computing center or head downstairs and check out a laptop.”