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Internet Librarian 2013 – Digital Signage: Bridging the Divide

Suzanna Conrad and Young Lee

Suzanna presented first. At Cal Poly Pomona they are using a hybrid print and digital signage library.  She feels they do a good job of not over-using signage.  Digital signage allows you to have multiple concepts per sign, but requires a higher level of skill and can be expensive to install or move.  Principles of good signage—it should be positive and welcoming.  Signage is always a work in progress and thinking about what makes sense to people.  How much do your patrons really need to know?  She showed a couple of photos of libraries with multiple signs all next to each other and confusing.  Develop a sign policy with the purpose of digital signage, terms of use, the approval process, technical guidelines and specifications, how to develop a good sign, and copyright/licensing issues.  The biggest problem is still content.  It takes time to generate content (especially video content).  The message needs to be visually pleasing.  Tips for effective PowerPoint slides for signage – answer who/what/where/when/how but only if you have to, limit content and text, adjust for distance viewers, does each slide make sense when viewed separately?  Tips for generating effective video content – get a camera editing program, and find tech savvy or tech eager staff, shoot and edit in the right format (4:3 vs. 16:9), be aware of the length of each video clip, use transitions appropriately, does each frame make sense when viewed separately?  Alternative content from the web—creating a feed page, finding free APIs or feeds, determining how content should be displayed or rotated.  They’re currently running videos with WMP, VBS, scripts, and task schedulers.  They’re testing Apple TVs to replace the WMP process.  They’re also investigating proprietary system add-ons and open source digital signage systems.

Young then presented about his library’s attempt to make legal resource orientation more engaging and interactive.  His library was looking for digital signage that had interactive capabilities, could provide an orientation in an engaging fun manner, and which leverages game theory.  Some of the commercial systems available are the Viewsonic 42” ePoster ($2500, built-in media player) or the 22” ePoster.  Commercial system pros: turnkey, features, quality, support.  Commercial system cons: proprietary, limited options, expensive.  Things to keep in mind if you choose a DIY solution—content, delivery method, display method, make it easy to use and maintain, secure, reliable, inexpensive, looks good, and upgradable.  Tons of options: Smart HDTVs, HDTV monitor + desktop computer/Raspberry Pi/Android mini PC, streaming devices like Roku/AppleTV/Chromecast, all in one computer+monitor, or tablets.  He chose to set up an Android driven system.  The Android OS (mobile) is light on resources, popular, has good management tools, and many available apps.  With Android you can choose tablets, all-in-ones, or mini PCs.  Performance is decent, the devices are readily available, and they’re inexpensive. AutoStart is a good app that will start an app at boot.  SureLock Kiosk Lockdown secures the system and has a free version available.  Dropsync lets you do a full autosync with Dropbox –keep the files all in one place and have multiple kiosks grab the updated files immediately.  Other apps to look at for digital signage: Web Server Ultimate (fully functional server), SureFox Kiosk Browser, OfficeSuite 7, and Digital Photo Frame Slideshow (or Web).  They’re using an HTML5 WebApp–it’ offers offline caching and updating, is content cross platform, interactive and touch-capable, you can easily reuse content on a website, and the kiosk browser app has lots of features built-in.  Some caveats–Android mini PCs have weak wifi strength, some lack true 1080p capability.  Design challenges include mounting and installation.  For the future–no touching but swiping in the air.

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