Technological advances are forcing constant changes in libraries across the nation. It is important to note that these changes encompass more than just computer hardware and software. At the Butler Area Public Library, located in Butler, PA, even the bulletin board has been replaced with what is commonly referred to as “digital signage.” With digital signage, news announcements, event information, etc., can be shown throughout the library via LCD television monitors. Fortunately, over time LCDs have become increasingly inexpensive.
From the onset, the Butler library was discouraged by cost estimates from professional signage systems such as 3M, Cisco and CDW. Being a medium-sized library, such large expenditures are typically unattainable. The library finally decided to design and build its own system. As their computer technician, I was able to research, design, present and eventually install the new system.
Here’s how we did it:
My number one goal was to keep the system as simple as possible; allowing non-tech staff to easily update the content. I concluded early on that Microsoft PowerPoint could assist in this goal. PowerPoint is simple; all staff members have it available to them and are comfortable with it; and, best of all, the library already owns it.
My second goal was to use resources the library already possesses to drastically cut costs.
With these two major goals in mind, I researched ways for the content to be distributed to the television monitors. My search for methods to distribute video led me to one clear winner: JustAddPower.com. The company sells small devices that transmit high-definition video and audio over a computer network in a very simple and expandable manner. With these devices, a video source is plugged into one of the transmitters, which is connected to all the receivers via a standard computer network switch and computer network cable that is already installed.
Selection of the televisions was the easiest part of the project. LCD televisions have become very affordable within the last few years making it easy to find great deals. The model we chose has great features that help tremendously with daily maintenance, including auto on/off and locked buttons to prevent patrons from interfering with their function.
Over all, the setup cost is the value of the television, a JustAddPower receiver for each, and a single JustAddPower transmitter. The Butler library incurred additional costs such as having power outlets installed due to placement of the televisions; (two of them are located near the ceiling.)
It is my desire that our experience with this project are useful to other libraries interested in implementing this concept. Additional detailed information is available at www.butlerlibrary.info/signage.
Matthew E. Maine
Computer Support Technician
Butler Area Public Library
This post is part of a series marking World