If you’ve been to Bertrand Library, you are likely fairly familiar with how complex the building is. Unfortunately, when you merge a 1955 building with a 1987 addition and vary the number of floors in each half you get a very complex structure. We are regularly trying to figure out how to improve our signage to help people better find their way. Fortunately, MOST of what is in the building is fairly static. However, some things do change such as the locations and names of some departments and as well our books, as we move these around to make best use of available space. Often times, despite our best efforts to make good static signs, they either become outdated or are just too difficult for library visitors to understand. We’d love to imagine a person standing in many places in the building answering questions such as: where is the nearest men’s room, how do I get to the PN’s from here, where is the Traditional Reading Room and which staircase should I take? While there are digital signage solutions that cost 10s if not 100s of thousands of dollars, many do not handle well this sort of information. Instead these solutions often want to provide static displays of more general informational content or just project a map. We imagine there may be some way to create a digital guide of sorts to answer these kinds of questions, but less expensively.
To work for the library, we would need a solution that was fairly platform and hardware independent. We would want to set up our display on readily available commercial hardware, perhaps a standard monitor or smaller tablet, and have it work equally well. We would have to reasonably be able to secure it so it wouldn’t be stolen. Presuming network is required, it would have to rely entirely on wireless.
The system would require some sort of data source. This data source needs to be something we can revise fairly easily. And, as it might have a map or other visual, we need to be able to revise the visual as well since walls, doors and uses change regularly.
We like the idea that it somehow shows you not just where you are and where the ‘thing’ is that you are looking for, but that it might offer some basic instruction on how to get there. However, this does require that it be location aware, as we would locate something like this in a variety of locations around the building—including different floors—so the starting point for each device would be different.
Points of Contact
- Carrie Rampp, Director of Library Services, Bucknell University