My campus bought digital signs for implementation across our faciities, as part of the increased effort to ensure that we’re all prepared in case of emergency. Each campus facility can program their own signs for daily use, but in case of an emergency — severe weather, violent incident, etc — Campus Police and other empowered individuals can push warnings to our signs, thus notifying the occupants of all buildings of the emergency. It’s pretty nifty technology.
We started up our signs largely through the work of two individuals, Marianne Hebert and Keith Compeau, who created a bunch of initial slides about library services, history, information… and then we let them run for a few months, adding and removing content as they needed to. Last week they started doing assessment, and stood in the lobby asking students to fill out a short online survey using our instruction laptops, which were set up on tables. They also asked if students would be willing to have their picture taken and posted on the digital signs with a quote about what they liked best about the libraries.
I just sat at the reference desk and watched that new set of slides roll past, and I’m smiling in fascination. As a baseline, there was one mention of Google Scholar, and two mentions of coffee. The data point that has me grinning is that there were also a half dozen mentions of favorite books and favorite call numbers. There were even more references to “a quiet place to study”, to “actually work on a paper”, and to “not be distracted.”
Libraries are changing. Our services are evolving. But on a lot of levels we’re still doing what we’ve always done — we connect our users to resources, and help them succeed in learning. Just, now, with the addition of the internet. And coffee.