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a picture of a digital sign outside the library

After many years of patron requests for a brighter, more readable exterior sign, it’s almost here! Last year, the District began the process of replacing our existing electronic sign at the corner of Cedar and Ness’ Corner Road. We signed a contract with winning bidder Hanson Signs in early November 2023, and none too soon – on November 14, 2023, our existing sign “died” and has been inoperable since.

In mid-February 2024, we learned that in order to get a permit to replace the existing sign with a new one in the same location, the Department of Community Development (DCD) office would need to send notices to local residents alerting them to the new sign installation. With that in mind, here is a short Q&A with information about this exciting and long-overdue project:

Q: Why does the District need a new electronic sign?

A: The District’s existing (now broken and inoperable) sign provided two lines of changeable text, each approximately 4” high, displayed using small amber bulbs. Many passers-by had commented over the years on the small text, dim lights, and general difficulties reading the sign when driving past; the limited text space on the old sign meant even basic messages such as library hours required two screens to display the information, and those driving past were unable to view the entire message. Also, changing the message on the sign required a staff member to program a small obsolete device inside the library using unsupported and outdated software, then take the device outside and plug it directly into the sign – not a hardship most of the year, but challenging in situations such as snow or ice storms when the District had to close. The sign needed to be updated quickly to convey that information to the public. 

Q: Will the text be easier to read than the old sign? 

A: Yes! The text can be made significantly larger (as well as brighter) than the old sign. Additionally, the software will allow us to control how long each message/image is “held” before changing to the next. For example, a message with three lines of text could be held for six seconds, while an image of our Summer Reading Program logo (without text) might be held for two seconds. Both elements – larger text and more control over hold times – should make this sign easier to read for drivers, bikers, and anyone passing by the library. 

Q: How large is the new sign compared to the old one?

A: The new sign is approximately the same height as the old one, but has a lighted top section with the District’s name and logo and a digital message screen below. The overall dimensions of the sign are 85” x 87” x 18” (see image below with dimensions).

new digital sign image with dimensions

Q: How bright will the new sign be? Will it be dimmed or turned off at night?

A: The new sign will be significantly brighter than the old sign, as requested by our patrons. However, it is easily programmable to dim at sunset (or any selected time) and/or turn off overnight. We intend to use recommendations from the International Dark-Sky Association’s Guidance for Electronic Message Centers (EMCs) to determine the best method for keeping light pollution as low as possible and reducing energy waste. 

Q: Will the new sign require the same staff effort to change the messages displayed?

A: Thankfully, no. As much as some of our staff have enjoyed needing to snowshoe into work to change the sign message during a snowstorm (!), the new sign will not need to be manually updated. It uses cloud-based software and wireless technology, so library staff can update the sign from within the library – or from home if the District has closed due to inclement weather and it is unsafe to drive in.

Q: How is the District paying for the new sign?

A: The District first allocated funding from its Capital fund for a new digital sign in the Fall of 2022.  At that time, a new sign (including installation) was anticipated to cost roughly $30,000-35,000. The sign we are purchasing today in 2024 will cost roughly $40,000 (including the removal of the old sign and installation of a new one). The District’s original allocation of Capital funding is being generously supplemented by the Friends of the Jefferson County Library, who are contributing $6,500 toward the purchase.

If you have further questions, please contact us – we’re excited to bring this project to completion!


Dr. Tamara Meredith
Director, Jefferson County Library District