Waterloo Public Library, Waterloo, IA

Waterloo Public Library, located in the heart of downtown Waterloo, Iowa, has been serving residents since 1896, first from two rented rooms and then moving to a historic building featuring beautiful Italian Renaissance architecture.

The library accommodates nearly 100,000 visitors a year, houses more than 600,000 volumes, and hosts nearly 700 programs for the public annually. In an effort to showcase all the exciting things happening inside the building, officials decided to replace its decades-old signage with a contemporary sign that includes a digital message center manufactured by Watchfire Signs.

The new custom structure, designed by Nagle Signs Inc., of Waterloo, features stacked books that function as a platform for the digital sign. The spine of the books include the library logo and branding. The digital sign is encased in aluminum that is accordion folded to look like pages of an open book. The full sign is approximately 12' x 12'.

According to Brian Buss, with Nagle Signs, Watchfire was specified because the company’s products work reliably and are supported with great customer service. “Watchfire has been our go-to partner for digital displays for more than 15 years,” said Buss. “The products are easy to use and simply work.” The new sign was installed during the pandemic, and played a key role in keeping the public informed about changes in services.

“We initially used the sign to convey pandemic related information, including availability of curbside pickup and other services,” said Amy Rousselow, marketing and volunteer services manager at Waterloo Public Library. “Now that we are reopened, the sign helps us promote our summer programming and other events.”

Since the sign was installed and the library began advertising its services, there has been a dramatic uptick in the number of new library cards issued, and the library has conducted nearly 1,000 curbside pickups. Community support has been overwhelming, with many patrons and visitors to the downtown area using the sign as a backdrop for photographs.

“The mayor came by after the new sign was unveiled and told me it is the best sign he’s seen in the downtown area,” said Rousselow. “The sign is a great addition to this part of the city and is a talking piece for downtown.”

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