- As the largest academic space in most schools, the media center needs to serve many functions, including a central hub for student learning, a place for teachers to collaborate and access instructional technology, and often, a public space for faculty, board and parent association meetings, EdTech reports.
- School leaders, therefore, need to consider several factors when redesigning school media centers and ask for input from students and teachers about what elements of the design would make the space efficient, comfortable and inviting.
- Three trends that are currently popular in media center design are the inclusion of “cocoon zones," such as singular study pods for students who need to work alone without distraction, active or flexible seating that can be changed to meet the needs of students and faculty, and collaborative spaces that allow for groups to work together.
As the use of technology in schools grows, the importance of the school’s media center has also grown. In the past, school libraries were primarily central locations for books and other reference materials, and focused mainly on reading instruction and providing a quiet place for study. Now, media centers support a wide range of subjects and interests and serve as active centers of collaboration. Many school libraries now even include makerspaces to encourage creative exploration.
However, school needs vary widely. Therefore, inviting students, teachers and, of course, media specialists, to a conversation concerning school media centers is important as school leaders revamp and redesign these spaces to be more functional and user-friendly. Parent-teacher organizations may also want a voice in the process, especially if they are raising money for the media center makeover. Grants and crowdfunding are among the other funding options for media center renovations, and a growing number of schools are finding success in those areas.
The media center’s functionality has also increased as the role of the school librarian/media center specialist has evolved over time as well. Today’s media specialists often need to keep abreast of changing technologies, which may require more continuing education or professional development than in the past. With this training, they can be a valuable resource for school principals and district officials. These educators can also provide students with important instruction regarding digital literacy, especially in an age of misinformation.