5 Design Tips for an Elementary Media Center

5 Design Tips for an Elementary Media Center

Author: Dr. Christina Counts

Away with dark and boring brown school libraries! Make your library a place kids love to visit and learn skills to prepare them for the future at the same time!

Elementary Media Center

The media center is an important place for learning, discovery, and collaboration, especially for elementary school students who often spend most of their day in one classroom with the same classmates and teacher. For many elementary students, the media center is an exciting place where they can explore new ideas and do something fun outside their classroom. Going to the media center gives children an opportunity to seek out books and activities that they are passionate about, helping to engage them more deeply in their learning. Plus, the media center lounge space provides an environment where students can learn new skills and practice utilizing important tools that they will use the rest of their lives.

As a central hub for more than just reading materials and a valuable space for gathering and collaboration, an elementary media center should be designed carefully and thoughtfully to meet the needs of a wide range of students and teachers. Well-designed media center spaces provide a space for a diverse student body to engage in many different activities to support their learning, excite and engage them, and promote social emotional learning.

Here are five design tips for an elementary media center:

Consider students’ needs and accessibility when selecting shelving

Elementary students tend to be small in stature, so smaller shelving should be selected with their size in mind so they can see and reach books independently. Additionally, forward-facing bookshelves can aid students who aren’t independent readers to choose books to read based on the covers. MiEN customer, Robert D. Johnson Elementary School, implemented elementary-friendly shelving excellently, with a functional area on top of shelves to display a rotating selection of recommended books. Making reading materials accessible to students with different abilities and support needs makes the library a more engaging and usable space for all.

Choose furnishings that are lightweight and mobile

A modern elementary media center is flexible and should be able to be transformed to fit the changing needs of the space. Lightweight and mobile furnishings––such as lightweight bookshelves, tables, and chairs on casters that are designed to be easy to move––make it easy for the space to be reconfigured as needed. Cumberland Trace Elementary School––a MiEN customer––utilized a creative range of mobile and multi-functional furnishings to make their space flexible, including rolling tables and chairs, mobile markerboards, KIO Curved Mobile Bookcases, and EGR Makerspace Cabinets.

Height-adjustable seating and tables can accommodate a variety of students

Bringing adjustable seating and desks into your elementary media center is the only way to ensure the space will be able to accommodate a wide range of age groups, abilities, and learning needs. Adjustable furnishings allow students to customize their personal learning area to meet their comfort needs, enabling them to relax and focus on their learning.

Add a tiered seating area to encourage group learning

The media center shouldn’t just be a place for finding and reading books and using computers, it should also function as a gathering space for classes, grades, or clubs at your school. To make the media center a practical group learning space, consider the addition of a tiered seating area. At Cumberland Trace Elementary, designers implemented MiEN FLEX Steps to mimic bleacher or stadium seating in a more organic and functional way for a library space. Modular seating and floor seating options can provide the function of tiered seating without bringing bulky bleachers into your space––plus, the area is still useful when students aren’t participating in group learning activities.

Design a lively interior to engage children’s imaginations

Selecting bright, lively furnishings in an exciting color palette can help to create an engaging space for children’s imaginations to soar. Choosing the color palette for your media center is important––the colors in learning spaces can influence mood, behaviors, and perceptions. Colors like red and orange can stimulate the brain and increase alertness, creativity, and engagement, making these colors a great place to start when designing a lively elementary media center space.

These design tips can help you create an engaging and functional elementary media center space that students and teachers are excited to use. MiEN is a great design partner if you’re looking to create a lively and innovative space that supports active learning and collaboration.

Dr. Christina Counts, VP of Education for MiEN Environments, is a proven leader with a successful background in transforming learning spaces into modern engaging learning environments. Dr. Counts has worked in education for over 17 years with experience as a classroom teacher, district instructional leader, school administrator, and digital and innovative learning designer. In her most recent position, Christina leads a team of professionals that support schools making the transition to a flexible, collaborative, & student-centered learning space.  She holds a doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership, National Board-certified, and Google & Apple certified. Dr. Counts envisions a learning space in which educators are empowered to transform education through design, technology and innovative instructional pedagogy to create learners ready for any future!