5 Steps to Take When Building a 21st Century Media Center

5 Steps to Take When Building a 21st Century Media Center

Author: Miranda Klemp

When Voorhees School District decided to give all of its media centers makeovers, Osage Elementary School was one of four elementary schools that was more than ready for the experience. Its 600-student school would become the first in the district to use MiEN furniture and design expertise to make over its media center.21st Century Media Center

It was an exciting project because the school really wanted to bring its library into the 21st Century. Kids learn better when they’re comfortable and when things are easily accessible to them. They also wanted to create a comfortable space that “felt like home” for students. Here are five steps they took to make it happen:

  • Start from the ground floor. They selected welcoming, calming colors and installed flexible furniture that can be moved around, changed, and adapted to the activities in the space at any given time. The school partnered with Emerald Business Supply to develop the original sketches for the new space while our design team here at MiEN provided excellent support and direction to bring the sketches to life. They gutted the whole library and then came up with a final design that included everything from wall paint color to flooring to lighting.


  • Know your student body. The school library and media specialist was a former special ed teacher who wanted to focus on creating a very open and accessible space that everyone could enjoy and benefit from. She wanted to be able to move furniture around to accommodate those students using assistive devices, for instance, and for kids with attention difficulties to be able to relax on more comfortable furniture.


  • Help students be independent. Their new media center is organized for easy navigation. This promotes independence among students of all ages. The students can do a lot for themselves in the media center, which is really a perfect addition to their school.


  • Put stuff within reach. They wanted to switch up the original library’s check-in procedures and position the books in a more logical manner. This gave them the opportunity to start with a blank slate. For example, they positioned basic picture books near the circulation desk, knowing that younger students would need the most help selecting and checking out their books. Sometimes the media specialist needs to be in two places at once, so she wanted to make sure the two places were close together.


  • Put comfort first. Their “cozy corner” is nearly everyone’s favorite part of the space. There’s a tower of little round cushions and the kids pick up their soft cushions and go to the cozy corner for read-alouds. They can sit on the cushions, or they can lay on them—whatever makes them comfortable, as long as they’re doing it appropriately.


To schools that are taking on a project similar to Osage Elementary School, their best piece of advice is to not think about the way things are set up in your current library. Instead, think first about how they could ideally be positioned, and then plan out your new space around that new vision.

Miranda Klemp Headshot


Miranda Klemp is an Interior Designer who has been with MiEN Environments since 2020. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Architecture from Lawrence Technological University and has over 5 years of experience in commercial design. She designs with a focus on the end user by including a variety of products that offer flexibility and engagement. Miranda believes a space directly impacts the people using it and strives to make spaces that people are excited to be in.