Long gone are the days of shuffling through drawer after drawer of card catalogs and getting eyestrain from staring too long at a microfiche machine. The role of a school library has changed significantly, and designers are playing a big part in keeping them relevant and useful in the digital age.
Revitalization of libraries is a national trend and a priority in Jefferson County as library use changes with technological advances, observes Dave Reese, Principal in Charge and President of TurnerBatson whose firm transformed a traditional library into a cutting-edge media center for the Adamsville Elementary School in western Jefferson County. The project won the “Best of Small Institutional” category in the 2021 IIDA award presented by the International Interior Design Association’s Alabama Chapter. Two additional TurnerBatson projects also won in two other categories this year.
“Redesigning and reinvigorating library spaces allow them to be used for collaborative and group learning,” Reese says. “The Adamsville space was designed to cultivate the students’ imagination with bright colors, compelling graphics and defined nooks for independent study or group interaction.”
Libraries of the past are being transformed into media centers that offer not only books but all technology has to offer. The new Adamsville Elementary School Media Center features multiple function learning zones and is designed to adapt to future advances in technology. Interactive 3D models were produced to visualize the space using Revit, Sketchup and Enscape.
The media center has more organization in its layout than the previous library, explains project architect Wil Bradford. There are specific spaces that enable students to have the privacy to read (to “think”) or the ability to present (to “show and tell”). Other notable changes include the materials used which are more equipped to help with the acoustics of the space, adds Bradford, and are more durable compared to the previous setup.
Quality of lighting was a was a challenge the design team encountered in the beginning, says Bradford. “Our solution was to enhance the artificial light as well as allow the natural light to better enter the space while maintaining the privacy of the media center.”
TurnerBatson Interior Designer Mary-Claire Bennett Brown says the challenge in designing the 4,800- square-foot space was to nurture childrens’ boundless imagination and encourage them to engage with all types of literature and learning tools.
“Our firm was tasked to create a state-of-the-art media center for Adamsville Elementary School that brought new life to an existing space within the school,” she says. “Inspired by mantra of ‘think, show, and tell,’ the newly updated media center features ample natural light, cozy reading and group spaces, and a dedicated computer area for instruction.”
Young students still love to touch and feel books, she notes, but this combination resolves the varied needs of the learning environment within this multi-use space. The palettes of purple and blue colors showcase a harmonious look while creating designations for each space. The reading tower showcases a nighttime galaxy with a hand-drawn lightbulb, figuratively emulating “brainstorming,” which is part of creating an “idea.” The “Share” space features tiered seating encouraging group-led classes. Finally, the “Idea” section, including a lightbulb and wall mounted countertop, allows each student to have a seat and research their “idea” for class.
*Article Written by Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of TurnerBatson Architects