School Business Affairs June 2019 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | JUNE 2019 33 A Vision of the Next-Generation Library/Media Center By Todd Bushmaker, AIA, NFPA, CDT, LEED AP The role of the library has changed over the past decade—its vision and structure should change as well. facilities W hen you think about a library, what do you envi- sion? A large room with shelves upon shelves of books, a few round tables with chairs, and a librarian tasked with keeping it quiet? The role of a school library has changed substantially over the past decade for several reasons, including changing instructional paradigms, an emphasis on collaborative learning and makerspaces, increased com- munity use of school facilities, and the pro- liferation of e-books and other technology. The Darlington Community School District in Darlington, Wisconsin, is an example of a district with a new vision for its library. While working with a school facilities design and construction company on a master plan to improve the Darlington High School/Middle School/Elementary School campus, district leaders, school staff members, and community members identi- fied the library/media/technology center as one of the critical components within the master plan. After analyzing district data, interviewing staff members and faculty, and reaching out to the community, the construction com- pany designed a remodeled and repositioned library/media center that could provide flex- ible and collaborative space for students in a 21st-century learning environment. Minimum Expense, Major Impact Fortunately, in Darlington’s case, it was pos- sible to control costs and produce a project that would have a major impact on stu- dents and the district. When completed, the renewed library became both a community hub and a marketing point for the district. What started as a dark, uninspiring, old- school institutional room was transformed into a bright, lively, multifocal, multipurpose space that promotes student, staff, and com- munity engagement. Districts with a vision for transforming Students in Wisconsin’s Darlington Community School District enjoy the new library/media center’s flexible furniture and work stations. COURTESY OF HOFFMAN PLANNING, DESIGN, AND CONSTRUCTION