Modernizing the media center means modernizing education
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To accommodate the progress of modern education, the media center is undergoing a renovation reflecting the needs of the 21st century learner. For the past two months, continual drilling and knocking has permeated through Fremd’s walls and floors, and although some have complained about the noise, the modernization of a school’s services is integral to the improvement of education.
All District 211 media centers are being remodeled, with Schaumburg, Conant, and Palatine High Schools having completed their libraries already. The district’s mission to promote a supportive environment for students to collaborate and study is evident in the new designs.
Fremd’s media center has not been remodeled since the 1960s, and the main center room used to be the whole library itself. The tutoring center and tech center were add-ons, and consequently, their spaces were never utilized or integrated properly. The sounds from those rooms have always bled into the main library, so the renovation includes adding doors to make them more private and quiet.
Fremd’s media center is not structurally wired for outlets, which is a growing problem as students all have iPads with the 1:1 program. The modernization of the library also includes a variety of seating and furniture, as part of the aim to create a more open layout. This openness was suggested to further fit the needs of the different events held in the media center, such as banquets or booster meetings. It will also function as a small extension of the cafeteria, making it, as Fremd librarian Toni DiModica calls it, a “one-stop shop.”
DiModica also addressed students’ apprehension about changing the library that we have gotten used to.
“When I started planning the remodel, I surveyed many of the kids that were in the library. Almost every student said, ‘Don’t change the library.’ They said that they liked being surrounded by the books, the tall ceilings, the wood furniture, and the overall comfort,” DiModica said. “Those things will still be incorporated into the look, but everything will be more modern and spread out so that students can have more choices of seating to fit individual or group work.”
The media center must also evolve to fit the needs of a generation of students on iPads, who are more likely to check out books over the e-book system, OverDrive, than in person. At Fremd, 503 e-books were checked out in January 2016. 904 e-books were checked out in January of this year, an 180% increase in just one year. Thanks to rapidly improving technology, the only choice schools have is to remodel their services to reflect their students’ ways of learning.
However, this renovation means that the media center is out of commission for nine months, meaning students, since the end of first semester, have only had access to “Library Lite,” a former computer lab turned mini-library with a few tables and a shelf of books available. The tutoring and tech centers have moved to different classrooms, and all other books previously held in the media center are in storage. There was no way to just complete the project over the summer, as it takes a whole school year to renovate. Fremd’s goal is to complete it by the beginning of the school year next year, and if not by then, the first month of the new year.
Assistant principal Eric Dolen thinks that although students may lose the media center during the construction period, the new version will be worth the wait.
“Obviously people would rather have a place to go and have something remodeled and new and not have to go through the pain of construction, but I think that once people see the end result, they’ll see that the inconvenience was worth it,” Dolen said.