Design preferences of media specialists for elementary school media centers in the state of georgia
Hlavaty, Kathleen Smith
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The elementary media center can be a vital part of an elementary school instructional program and play a large part in the functionality and the effectiveness of the school. This study examined key design elements of an elementary media center in order to determine a design preference for each element. The elements selected were determined through a review of related literature. Eight categories were addressed in the survey of Georgia elementary school media specialists. The categories included lighting/windows, color, flooring, HVAC, space, furnishings, technological support, and miscellaneous items. This information was then incorporated in a survey of current Georgia elementary school media specialists. The survey was completed by 75 media specialists attending the Georgia Conference of Media Organizations in 2001. A frequency analysis was completed on each item and the responses ranked from absolutely vital to not desirable. Elements that were perceived as important or absolutely vital to the design of an elementary media center were windows, natural lighting, well located light switches, upholstery colors that disguise heavy use, carpeting, low humidity level, a separate air conditioning system, separate areas designated by usage, ample power outlets, and workstations with power/data ports. Items perceived as not important included floor coverings other than carpet, windows that reach to the floor, brightly colored accent walls, and computer labs located within media centers. Specific information regarding shelving, tables, chairs, and an ideal layout was included in the study. Based upon the results of the analysis, recommendations were presented for enhancing the current method of planning and developing elementary school media centers in the state of Georgia. It was recommended that the state of Georgia rewrite the current facility guidelines, that the professional judgment of elementary media specialists’ preferences be considered when establishing guidelines, that communitybased school media centers be studied for their specific design needs, and that a similar study be conducted concentrating on the middle school and high school level.