What does the library of the future look like?
Well, if Waterford High School’s new media center is a guide, it’s a wireless environment with work stations that can be used for a variety of purposes. And while laptops and power pads are becoming more and more in, the one thing you’ll see fewer and fewer of in the library is at once its very definition: books.
“The amount of books being used is going down, while computer technology is taking its place,” Emily Czarnecki of JCJ Architecture said. “And we tried to design for what’s now, but also what’s five years from now.”
The new library, part of the $68 million renovation project and what Superintendent Jerome Belair calls “the hub of the school,” will have a main room spanning 5,000 square feet, with several smaller rooms branching off of it. Not only will it be a place for students, but also the community, Belair said.
“We tried to make this as user-friendly to the community as possible,” he said. “And it really fosters students working together in small, collaborative groups.”
JCJ took a look at the media center, and after touring another high school and going to a furniture outlet with Belair and Principal Don Macrino, changed the floor plan and the overall concept of the design. The idea was to have a modern, university-like media center, Belair said.
So What’s In It?
One of the conference rooms in the media center will be directly adjacent to the entrance doors of the school. The door will have a keypad so students can’t use it, but community groups can use it after school hours for meetings.
That conference room will have a glass wall looking into the central library. Glass walls are used in several areas of the media center to increase visibility throughout the entire room.
The main entrance of the media center will bring students into a 5,000 square foot space filled with a variety of different work stations. JCJ was able to put a larger variety of furniture in the room by eliminating the amount of bookcases, as the library will now hold 15,000 works instead of its originally planned 22,000.
“We have mainly fiction ... novels,” Czarnecki said. “Not a huge need for nonfiction anymore, as most people use the Internet for reference.”
There will be semicircle tables to foster discussion, individual work stations and cylinder “mushroom” stool-like chairs to create a “campfire firepit” feel. There will even be a coffee counter, with high tabletops to create a Starbucks-type feel, Czarnecki said.
“I like the theory of making it like a café,” Building Committee Chairman Alan Wilensky said.
Branching off the main room are three other rooms. Two are conference rooms, one big enough for one 12-chair table, the second for two 12-chair tables and an eight-chair table. Both conference rooms have glass walls as well that look into the main media center.
The third room will have semi-oval tables surrounded by six chairs that face a large monitor. Up to six people sitting at the chairs will be able to plug their laptop into the monitor, and then the six or less can alternate which screen will be displayed on the monitor, for the rest to see.
Most of the furniture is on wheels and can be moved around to fill a need, Czarnecki said.
Building committee members questioned how many outlets were being put in, as the furniture cannot be moved if there is no outlet. There will be many outlets, including ceiling outlets, but in a few years power will be wireless as well, Greg Smolley of JCJ said.
Power pads, which are basically wireless chargers, are starting to come onto the market and it's likely they will soon be common, Smolley said. Additionally, while a laptop’s charge may last two hours today, it could last five hours in a few years, Czarnecki said.
The design of the media center has changed although the cost difference was be minimal, just the price of one additional door, Smolley said.
After the meeting, both Wilensky and Buildings and Grounds Director Jay Miner said that while pricing of the furniture has yet to be done, they can make it work to stay under budget.