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Exploring alternative study spots with Brenna

Hi! My name is Brenna. I’m a junior from Conway Springs, Kan., majoring in English. I was hired as a communications student employee for K-State Libraries about two weeks before Hale caught on fire, and as someone who basically lived in the library last semester, I was pretty upset when I heard what had happened, especially when I realized the extent of the damage. 

Selfie of the author.
This is me, looking a little sleep-deprived at work.

The K-State Student Union has stepped up in amazing ways, especially by hosting Library Help and IT Help desks. Everyone knows about it as a study spot, though. I decided to take a mini-tour to see what other study locations around campus are my favorite! Here are a few out-of-the-way areas you might not know about. 

I used the “Hale recovery” tab on the K-State interactive map to find locations that would be good on-campus study spots. The map itself was incredibly helpful since it has the hours listed as well as the room numbers or floors.

My first stop was Calvin Hall’s third floor, which is advertised on the map as a location with group study space, printing capabilities and a computer lab. The group study spot was extremely comfortable with rows of cushioned chairs and a pretty relaxed atmosphere.

The very nice grad student who I talked to said that it’s typically pretty empty, except for right before class starts. 

There is also a charging station with both Android and iPhone compatible cords for those days when you find yourself without a charger. You can also find a  computer lab with a printer in Room 318.

A charging station on a black metal post with adapters hanging from it.
Charging station with cords for Androids and iPhones in Calvin Hall.
A man in a baseball cap holding a laptop sits on a couch.
Friendly Calvin Hall grad student.

Eisenhower Hall 121 was the next place I visited. This room is a designated quiet room, and it had a lot of outlets surrounding the desks, which is always a plus. There was no one there at all, and it was really easy to find.

There is a chalkboard there if that helps you study. Unfortunately, there is no printing in Eisenhower for students, so plan accordingly!

Several white plastic tables and aqua chairs sit in front of a large, sunny bank of windows.
Tables in Eisenhower 121, a quiet study room.

The College of Business Building is home to some amazing study spaces. Rooms are available for both quiet study and group study. Even the open study spaces on the first, second and third floors were relatively quiet.

The very friendly student I talked to said that the areas are generally heavily trafficked and that it can be difficult to grab a study room.

However, there were so many different seating options and arrangements outside of study rooms. Nearly all of the chairs I saw also had desks near them. Printers are available, and they are located near the first, second and third floor elevators and in the back of the computer lab located in Room 3121.

A student with short dark hair sits in an armchair holding a black laptop in front of a light purple wall.
Seating options in the College of Business Building.
A student with long brown hair and glasses smiles at the camera as she sits in an office chair with her feet propped up on an armchair and holds her laptop.
Study room in the College of Business Building. 
More than two dozen double computer monitors line long wooden tables in a room occupied by a single student.
The computer lab in the College of Business Building, Room 3121.

Next up, Justin Hall! Justin Hall has a quiet study room (Room 301) on the third floor and group study locations on the first floor in an open area.

A computer and large printer sit under a sign that says "Louis S. and Rachel C. Hodgson Student Collaborative Area."
The printer in Justin Hall, which is located by the group study area.

Right by the entrance to Justin, there are tables with chairs for groups, and farther back in the first floor is another group of comfortable chairs—these do not have desks, but it was quite a bit quieter than the area by the entrance. Printers are available both in the quiet study room and in the group study location to the left of the main entrance.

Brenna sits in an armchair against the left wall; nearby, two tables are surrounded by a variety of office chairs.
Quiet study in 301 Justin.

Dickens Hall has 24/7 printing available! It is a computer lab, so it has a lot of computers and a printer available. They’re located in Room 1, which is in the basement. You can access it through the back entrance on the north side of the building or the wheelchair accessible entrance throughout the night.

A dozen monitors sit on three tables lined against a wall.
Rows of computers in the basement of Dickens Hall lab.
Three students with short hair hold notebooks and pens as they look at a computer monitor together.
The computer lab in Dickens Hall. 
Wheelchair accessible entrance to the computer lab in Dickens Hall.

The Vet Med Library is located on the north side of campus in Trotter Hall, very close to the K-State Rec. Its amazing booths might just be worth the trek. It’s open 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and has public computers, scanners and a printer.

The printer does cost a small amount because it doesn’t accept CatCash. There is an open group study area as well as a room specifically for quiet study, Room 422.

It is located on the fourth floor of Trotter Hall and is to your right when you get off the elevators. The chairs are comfy, and there is a variety of seating arrangements, including those booths—they’re now my favorite spot because they have outlets on the table and are incredibly comfortable.

Entrance to the Vet Med Library on the fourth floor.
A curved help desk at the left is adjacent to a study area with tables and office chairs, as well a variety of soft seating.
Group seating in the Vet Med Library.
Wooden tables and gray booths with an aqua pattern line one wall of the Vet Med Library. A student at a laptop works in the distance.
Booths in the Vet Med Library.

I found a ton of study spots that I did not know existed before this year, and some of them I really loved. If you’re like me, you’re missing Hale Library, but there are great spots out there. Go find your new favorite spot—and let us know about it!

Recovery momentum and magical spaces

We have only shared a small percentage of the thousands of photos that have been taken of Hale Library since May 22. This week we wanted to share a few more that are meaningful to us. Some are powerful illustrations of the reality of the devastation inside the building; others show how far we’ve come in the recovery process.

We’ve also included a few that are laden with memories and our hope for the future of Hale Library.

Here’s looking at you, Hale: A drone’s eye view of the building taken after the fire gives a sense of the phases of construction over the years. Historic Farrell Library (1927) is at the upper left. The white square inside the red circle is a temporary roof that covers areas damaged in the fire. June 21, 2018. 

There’s one aspect of the recovery that’s hard to get across in these blog posts: It’s dark in there! We share photos that are as well-lit as possible, but in those instances, the light source isn’t Hale Library’s lights; they’re either natural light from the windows or temporary lighting.

An alcove on the first floor, south side of Hale Library. June 11, 2018. 

The electrical infrastructure was seriously compromised, so the building is operating off of temporary construction power supplied by portable units rather than “house power.” As soon as you walk away from a space that’s lit up with construction lights … you’re in the dark. More than once the power has gone out on the workers removing the books from the stacks.

Now imagine that you’re working in here, and those light bulbs go out. August 13, 2018. 

Fortunately, the building is nearly empty now. We’ve come a long way in the last sixteen weeks. The majority of the collection has been packed out, the duct work is completely clean, and the process of removing soot from all other hard surfaces is nearly complete.

Our services have been successfully relocated, too.

The reserves collection surrounded by water pooling on the carpet. May 24, 2018. 

The reserves collection, which includes a lot of textbooks, was located behind Library Help on the second floor. Now students can access reserves at branch libraries and the new Library Help Desk at the K-State Student Union.

IT computers sit in puddles of water in a cubicle on Hale Library’s second floor directly below the Great Room. May 24, 2018. 

These days, the IT Help Desk is up and running in the Cat’s Pause Lounge on the top floor of K-State Student Union.

And those two sodden and sad locations in the photos above? They’re awaiting their next act!

The second floor office area is clean and empty; at rear of photo, the reserves shelving is wrapped in plastic. September 5, 2018. 
Room 212, former home of IT Services, is a blank canvas. August 10, 2018. 

The Harry Potter Room.

If you’ve been on campus since the first Potter film came out in 2001, you probably know what we’re talking about. The Great Room has inspired comparisons to the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies for nearly two decades. More than one student has said that just being there made them feel smarter and more focused.

Post-fire, it looked as if the Harry Potter Room had a brush with some dark magic.

Charred building material hangs out of a hole in the Great Room ceiling.
A hole in the Great Room ceiling from a wand misfire? Nope, it’s from  fire. July 20, 2018. 
A view of the Great Room taken from above shows a dozen massive, warped wooden tables stand in puddles of water.
Water pooling across the floor, warped tables. May 24, 2018.
A heavy oak acorn finial lies cracked on the floor.
This Hagrid-sized acorn fell from the ceiling. Now, most of the woodwork has been deinstalled (in a much more deliberate and careful manner). It will be refinished prior to reinstallation. August 6, 2018. 

These days, it’s gratifying to see the space wiped clean and buzzing with activity. We’re moving forward, and the team of conservators, architects, construction workers and craftspeople executing the recovery and restoration plan are wizards at what they do.

A worker removed paint from a plaster capital to allow water to evaporate from the walls more quickly. July 20, 2018. 
A worker at left removes paint from a pilaster to speed the drying process. At center, a conservation specialist examines fragile portions of the “Arts” mural. July 20, 2018. 
Belfor workers make their way from the first floor to second. Since this photo was taken, the wooden display cases to the right and left of the second floor entrance have been removed. June 11, 2018. 

Here’s a less-known Potter-themed room for any die-hard fans out there. Room 117 on Hale Library’s ground floor was not a well-trafficked space. It was home to rows and rows of moveable compact shelving.

The bulk of the collection that experienced water damage was located in Room 117. Fortunately, most was deemed salvageable. May 25, 2018. 

Those who took time to uncover the library’s secrets, though, were aware that Room 117 was generally cooler when the rest of the building was hot, warmer when the rest of the building was cold, nearly always quiet and usually had vacant tables next to some enormous banks of windows. No space in the library, save perhaps the Great Room, offered more beautiful natural light.

The shelving is gone and Room 117 stands empty. August 24, 2018. 
Another view of Room 117 facing west toward the English Department Building. August 24, 2018. 

How is all of this Potter-themed?

A few of our student employees dubbed it “The Room of Requirement.” It always had what you needed. We can’t wait to see what need the Room of Requirement—and all of these now-empty spaces—fills in its next life.

Week Fifteen Update: A ton of Jenga fun and other developments

Librarians are pretty obsessive about tracking everything in their collections. It’s all meticulously cataloged, which allows us to identify where each item is at any given point in time, who has it, and when it’s coming back.

Cataloguing pieces of a mural? The oak beams from the Great Room? A 50-pound solid oak acorn finial? That’s a little out of our wheelhouse.

The wooden acorn finials (shown on the cart at right wrapped in a green protective covering) weigh 50 pounds each.

Fortunately, John Canning Company is in charge of disassembling Historic Farrell Library so it can be put back together better than ever. We’re confident that there will be no Humpty Dumpty situations on their watch.

Let’s set the scene: There’s a coupla big ol’ holes in Farrell Library. Charred, scary holes that have been covered by a temporary roof.

Until recently, it was difficult to get up close and personal with the ceiling to photograph the fire damage.

Below that, you have the dance floor. That’s what they call the temporary plywood floor built on top of the metal scaffolding that fills the entire Great Room. We don’t want to keep those holes, so the dance floor gives workers access to the ceiling where they can begin the process of removing the fire debris to replace the ceiling and roof.

Wooden beams that will be preserved are laid out on the “dance floor.” Every piece is labeled so that once the room has been renovated, it will be possible to reassemble the woodwork.

Workers are carefully taking down the woodwork that lends the Great Room much of its historic character. It’s a little like high-stakes Jenga: Removing, labeling and relocating each piece of wood is a delicate process.

In order to keep the ceiling repair process moving forward, workers have to take each piece of wood off of the dance floor. Here you can see the scaffolding that supports the floor. 

When Farrell Library is sporting a new ceiling and roof sans holes, it will be time to reverse-Jenga all of that woodwork. We can’t wait to see it back where it belongs!

The ceiling has been removed already in this portion of the Great Room, and the rest of the beams will follow.

Over in the Richard L. D. & Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, librarians have been going hands-on to pack out the Libraries’ unique research collections and rare materials. This area of the building mainly experienced smoke damage, and we initially hoped the books and other holdings could be cleaned on site. It’s become clear, though, that in order to keep them safe, everything needs to be transported to secure, reliably conditioned space.

“We should have everything out before the end of September,” said Associate Dean of Libraries Mike Haddock. “It’s been a slow process, but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Only a few rooms of special collections materials remain in Hale Library. They’re the last of more than 1.5 million items to leave the building and go into storage where they will be professionally cleaned.

The remaining special collections materials will join the 140,000 boxes that have already been sent to one of the three offsite storage facilities we’ve contracted to keep everything safe. The newest location in our stable of stables is one of Underground Archive & Storage’s facilities, a former limestone mine in Kansas City, Mo.

Underground Archive & Storage has facilities across the region; the one we’re using occupies a series of caves created by limestone mining. Given that Hale Library is a massive limestone construction, we think there’s a metaphor here. We’ll let you know when we figure it out.

Now, it might not have been the first thing on everyone’s mind after the fire, but we had materials on order that arrived over the summer. We were a little busy, and we weren’t able to make those available … until now!

NEW K-State Libraries materials that were destined for Hale Library are being held in Seaton Hall. You can visit Library Help in the Union and ask for the item you want in person; we’ll retrieve it on the spot. Alternately, you can make your request through our website and specify which library help desk you’d like to pick your item up at.

And, as we look to the future, we continue our work with the architects from PGAV. They recently completed “like-for-like drawings”: PGAV determined what the building looked like right before the fire. Now those drawings go to a contractor who assigns what the replacement costs would be if we were to rebuild Hale Library as it was. These are essential steps that have to happen before the various parties involved assign a dollar amount to the total damages. Only after that is completed will we know how much K-State will receive from the insurance companies.

A group of six librarians and architects sit and stand around a table as one of them points to a print out of a floor plan.
While we wait for information about total damages and insurance, staff are working with PGAV to imagine a library for K-State’s future.

Until then, if you ever have questions you’d like us to address in this blog, please comment below or contact us at libcomm@ksu.edu.

And to everyone who has been following along with us on this journey, thank you! Your comments and words of encouragement mean the world to us!

The future of the “We Are the Dream” mural

A full view of the mural, which features symbols of Native American culture, including a bison; images representing black American struggle such as Martin Luther King Jr. speaking on the Washington mall; and leading Hispanic activists such as Cesar Chavez. Stars and stripes from the U.S. flag form the backdrop.

Maybe you’ve never seen it. The “We Are the Dream” mural on the fourth floor of Hale Library is not heavily trafficked, but it’s an important record of the struggle of K-State’s underrepresented students to be seen and heard.

“We Are the Dream,” which was sponsored by the Black Student Union, Movimiento Estudiantil de Chicanos de Aztlan (MEChA, a Hispanic student group), and the Native American Indian Student Body, was painted and dedicated in 1980. At that time, it was a striking focal point in the Minorities Resources/Research Center. In recent years, the space has served as the Academic Learning Center, a daytime study location for student athletes. 

A man stands on a ladder at right with his hand outstretched to work on portraits of a Hispanic family that are featured in the mural.
Harold Carter started the “We are the Dream” painting in May 1980. He was a senior in landscape architecture when the mural was dedicated that fall.

This summer, the “We Are the Dream” mural was damaged in the May 22 fire, along with the rest of the building. In fact, the Academic Learning Center staff, led by Liane Fowler, assistant director of Student Academic Services, was the first to smell the smoke in their space directly in front of the painting.

Their area is located on the opposite side of the wall from the Great Room Murals, so the two works of art have undergone some of the same challenges. Both suffered from significant water damage and soiling, and it is imperative that the the wall between them dries out. The “We Are the Dream” mural had mold trapped behind it: While the images are beautiful, the paint created a barrier that inhibited the moisture from escaping.

An interior scene of the Academic Learning Center with the mural on the wall at left. The carpet, half a dozen round wooden tables, and black office chairs are covered in plaster debris.
The Academic Learning Center was very near the site where the fire started on the roof and suffered extensive water damage. May 24, 2018.

Rachel Gilberti, the chief conservator at John Canning Company, has been working with the damaged mural since June 22, after her company was contacted by Julia Mathias Manglitz, the preservation architect with TreanorHL. 

“The ‘We Are the Dream’ mural is painted on burlap that was incorporated in the original 1927 building construction, so that’s been there for a long time,” Gilberti said. “When they made the mural in the early ’80s, they came in and painted over everything that was existing. So, in reality, that surface was never really prepared for a painting.”

Two women in yellow construction vests sit on metal scaffolding as they remove a section of the mural from the wooden planks behind it that run horizontally across the length of the wall.
Conservationists carefully remove the mural in sections. The squares on the painting are facing paper, which is made of mulberry fibers and helps protect the surface as the painting is handled and moved. August 6, 2018. 

“Another challenge is that we have multiple types of adhesives going on behind the burlap. There’s the original adhesive used when the burlap was installed, and over the years, as the seams started coming apart, they started injecting other adhesives on the seams. There are 15 pieces of burlap, so a lot of the seams have a different type of adhesive, and each type reacts differently.”

Gilberti and her conservation associates have removed each section of burlap from the wall, which will allow air to reach the wall behind the painting and dry it out.

The “We are the Dream” mural has been moved in pieces to another floor in the library and spread on tables so the conservationists can clean them.

Two women wearing white hard hats and yellow construction vests lean over large brown rectangular panels of the murals spread on library tables so they can carefully remove debris.
After deinstallation, the painting was laid out face-down on tables in the library so conservationists Grace Moran and Juliana Roy could clean the burlap on the reverse side. August 10, 2018. 

However, the Libraries administration’s hope that the mural won’t remain in pieces. It will be safely stored by John Canning Company in a climate-controlled space until it can be reinstalled in a clean, renovated Hale Library. 

“They are salvageable,” Gilberti said. “Every piece of art is salvageable. It’s not one of those things. Conservators are here for exactly that reason, to salvage the artwork and preserve what the original artist’s intent is. So they will be saved.”

When asked about the “We Are the Dream” mural, Dean of Libraries Lori Goetsch noted that it’s an important part of K-State’s cultural history.

“We love having it as part of Hale Library and look forward to its restoration,” she said. “The fact that this mural celebrates diversity and progress at K-State makes it an important piece of work to be treated with respect and preserved as well as it can be.”

A woman sits on yellow scaffolding several feet off of the ground in front of a section of the mural featuring large red and white stripes and portraits of an Hispanic man, woman, and infant.
August 6, 2018. 

The mural has been an important symbol to many K-Staters over the years. In May 1993, students gathered around the mural to mourn the death of Hispanic activist and leader Cesar Chavez, who is pictured in the painting.

The Kansas State Collegian reported that members of HALO, (Hispanic American Leadership Organization), sang, listened to music and talked about Chavez’s impact on their lives in front of the “We Are the Dream” mural.

Elsa Diaz, the president of HALO at that time, said the mural is significant to minorities on campus because it is the only thing on campus that can give them a sense of belonging. “The mural means a lot to a number of people,” Diaz said. “It is important to people who want to come and worship their heroes.”

A panoramic shot of the room without the mural: Wooden planks run lengthwise along the top two-thirds of the wall while the bottom third is exposed stone.
The fourth floor space after the “We Are the Dream” mural was deinstalled. August 21, 2018.

 

Saving the Great Room murals

The Great Room murals, painted in 1934 by David Hicks Overmyer, are the most iconic works of art on the K-State campus

During the fire, some of the most serious damage occurred in the Great Room ceiling immediately above the murals. Water from both the sprinkler system and from the firefighting efforts on the roof saturated the wall and dripped over the surface of the paintings. Then, in the following days, the plaster and masonry wall behind the mural absorbed a large amount of water that was still flowing through the building.

Hale Library Great Room – 07/20/2018 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Early June

Since early June, the future of the Great Room and its murals have been in the hands of Julia Mathias Manglitz, preservation architect with TreanorHL.

Manglitz examined the murals post-fire. At that time, she worked from a lift to document soiling and streaking on the paintings that resulted from sap running from wood trim directly above. The murals were also stained by dirty water that came from the attic. Additionally, Manglitz discovered areas where paint was cracking and areas that were already exhibiting very small areas of paint loss.

A woman with one hand resting on red metal scaffolding wears a white construction hat and a yellow safety vest. She stands in the foreground of the Great Room while workers in the background examine the murals on the walls.
Manglitz, a preservation architect with two decades of experience, majored in aeronautical engineering in undergrad. “My bosses at TreanorHL like to joke with people: ‘And this is Julia, our resident rocket scientist.’” July 20, 2018. 

When public information officer Darchelle Martin spoke with Manglitz in late July, Manglitz explained that the murals are painted directly on plaster that is attached directly to the masonry walls. In other words, the paint needs to adhere to the plaster, and the plaster needs to adhere to the walls.

“If we lose the plaster, we’ve lost the paintings as well,” Manglitz said. “So I inspected the murals as closely as I could by doing what’s called ‘sounding.’ When we work with materials like plaster and stone, we tap on them with a rubber mallet, and depending on what sound comes back to us, we can tell if something is well-bonded. Hollow sounding plaster is an indication that layers of plaster are starting to delaminate from each other or from the masonry. On my initial evaluation, even though I wasn’t seeing plaster coming away from the walls except in small areas, what I found were large areas that sounded hollow.”

A line drawing of cross sections of the library building indicates where the fire occurred on the roof, the directions from which water entered the building, and how water flow impacted the murals.
“That hollow area was worse once I got near and below the fourth floor line,” she said. “The Great Room is a two-story space, and the fourth floor meets on the back side of this wall. So the water that hit the fourth floor was then funneled back into the plaster and masonry. The entire thickness got wet; it’s not just where it ran down the face of the wall.” 

Late June

Between concerns for paint loss and the potential for plaster loss, Manglitz decided to contact a conservation contractor as quickly as possible. Based on her experience working with John Canning Company on the extensive renovation and restoration of the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, she recommended they be brought onto the project.

Rachel Gilberti, chief conservator at John Canning, has been working in Hale Library since June 22.

Once Gilberti joined the project, more intensive mapping of the mural damage began. By this time, scaffolding had been erected so they could finally make a thorough, up-close examination. They discovered small areas of plaster deformation where it was starting to delaminate from the wall. Other areas of the paint were marked by a fine pattern of dense cracking called craquelure.

At right, a woman wearing a white hard hat scans the surface of a mural with a hand-held black light device.
A black light allows Gilberti to see damage not visible under normal lighting conditions. July 20, 2018. 

“Water escapes through the cracks, which is a good thing, but sometimes the paint can come off, too,” Manglitz said.

Gilberti also noted that it’s important that the wall needs to dry at a stable rate. “If it starts to dry too quickly, the layers begin to separate from one another,” she said. “It’s also important to have the wall dry from both sides and meet in the middle. If it dries just from the back, all of the salts in the stone get pulled into the front and the material on the surface of the stone will come out.”

It could be a long time before the walls are thoroughly dry.

“The walls are fourteen inches thick, and the general rule of thumb for drying mass masonry is one inch per month,” Manglitz said. “That said, it doesn’t have to be perfectly dry before we start the conservation process to visually restore the appearance, but we needed to get it to the point where we feel like it’s safe.”

A woman with one hand resting on red metal scaffolding wears a white construction hat and a yellow safety vest. She stands in the foreground of the Great Room while workers in the background examine the murals on the walls.
We work with sculpture, murals, paintings, anything that’s in the architectural art realm all over the United States. I’ve been doing this almost 14 years in Europe and the United States. It’s a lot of travel, but you go where the art is, and it’s a great pleasure to see all of this beauty that’s spread throughout the country.

Late July

When the wall started to dry, additional small areas of paint began to flake off. Gilberti and her team began a triage campaign to repair small areas of damage and prevent others from worsening.

They used syringes to insert thermoplastic adhesive where they found paint cracking and peeling. Once the adhesive seeped in, they placed a clear piece of mylar over it and heated it with a small iron to get it to set. The process helped them keep the paint layer in place and on the wall.

In the foreground at right, a woman wearing a white hard hat and yellow safety vest applies a white substance onto the wall at left, while in the background, another woman observes the process.
Gilberti oversees conservation specialist Grace Moran administering the thermoplastic adhesive. July 20, 2018. 

As they monitored the drying-out process and addressed the paint delamination, they noted that different colors of paint reacted differently.

“Each color, each pigment in itself has unique traits,” Gilberti said. “Some pigments have less binding in them. All the reds in general are more sensitive pigments, so they react differently, especially to water. Greens are also very sensitive. White is a very stable pigment, so paints mixed with white did very well. The ones that don’t have that extra binding power are what we tried to stop from flaking with the thermoplastic adhesive.”

August

Since the beginning of their efforts to preserve the murals, Manglitz and her team have been collecting data regarding how wet the walls are. Initially, they could only take measurements at the surface, but since then, they’ve inserted probes seven inches or eight inches into the masonry to determine the moisture levels inside the walls.

In a detail from the art deco style "Arts" mural, an actor in flowing maroon robes extends one arm while the other hand is wrapped around his torso in a dramatic gesture.
Metered moisture readings indicate that the surface of the art mural is around 30%, but the in-wall moisture content at the floor level is at 90%, which is very wet for masonry. “This is the most fragile mural, the one we’re most concerned about,” Manglitz said. “We can’t remove the varnish until we’re more confident that it’s stable.” July 20, 2018. 

“Once we determined that the easternmost mural, Industry, was dry and stable enough, we were able to do a surface cleaning to remove the drips from the wood trim above without having paint actively flake off,” Gilberti said. “After that we began removing the varnish coating.”

The protective varnish was applied the last time the murals were cleaned and restored in 2011. Stripping that layer will increase the breathability of the wall.

As the process of stabilizing, drying, cleaning and stripping the murals of varnish continues, Manglitz and her team have several important questions to weigh regarding next steps.

Close-up of the streaking on the surface of the "Arts" Great Room mural which features a female violinist with shoulder-length brown hair.
Detail of the Arts mural. July 20, 2018.

“We need to decide when it’s appropriate to do the conservation work on the murals given amount of repair that has to be completed in the rest of the space and above this space,” she said. “Roof repairs come with the risk of water infiltration, so we’ll be asking ourselves, ‘What can we do to protect the murals? When do we think it’s appropriate to move forward with conservation? What should the sequence be?’”

Even though those questions haven’t been fully answered yet, Gilberti is confident that they will find a way forward to ensure the future of the Great Room murals.

“Every piece of art is salvageable,” she said. “Conservators are here for exactly that reason, to salvage the artwork and preserve what the original artist’s intent is. It’s not one of those situations where they’re going to disappear: They will be saved. We’ve just got to assess as we go. The murals will have damage, but we are here to mitigate that.”

 

But what about the Great Room?

Perhaps the most-frequently asked question we’ve received since the fire is “Will the Great Room be okay?”

The answer is a complicated yes.

Charred insulation hangs from a hole in the ceiling between two large oak beams.
The fire came through the ceiling in two locations on the south side of the Great Room.

Historic Farrell Library, the original 1927 library building, sustained significant damage, and it has been a long and difficult process to determine the next steps for preserving the structure.

The fire started in the roof just south of the Great Room, and it spread quickly, so it was difficult to isolate and extinguish. Because the room was at the center of the firefighting efforts, it took on a significant amount of water from both the firefighting and the sprinkler system. Since the building materials in Farrell—plaster, limestone, wood—are all highly porous, they absorbed a lot of water.

TreanorHL, an architecture firm with strengths in historic preservation, and John Canning Studios, a conservation/preservation studio, have subcontracted with Belfor Property Restoration, our emergency recovery team. The two organizations are assessing the damage and executing the subsequent recovery processes to aid in returning the space to its original state.

Some metal scaffolding sits on the elevated plywood floor directly under the Great Room's ceiling and wooden beams.
The Great Room is filled with scaffolding that supports a plywood floor. From this height, crews can reach the ceiling to assess the extensive smoke, water and mold damage.

Connecticut-based John Canning Studios has worked across the country on projects such as the White House and the US Treasury Building. In Topeka, they installed plaster beams and capitals in the Kansas Statehouse that were part of the original plans but never executed. They also completed extensive plaster repairs in 100 spaces throughout the capitol.

On July 20, Darchelle Martin, public information officer, spoke with Dave Gough, John Canning Studios’ historic preservation manager.

A man in a hardhat and yellow construction vest leans against red metal scaffolding in the Great Room.
Dave Gough, John Canning Studios’ historic preservation manager.

Gough, who has been with Canning for more than 10 years, arrived in Manhattan on July 5 to assess the damage. Since then, their top priority has been drying the space, but the process must happen slowly in order to prevent additional damage.

Currently, they’re working on removal of architectural paint. Gough said that paint acts as a barrier that keeps moisture from evaporating, so eliminating the paint from the walls, columns, and capitals (the ornamental plaster at the top of the columns), will help the walls dry more quickly.

He also explained that a lot of plaster delamination has occurred throughout the space: The top, protective layers of plaster were compromised by the water, and the exposed surface is much more porous, which increases the ability of the wall to breathe and dry. The loss, while unfortunate, is repairable.

“Right now we are in defensive mode, especially regarding the murals,” Gough said. “We’re trying to stop any more damage from occurring.”

A man in a white hardhat and yellow construction vest faces a wood beam and examines it with a flashlight.
Gough examines a section of oak woodwork on the Great Room ceiling.

Once the drying process is further along, the focus will shift to preserving the space and restoring it as much as possible to its original state. The paint colors, the light fixtures and all other components of the room will be examined in historic photos and analyzed through scientific methods, too, so they can determine what it looked like in its very earliest days. The option to restore the room to a more historically accurate appearance is being explored.

“We will take paint samples from the painted surfaces and make an analysis under a microscope,” Gough said. “We will find out what the original historic colors were, in order to learn what the original architect’s design intent was. There’s a lot of science involved in what we do.”

 In a vintage black-and-white photo of the Great Room, students study at large wooden tables. The building's heavy wooden ceiling beams, ornate light fixtures, and leaded glass windows are visible.
The Great Room, shown here in the late 1930s, used to feature ornate light fixtures. They were removed several decades later.

Plaster and paint are just two of the materials that will be preserved. The team has a complex system in place to make sure all of the oak woodwork in the room is restored.

“We’re removing all the wood in pieces,” Gough said. “We catalog it, we’ll clean the backside of it and get rid of any biological growth, such as mold and mildew. Then we’re going to strip the front of it, preserve it. Finally, the wood will all be stored until the rest of the space has been repaired and it can be refinished and reinstalled.”

Gough said that the bookshelves and bookcases in the room are all oak, too, but they’ve determined that not all of the material is original to the room. Only the portions that are original will be salvaged and receive the same treatment as the oak beams and other ornate woodwork.

Hale Library Great Room – 07/20/2018 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

“It’s going to be a time intensive job,” Gough said. “There is a lot involved in keeping it organized and keeping the pieces together. It’s a process of reverse engineering, taking it apart piece by piece, preserving it, and making sure it all goes back together in the same place. It’s going to be quite a feat.”

The timeline is equally complicated.

“We don’t know yet when it can go back up,” he said. “It depends on a lot of circumstances, like how dry the building is and how quickly the roof and ceiling can be rebuilt. They’ll also put in a fireproof ceiling and venting. Once all that construction is done, we’ll hope to be back on site and start reinstallation.”

A close-up view of an acorn the size of a volleyball that's carved out of oak and affixed to one of the ceiling beams in the Great Room.
Decorative elements of the Great Room, including carved wooden features like this acorn, will be preserved.

In our next post, we’ll tackle another big question: “What will happen to the Great Room murals?”

Hale Library and IT services continue availability for upcoming school year

Obviously, we’ve been thinking about the Hale Library fire all summer. Like, constantly.

We recognize, though, that some K-Staters spent the last three months in far-flung locales, thinking about internships, summer jobs, beach vacations … *sigh*

But pretty soon, a lot of folks will return to campus and wonder how life will change without Hale. While tons of general information is available on the Hale Library Recovery Plan website, we’d like to address some specific questions here.

For example, where will you go if you need help with Canvas? What will you do if you need to borrow a laptop or projector? The IT Help Desk and equipment checkout, both formerly on Hale’s second floor, are now in the K-State Union.

The IT Help Desk is now on the second floor Cat’s Pause Lounge. 

And what if you need access to Adobe Creative Cloud, iMovie or Auto CAD? Why, you’ll head to the NEW Media Development Center, of course! They’re opening in Seaton Hall 1 on August 20.

Mourning the loss of your favorite table in Hale Library? We’re certain you’ll find a new home base in one of our many alternate study locations, like the Math/Physics Library.

A smiling library employee stands next to the large purple Library sign at the entrance to the Math/Physics Library. The Math/Physics Library in Cardwell Hall is one of several branch libraries on campus.

Basically, what we’re saying is that services and amenities formerly available in Hale Library have been relocated.

For a directory of all of the important spots, just visit the K-State campus map. You’ll see where you can

  • Print
  • Get help from a librarian
  • Save money by borrowing textbooks on reserve
  • Study with classmates
  • Find a peaceful location to escape your classmates

It’s all there, listed right under “Hale Recovery.”

(And speaking of printing: Students now get $20 of free printing per semester. That’s twice as much as in previous years!)

Now, while all of our online library resources are available, most of the 1.5 million Hale Library books and other physical materials will not be available during the 2018-19 academic year.

What to do? Use interlibrary loan! Our free interlibrary loan service gets the the books and articles you need by borrowing them for you on your behalf from other libraries.

A smiling student takes a book from a seated librarian at a Library Help desk in the Student Union.
Once your interlibrary loan arrives, you can pick it up at Library Help in the Union or one of our branch library locations. Need a journal article or just one chapter in a book? You’ll receive an email when a scanned, digital version is ready for you to download! 

Unfortunately, we usually aren’t able to provide textbooks through interlibrary loan, but be sure to check whether we have your textbook on reserve at Library Help in the Union. Borrow it for a short period, scan what you need, save money, repeat!

If you need help looking for that textbook or have any questions we haven’t addressed, contact us through Ask a Librarian. We are still here to help you! Your K-State Libraries are so much more than buildings. We’re #Family!

Nearly 100 employees wearing purple Hale Library t-shirts gather for a group photo on the grass in front of the Hale Library building.
More than 100 K-State Libraries and IT Services employees have been relocated across campus since May, but we’re still here to help you!

 

Book Report: Wet materials and new warehouses

As soon as K-State Libraries and Belfor Property Restoration employees were allowed back in Hale Library after the fire, we removed wet books as quickly as possible.

Several weeks ago, we wrote about that process: books were packed out of the building and stored in freezers on campus until they could be shipped in refrigeration trucks to a Belfor facility in Fort Worth, Tex.

Two weeks ago, Kathryn Talbot, preservation coordinator, and Michelle Turvey-Welch, head of metadata, preservation and digital initiatives at K-State Libraries, went down to Fort Worth to check on our materials.

Four people stand in a row smiling.
From left to right, Jeff Zieber, Kirk Lively, Michelle Turvey-Welch and Kathryn Talbot at Belfor in Fort Worth. July 23, 2018. 

A total of 3,500 boxes of wet books were sent to the Belfor facility. Once they arrived, a two-step process of freeze drying and then cleaning the books began. The boxes stay in the freeze drying chambers for about a week.

Books that come out of the freeze dry chambers with mold on them are gamma radiated to kill the mold spores, and books with pages that dry wavy are pressed flat. After that, all items that are in acceptable condition will be transported back to Manhattan and stored in a leased offsite facility dedicated to clean materials.

“We reviewed the books during our visit,” said Talbot. “We believe that at least 90 percent of the books will come back to Manhattan. Some will be discolored or have wavy pages, but they are still usable. The books that could not be salvaged were those with excessive mold growth on the interior pages.”

A women looks into a brown box next to a giant freezer and a man stands behind her surveying the stack of cardboard boxes.
Turvey-Welch surveys books that came out of the freeze drying chamber. July 23, 2018. 

Book Removal

Initially, we hoped that some of the books in Hale Library’s Stacks A-H could be cleaned inside the library. Unfortunately, the temperature and the humidity levels in the building are unreliable. It’s been difficult to ensure the consistent power that’s necessary to run the air conditioning units. As a result, more than 1.5 million items in Hale Library will be removed and cleaned offsite.

We are especially concerned about providing an environment that’s appropriate for materials from the Richard L. D. & Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections. Air conditioning is struggling to reach those items on Stack G and H.

Student employees in orange vests and hardhats smile in Stack H.
From left: Student employees Patrick Dittamo, Andrew Le and Shannon Harkins were a part of the team that helped to label and inventory approximately 18,000 linear feet of shelving in Special Collections. That’s the equivalent to the length of 60 football fields! July 19, 2018.
Students use flashlights to inventory boxes of special collections' material.
Team members worked under heavy plastic sheeting that is in place to protect materials from water damage. Each shelf was labeled with location, range number, section number, and shelf number so they can be returned to the correct place. July 19, 2018.

Currently, Stack A has been emptied and Belfor is boxing and moving Stacks B and G. We are hoping to have the all eight stack levels emptied by the beginning of September.

Once those books are removed, they’re sent to offsite warehouse space. K-State Libraries has leased three separate buildings where dirty materials are stored. Executive Court, an office building near the airport that was most recently used by the College of Architecture, Planning & Design during the Seaton Hall renovation, has been filled with more than 68,000 boxes of books.

Since we have tens of thousands of additional boxes to accommodate, we’ve also leased space in the Ag Press building in Manhattan and an entire former lumber yard building on the east edge of Junction City.

Inside Ag Press building with plywood floors and boxes of books.
The inside of Ag Press has been prepped with clean plywood floors, and boxes of books are filling up the new space. July 31, 2018.
Boxes on pallets arrive at Hale Library
A fresh batch of boxes is unloaded at Hale. They will be used to pack up books and other library material. About 14,000 boxes are delivered multiple times a week. July 31, 2018.
Belfor employees take apart book shelving on the fourth floor of Hale.
With the books removed from fourth floor, Belfor takes down the shelving for removal. August 2, 2018.
Parts of book shelves are piled in an alcove.
Book shelving parts are piled in an alcove on the fourth floor. August 2, 2018.

Obviously, most of our collection will be unavailable during the 2018-19 academic year. However, we still have access to hundreds of databases and other online resources. Current periodicals are located in the Math and Physics library. Course reserves are available so students can access textbooks and other materials at Library Help in the UnionInterlibrary Loan is up and ready for requests if we don’t have what you need.

Have questions? Contact us via Ask a Librarian! And again, if you’re looking for help in person, visit Library Help in the Union, which is located across from Radina’s, or stop by one of the other library locations (Math/Physics Library, Weigel Library of Architecture, Planning & Design or Vet Med Library).

Week Ten Building Update

Since our last update, we’ve been hard at work creating a blank canvas on which to build our new Hale Library. Crews have removed a huge variety of items from the building, including entire rooms full of shelving components and a one-ton air conditioning unit.

Inside the building

Most of the books have been removed from the first floor, with the exception of a small portion of Stack A. Once all the books are removed from a space, crews start dismantling shelving units.

Several white metal bookshelves are lined up behind each other, exposing an empty room.
Here, only the shelving framework remains after the shelves were removed. Note the imprint of the books left behind in the soot at the bottom of this photo. July 25, 2018.
White metal bookends and shelves lay in stacks on the ground.
Metal bookends and pieces of shelving units piled on the floor of Room 117, which is the ground floor of the 1927 building. July 25, 2018.  

Crews are removing compact shelving from the third and the fourth floors, too. The majority of bookshelves are unsalvageable due to smoke and water damage.

An empty green room with pallets on the floor and tools scattered on the floor.
Room 117 was tightly packed with movable shelving units. It was an out-of-the-way study space that students valued for its isolation and beautiful natural light. July 25, 2018.

Recently we found mold growing in the wood display cases by the second floor entrance, so they had to be removed. Previously, the display cases featured rotating exhibits that highlighted the Libraries’ services and collections.

A large wooden cabinet display is being deconstructed by workers.
The cabinets next to the entrance have been dismantled. July 31, 2018.

Lead abatement has been completed in Room 212, the second floor of the 1927 building. Before the fire, this space was filled with cubicles that were occupied by iTAC employees. Large swaths of the walls are now bare of paint, which will help the plaster dry more quickly.

Room 212 a few days after the lead abatement. July 31, 2018.

HVAC Removal

Three massive heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units on the roof that were close to the source of the fire were deemed not salvageable, so they had to be removed.

A large crane extends up past a five store limestone building.
Since the largest of the units was about eight feet tall and eighteen feet long, we brought in a crane to do the job. July 26, 2018.
The metal arm of the crane extends high above the tan, peaked roof of the library as it lifts a large, rectangular piece of the HVAC unit.
The largest unit was cut into three pieces to make it easier to lift off of the roof safely. July 26, 2018.

When the pieces were on the ground, Jeremy Sharp, a K-State facilities program manager, noticed that pieces of the aluminum had melted from the fire. To inflict that kind of damage, the heat would have needed to reach 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Two men stand next to a large metal rectangle unit and one man stands inside of the unit that is just as tall as he is.
The units are tall enough that grown men are able to stand inside of them comfortably. July 26, 2018.

Renovation

We are now in the early stages of meeting with PGAV, an architecture firm that is working on both damage assessment and the plans to renovate Hale Library. There is still a long road before we will be able to reopen, but it is an exciting time to start planning for the future.

A group of people sit around a table with blueprint on them.
Lori Goetsch, Dean of Libraries, and other library staffers meet with architects from PGAV, the firm that is helping with the renovation. July 19, 2018.
A group of people sit around a table with blueprints and a blonde woman is extending her arm to a blueprint to point at something.
Library employees share how they used the old Hale Library, what they loved about it and what they would change. July 19, 2018. 

We are still in the initial stages, but this gives us all a glimpse of what’s to come.

Hale Library: Finding the unexpected

Hale Library has seen a lot of damage from smoke and water, but even in times of chaos, we continue to capture images of unexpected humor and beauty.

The limestone siding of Hale shows water leaking out from the water used to put out the fire.
Two days after the fire, Hale still had water leaking through the limestone. May 24, 2018.
The great room covered in water reflects the decorative windows on the floor.
In the midst of destruction we find beauty. Seeing the ornamental window reflected in the water creates the illusion of calm in chaos. May 24, 2018.
A woman in an orange vest and a white hard hat sits in a chair under a sign that reads get comfy and tell us what you think.
Dean Lori Goetsch sits under a sign that says “Get comfy and tell us what you think” that was put up before the fire and survived the damage. June 8, 2018.
A limestone wall has dead vines climbing up the side.
We found dead vines behind the drywall that are at least 26 years old. July 2, 2018.
Red puzzle pieces on a dark blue table are scattered around to reveal light blue puzzle shapes left on the table.
Another unusual finding: Puzzle pieces on the fourth floor that—when moved—left their shapes behind in the soot. May 28, 2018.
A desk with a round mouse pad has been moved to show a perfect circle where the mouse pad once sat.
The soot covered every surface, so when items are moved it leaves a perfect imprint behind. June 29, 2018. 
A woman in an orange vest holds a cardboard cutout of a teenage boy in a blue sweater and white pants.
Kathryn Talbot found a cardboard cutout of Niall Horan on the third floor that came from the old Communication and Marketing Office. May 31, 2018.
Thick white tubes are hanging through the window and scattered all over the corridor.
The tubes that stretch throughout the building create a science fiction atmosphere in the library. May 31, 2018. 
White tubes are sticking out of windows and extend to the metal chain link fence.
The science fiction effect extends outside the building, too. The tubes stick out of the windows and connect to generators that push cool air into the building. May 31, 2018.
A quote from Nelson Mandela on a white board that reads "It always seems impossible until it's done."
This inspirational quote was posted during finals week and has become an unofficial motto for library staff and Belfor crews. The majority of the whiteboards have been removed with exception of this one, which everyone passes when checking in or out of the building. The sign was created by Jordyn Peyla, a student worker in the Media Development Center. 

Camila Alire: The library world’s “disaster queen”

The Hale Library fire was unprecedented. Even after the smoke cleared and K-State Libraries’ employees went back to work, it can still be difficult to comprehend the scale of the damage.

“We’ve got 1.2 million volumes that need to be restored and we’ve taken the interior of the library down to the studs,” Lori Goetsch, Dean of K-State Libraries, said. “It’s very significant. That we know of, there is not an academic library in the United States that has experienced devastation at this scale.

At the July 18 K-State Libraries all-staff meeting in Leadership Studies’ Forum Hall, we turned to Camila Alire, a retired library Dean from Colorado State University (CSU) and the University of New Mexico (UNM), for perspective. Alire is known as “the disaster queen,” having been through not one, but three library crises. She has literally written a book on disaster, “Library Disaster Planning and Recovery Handbook.” In her retirement, she acts as a consultant for libraries who experience similar setbacks.

A headshot of a women with short brown hair, brown round glasses and a green button up shirt.
Dr. Camila Alire was the Dean of Libraries at Colorado State University and University of New Mexico. Courtesy of American Library Association.

“Your disaster is extremely hard,” Alire said. “Not only did you have fire, but also you had the water damage. It is going to take you a long time to be back whole again, but I would tell you that this, too, shall pass.”

Goetsch asked Alire to talk to the K-State Libraries’ staff as we consider our future as a library and think about what we can expect during the recovery process. Her hope was that talking about the disasters she has experienced would help give staff members perspective on how to act and react.

A red book cover that reads Library Disaster Planning and Recovery.
Library Disaster Planning and Recovery Handbook written and edited by Alire.

“We have all been through a stressful ordeal and there is a lot of uncertainty with that,” Goetsch said. “I invited Camila to our staff meeting to help them understand what we might go through in the next few years.”

On July 28, 1997, just nine days after Alire started her job as Dean of CSU Libraries, Fort Collins experienced major flooding from the Cache La Poudre River. The entire city was affected, but the library was the campus building that was hit the worst.

In only four hours, they received six inches of rain. The water flowed quickly at 5,000 cubic feet per minute and put extreme pressure on the outside library wall. This pressure broke an eight-foot hole in the wall and flooded the entire basement, damaging and submerging over half a million volumes.

A giant hole is in the side of a tan building.
The pressure of the water up against the building caused a hole in the wall of the library.

While students were locking up the library that night, they went down to the lowest level to check for any remaining patrons, and that was when they heard a crack. They were aware enough to know that the sound was out of place, so they ran back up the stairs. Seconds later thousands of gallons of water poured into the basement, just as they reached the landing. It was the violent flow of the rushing water that did the most damage to the basement. If the water had been stagnant, the flood would not have been as destructive.

“Every bound volume that was down there [was] damaged,” Alire said. “The UFOs (unidentified floating objects) were entirely thrown out.”

A dark room with orange book shelves tipped over.
The rushing water caused a lot of damage to the basement of CSU Library.

A few years later, Alire became Dean of Libraries at UNM. During winter break, on Dec. 24, 2004, a pipe burst in the Science and Engineering Library. There was water damage throughout the entire building and all 300,000 volumes had to be packed out. Luckily, they got to the damage quickly and were up and running a few months later.

“The engineering library was the easiest,” Alire said. “Everything went smoothly, the consultant that they hired to come in was easy to work with, everyone got along, and it was excellent.”

She also commented that it was fortuitous that the flooding happened during a semester break: “Luckily for us—and I think this is probably an advantage when it happened [at Hale]—is you don’t have … a majority of the students and faculty here on campus in the summer,” Alire said.

Finally, on April 30, 2006, Alire faced her last crisis: A major fire in UNM’s Zimmerman Library. This was an entirely different disaster for her to deal with and most similar to what Hale Library experienced. In this case, arson destroyed 28,000 volumes and 60,000 square feet of the building. In total, soot and smoke damage covered 242,752 square feet. The heat was so intense that it melted metal on the bookshelves, but fortunately, a lot of books were salvaged.

Brown bookshelves lean to the right with books still in them.
The heat of the fire was so intense that it melted the metal on the bookshelves.

The difference between her three disasters and the fire at Hale was the magnitude. In every event Alire experienced, the libraries were open to the public within a matter of months. Hale Library’s recovery and renovation process might take up to two years to be completely functioning.

“Dean Alire really gave some sage advice on how to get through a major crisis,” Laurel Littrell, planning and assessment librarian, said. “At the same time, it also put our situation in perspective. Even though she’s the country’s foremost expert on library disasters, none of her institutions’ experiences compare to the scope of what happened in Hale Library, especially in terms of how long the building will be closed.”

Alire preached the message that, although this disaster is difficult now, there are silver linings. In our case, Hale was going to be under renovation for the first floor, but now we have the opportunity to renovate all four floors, making the entire building better for students, staff, and faculty

Help for Hale: Belfor Property Restoration

Hale Library is in recovery, but we would not be as far as we are now without Belfor Property Restoration. Their crews have been working very hard for up to twelve hours a day, six days a week in challenging conditions.

A group of people gather around each other in Yellow vests.
A fraction of the Belfor crew gathers on the walking mall east of Hale Library. There are nearly 200 Belfor employees that are working on the recovery. June 11, 2018.
A Belfor worker in an orange vest in front of Hale next to a red tent.
In order to get in and out of Hale Library, you must sign in with Belfor staff. There is always a worker stationed at the check-in tent. June 28,2018.
A pallet of bottled water sits in the back of a black truck.
Belfor crews are tackling labor-intensive work. In order to ensure they are healthy and hydrated, Belfor buys pallets of water in large quantities for their workers. June 28, 2018.
A Belfor worker in a yellow vests lifts up carpet next to white bookshelves.
A Belfor worker tears the flooring out of Room 117. Room 117 is one of the areas that sustained the most damage since it was under the Great Room. June 28, 2018.

Every inch of the library must be cleaned, including the spaces above the drop ceiling grid and the duct work. A Belfor worker stands on a ladder cleaning with a chemical sponge in order to remove the soot. June 28, 2018.

Red scaffolding on wheels sits under an exposed ceiling that has silver metal tubes sticking out of it.
The duct work and the ceiling all need to be cleaned, so they have portable scaffolding to reach everything safely. June 28, 2018.
A Belfor worker builds scaffolding in front of the Ornamental windows in the Great Room.
Belfor workers build scaffolding in the Great Room to help restore the space.  June 28, 2018.
Belfor workers stand on metal scaffolding under a giant hole in the ceiling.
The scaffolding on the south side of the Great Room will allow workers to preserve the murals. June 28, 2018
A dark room with metal beams, shelves with books, and cement flooring is lit up by a single bulb.
Some of the work was done by flashlight since commercial power has only been restored to the data center and a few of the elevators. May 31, 2018.
A dark room is lit up by a light in the distance that shows people in yellow vests working.
While much of Hale Library is still dark, portable lighting powered by generators is available in parts of the building. June 28, 2018

 


Kathryn Talbot: Master of disaster

Kathryn Talbot, K-State Libraries’ preservation coordinator, was at home when she received the call about the Hale Library fire on May 22.

“This person kept saying, ‘There was a fire, blah, blah,’” Talbot said. “I literally almost went, ‘I think you have the wrong number,’ before it dawned on me: This is Michelle from work.”

After that call from Michelle Turvey-Welch, the Libraries’ head of metadata and preservation, Talbot came back to campus feeling relatively calm.

“Driving up you didn’t see smoke, so I thought, ‘It can’t be that bad.’”

But when the firefighters were still working four hours later, Talbot knew that she needed to ask Turvey-Welch for permission to call companies that manage large-scale emergency recovery and restoration.

An aerial view of Hale Library surrounded by electric generators and three Belfor semi trailers.
More than 200 BELFOR Property Restoration employees have been working on the Hale Library recovery effort for almost eight weeks. June 21.

“We were preregistered with two companies that specialize in cleaning up after emergencies like hurricanes and tornadoes,” Talbot said. “So I called to say, ‘I think we might need your assistance.’ After four hours I knew it really was that bad.”

As K-State Libraries’ disaster team lead, it’s Talbot’s job to prepare the organization’s employees for the unexpected and to know whom to call in an emergency. By preregistering with disaster recovery companies, Talbot insured that K-State Libraries would be a priority client in case of a large-scale crisis. For example, in the instance of a tornado that affects multiple organizations, the disaster recovery company helps preregistered clients first.

That was only one element of the team’s preparation, though. Every office was supplied with one of the team’s red “disaster plan” binders, and they stocked strategic points throughout the building with emergency bins and supplies.

In a dimly lit room, the reflection of large leaded glass windows is visible in water pooled on the carpet.
Hale Library’s Great Room. May 24.

“The disaster plan is any library’s bible for how to care for the collection during a time of crisis,” Lori Goetsch, Dean of Libraries, said. “I’m confident that the damage in Hale Library would have been so much more extreme if it weren’t for Kathryn, Michelle, and a really excellent disaster plan.”

Once Talbot had made contact with BELFOR Property Restoration, she also called the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), which has a round-the-clock response line.

“I wanted their help in thinking through the situation and knowing which questions to ask the next day,” Talbot said.

Seeing the aftermath
In the following hours, as the extent of the damage became apparent, Talbot had plenty of questions, but answers were in short supply. She described her experience as she walked into Hale Library for the first time post-fire on Friday, May 25.

Woman wearing white hard hat, ventilation mask and neon orange emergency vest works by flashlight and pulls a large red book off of a bookshelf.
Talbot at work in the stacks. July 5.

“It was really super dark, and I couldn’t believe at the time they had you put on boots,” she said. “I was like, ‘Why am I putting on galoshes?’ Then, as you walked in the back door, you instantly step into water. It’s like, ‘Why is there water in the mail room? That’s kind of weird.’ … And it was dark and intensely smoky. I figured [water and smoke would be] in the Great Room, but not everywhere.”

“We went up all five floors and four of them had water. I knew most of the collection would have to be moved. There was no way that our staff could do that on our own. There was no electricity and … we had tiny LED lights. It was way creepy.”

Talbot went through the building with Belfor staff members who specialize in handling collections and documents after an emergency. They helped prioritize which areas of Hale Library would be addressed first: Room 117 on Hale Library’s first floor suffered the most water damage and the books had to be packed out right away.

By this point, it was Memorial Day weekend, and it became increasingly difficult to contact vendors and arrange supplies. In order to have enough boxes on hand, Belfor’s team bought all of the boxes in stock at Home Depot, Menards, U-Haul and Lowe’s in Manhattan, Topeka and Salina. [Read more about how they recovered wet books.]

Large cardboard boxes marked with call number ranges, shelf rows and ranges are stacked three high and four across.
Talbot, Turvey-Welch and other employees worked to capture the call number ranges on every shelf of every book case in Hale Library. They were written on corresponding boxes and entered into spreadsheets so there is a controlling guide that will help her team keep the 1.2 million volumes in order.

Today, a little more than eight weeks post-fire, Talbot cites Turvey-Welch’s constant support and non-stop work ethic for helping her get past each new unexpected challenge. She also praises the Belfor crew for helping her wrap her head around the massive scale of the project

“They’ve been through this before,” she said. “I’m like, ‘What am I not thinking of? … What do you need in order to do what you need to do?’ My dealings with their team have been highly collaborative.”

Past experience
When the Libraries aren’t in crisis, Talbot’s job looks much different. Typically, her main job duties include managing digital preservation and supervising all staff that handle aspects of physically moving books: shifting the collections from one part of the library to another, reshelving books returned by patrons, and storing and circulating books that are located offsite at the Library Annex. She also supervises the care of general circulating collections, including binding and preservation lab activities.

These days, Talbot has a desk in Unger Tower, but she doesn’t spend much time there.

“Every morning I visit Hale at about 7:40 and I do my rounds with my environmental control, I take pictures or I go, ‘Huh. I wonder why that’s like that,’” Talbot said. “I come out, upload the environmental data and send that on, maybe do some troubleshooting. It just depends on the day. It’s not like the early panicky weeks where you’ve got to react right away with some decision. It’s more like, ‘Okay, let’s think this through, because we’ve got 24 minutes to live in the situation.’”

Woman wearing white hard hat, ventilation mask and neon orange emergency vest works by flashlight and pulls a large red book off of a bookshelf.
Talbot at work in the stacks. July 5. 

“I would say about a couple weeks ago I stopped waking up in the middle of the night, so I’m either letting it go or I’m just dealing with it better. I think we’re in a better place. It sounds like by the end of August we’ll have everything out of the building. Even if it’s not cleaned, it will be in a better environment than what it is now.”

“I think another anxiety will be when we’re ready to go back,” Talbot said. “The integration … really, I haven’t mentally wrapped my brain around that. There will be a lot of collection decisions that need to be made.”

And is she considering a career change after everything she’s been through in the last two months and the many challenges ahead for renovating Hale Library?

“No,” she said, laughing. “I’m not.”

What happens to smoke damaged books?

A few weeks ago we talked about what happened to the wet library books after the fire in Hale Library, but there were also over a million books in the library that suffered smoke damage and require treatment.  

The soot from the smoke damaged every inch of the library, and it has proven very difficult to remove from surfaces. A combination of the smoke, water, heat, and non-climate controlled building left most surfaces stained. Typically soot can be wiped away, but in this case, it is almost baked on.  

This resistant soot is an anomaly that Belfor, an international disaster relief organization, has not experienced before. Because this is such a strange occurrence, we sent a few books from different parts of the library to the preservationists at the Library of Congress where they will be tested and researched.  

Books lined up behind a white shelf that shows a brown outline of where the books used to be.
Soot stains outline where books were shelved.

“This soot was different from what I typically dealt with in the past because [it] causes a stain,” Kirk Lively, director of technical services at Belfor, said. “It’s not something that you wipe your finger through and you come up with a black smudge on your finger. It’s actually stained onto the surfaces.”  

While we wait to hear from the Library of Congress, we continue to move books out of Hale Library over to Executive Court, a process Belfor has been working on since May 25.   

K-State leased Executive Court, an office space near the airport that was most recently occupied by the College of Architecture, Planning and Design during the renovation of their Seaton Hall Complex. As of now, books from rooms 117 and 222 have been moved to Executive Court as well as most of 3rd and 4th floors. We estimate 500,000 books are currently at Executive Court waiting to be cleaned.  

A side by side photo shows a giant empty room and the same room filled with boxes.
Executive Court before and after boxes of books were transported.

To clean a soot-covered book, a HEPA vacuum is used on the book’s exterior to remove most of the dirt and soot. Next, the cover, the back, and the spine of the book are wiped down with a dry chemical sponge. After the outside is clean, the book is opened and the fore edge of the pages is fanned in both directions and wiped down. It takes about 20 minutes to complete this process on a box that holds 12 to 15 books.  

Kay Rieder, Belfor project manager, demonstrates how smoke damaged books are cleaned.

After they go through this manual cleaning process, all of the books will go into an ozone chamber in order to neutralize the smell and draw out the carbon. Belfor has built two ozone containment centers in Executive Court.  

A white tent in the a large room with cardboard boxes.
One of the ozone chambers that neutralizes odors on books.

After the books are out of the ozone chamber, they go through a “white glove” quality control check. If any soot comes off the book or a smell still lingers from the fire, that book goes through the cleaning process again. Ozoning books can accelerate deterioration of items, so they will not ozone a book more than needed.  

 

A women holds a pink book up to her nose and smells it.
Kathryn Talbot, preservation coordinator, checks for any lingering odor from smoke on clean books.

The cleaning process of some of the books has begun, but the crew cannot begin cleaning them in earnest until more warehouse space is acquired to store the clean materials. It is important not to put clean books near the carbon-covered books because the clean books would absorb those chemicals again.  

Blue tape lines the floor in grids and brown boxes are stacked in the boxes.
To keep the books in order, Belfor put grids on the floor with tape. Each shelf in the library has a corresponding grid in Executive Court.

One of the challenges with Executive Court is the inability to move books on pallets, because they don’t fit through the doorways, which slows down the cleaning process considerably.  Pallets allow dozens of books to be moved at the same time but instead the boxes are managed by hand and small carts.  

Currently, the few hundred boxes that have been cleaned were moved to the Library Annex. The annex is an offsite location near Executive Court that holds part of the Libraries’ collection. Patrons are able to request books from the annex, and then they are delivered to an on-campus library help desk.  

After the books are cleaned, some of the books will be ingested into the annex and will be available for check out upon request. The annex is unable to hold the entire library collection, so hundreds of thousands of additional books will be sent to additional warehouse space, once it is acquired.  

At Executive Court, boxes are stacked seven boxes high and fill the entire building. 

The Libraries have received many questions as to why we don’t claim the books as a loss to insurance. For us, its not just about how much it would cost to replace them.  

“Many of our books and other materials are out of print,” Roberta Johnson, director of administrative and IT services, said. “K-State’s resources are the result of years of collecting and carefully managing materials that provide the most relevant information to the faculty, staff and students.” 

Not only are some of the books out of print, but it would take an exorbitant amount of time for the acquisitions and collection development department to search for and purchase the material. It would be a major undertaking to replace approximately 1.2 million volumes.  

There is no set time frame for the books to be cleaned. As of right now, Belfor estimates it could take between six to twelve months. 

 

 

Week seven update: Special collections, the Great Room and more

Welcome to our week seven Hale Library update!

Now that most floors of the building are emptied and we’re starting to work with a blank slate, truly dramatic changes are less visible. Nonetheless, surprises crop up on a regular basis—some less welcome than others.

Near a Great Room sign on Hale Library's third floor, yellow construction lights are strung across the ceiling.
Since this photo of the third floor was taken, the rest of the books have been boxed up and moved to Executive Court. June 28, 2018. 

Special Collections

The vast majority of the materials from the Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections are located on Stack G and Stack H. For weeks, our plan was to clean those materials on the premises.

“We really hoped we could set up cleaning stations in the building and go through the process of vacuuming them and wiping them down to remove soot right here on site,” Roberta Johnson, director of administrative and IT services, said.

Unfortunately, Stack G is getting hotter: A water line that provides cool water to the chilling system was damaged in the fire. It needs to be fixed, but that water line is an area of the Great Room that is currently inaccessible.

This week, we received the news that temperatures in Stack H are rising, too.

Rows of metal shelving draped in plastic are lit up by a flashlight.
There aren’t any lights in Stack H, and temperatures are rising; materials there will be boxed up and moved offsite soon. July 6, 2018.

“All of the building except the data center in the basement and a few elevators are still powered by generators,” she added. “The cooling system for Stack H isn’t getting reliable power, and until good commercial power is available, and the unit’s electrical issues are resolved, these problems will continue.”

So the materials in both Stack H and Stack G will be packed out soon and transferred to Executive Court, the storage and cleaning facility near the airport.

“In some places, the building conditions are getting worse instead of better,” Johnson said. “We just can’t risk leaving valuable materials in non-climate controlled space.”

The Great Room

A construction worker kneels on a platform at the top of the scaffolding.
A worker erects scaffolding near the ceiling along the south wall of the Great Room. June 28, 2018.

Additional scaffolding has been constructed in the Great Room. Once complete, crews will build a floor across the top; from that floor they will be able to reach the ceiling and start the restoration process.

Large plastic tubes and metal scaffolding are back lit by a leaded glass window in the Great Room.
The dehumidifer tubes are still removing moisture from the Great Room, and a second set of tubes is pumping chilled air in. July 2, 2018.

Julia Manglitz, a professional art restorer, is on-site to oversee efforts to preserve the Great Room murals, which were painted by David Hicks Overmyer in 1934.

“Her goal is to dry the plaster out very slowly in order to cause the least possible damage to the murals,” Haddock said.

An agricultural worker holding a scythe is framed by metal scaffolding in the foreground.
A detail of the agriculture mural. June 28, 2108.

He also explained that she is using a large black light to examine and photograph the murals because the UV light can make damage on the painting’s surface readily visible.

The “We are the Dream” mural is in the Academic Learning Center, which is on the opposite side of the wall from the Great Room Mural. Manglitz hopes to remove the “We are the Dream” canvas from the wall as the plaster dries, but that painting is in less-than-ideal condition and the outcome is uncertain.

“We are the Dream.” July 2, 2018.

In a related effort, there is a full painting crew in the Academic Learning Center, but they are actually “unpainting,” or removing the paint from the walls, thereby erasing a barrier that is preventing the plaster from drying out.

The next step will be to remove the ceiling in the Academic Learning Center, another part of the effort to eliminate moisture from the environment.

One building challenge and one bit of trivia

Meanwhile, up on the roof, there are three very large, non-functioning air conditioning units that will have to come off. (Well, two very large ones, and one very, very large one.)

Three rectangular gray metal boxes sit on the library roof.
Three air conditioner units are nonfunctioning. The unit at right is approximately 10 feet high by 18 feet long. July 2, 2018.

“It’s a challenge we haven’t quite managed to come up with a workable solution for yet,” Mike Haddock, associate dean, said. “There’s been talk of everything from dismantling them and bringing them down in pieces to airlifting them off with a helicopter.”

Stay tuned for those photos, right?

About a month ago, we shared photos of the dehumidification tubes that prompted references to science fiction pop culture.

Well, sci fi fans, meet the hydroxyl generator.

A large box with a circle at its center is lit by four smaller glowing blue lights inside.
A hydroxyl generator casts an eerie glow. July 2, 2018.

There are multiple boxes emitting an eerie blue glow across fifth floor. These hydroxyl generators use a phenomenon that occurs in nature to neutralize odor left by the fire.

Hydroxyls are molecules that are created when sun’s ultraviolet rays react with water vapor in the air; however, they don’t occur indoors. The generator creates atmospheric hydroxyls that neutralize smells by breaking down the chemical bonds in the odor-causing bacteria molecules. Hydroxyls also neutralize some molecules in mildew and in mold spores. The machines are safe for use in occupied areas.

Making an insurance claim? First, count everything.

If you were told to inventory the contents of your house, apartment, office or dorm room, where would you start? How many total items would be on your list?

In order to file an insurance claim after the May 22 fire, the K-State Libraries administration has been managing that overwhelming task. Roberta Johnson, director of administrative and IT services, walked us through the process of inventorying a building that’s bigger than nine football fields.

Goetsch, Mason, and Johnson, all wearing orange emergency vests and hardhats, stand in a partially demo'd doorway.
From left, Lori Goetsch, dean of Libraries, April Mason, then-provost, and Roberta Johnson, director of administrative and IT services, in Hale Library. June 11, 2018.

Johnson explained a series of steps have to be completed before the insurance company will provide financial compensation. Several tasks have been finalized.

First, K-State’s insurance company subcontracted with an insurance adjuster (in this case, Crawford & Company). Crawford & Company will work closely with Belfor, the recovery and restoration company, in determining the extent of the damage that was a result of the fire and the subsequent water exposure.

Before that happens, though, the entire contents of the building had to be inventoried and a determination made as to what was or was not salvageable, so Crawford & Company subcontracted with two more organizations. RCF Salvage inventoried all fixtures, furniture, and equipment (FFE) in the building, and Envista Forensics inventoried technology, which included everything from computers to the digital displays and checkout machines.

A long row of white metal lighting fixtures lies on the concrete floor.
Crews removed and inventoried lighting fixtures. June 28, 2018.

“I feel like I have nine million people to deal with,” she joked. “At one point there were 15 different agencies in the building, companies that have come from all over the country, Georgia, Indiana, Texas … to work on this project.”

The whole inventory process started on May 28, just six days after the fire. The bulk of the work was completed in about three weeks.

Either Johnson or K-State Libraries’ building manager, Robin Brown, walked through Hale Library with RCF Salvage’s staff to verify every single item that was inventoried. They signed what Johnson said felt like reams of carbon paper in the process, and the resulting 367 page FFE inventory included 7,749 line items. In many cases, just one of those lines represented more than one thing; for example, one entry might be a record of 35 wooden chairs.

Chairs on Hale Library’s first floor. June 11, 2018.

Envista Forensics produced a second inventory report that included approximately 1,970 pieces of technology.

“Keep in mind that almost all of this was done by flashlight because there was no power in the building,” Johnson said. “We did have temporary lighting toward the end, but I just thought these were the world’s worst conditions for the work. They sifted through the contents of every office, cubicle and storage space. And yet they were still so professional. I’ve been amazed.”

An employee's personal belongings, plastic sheeting, and debris litter an office cubicle.
Office cubicles in the information technology area on second floor were especially hard-hit with water damage. June 11, 2018. 

So what happens next?

“This is a 550,000-square-foot building; there are a lot of nooks and crannies,” Johnson said. “We’re still coming across items, and occasionally we have to go back to the inventory to make sure they’ve been accounted for. It will take time to clear up any discrepancies.”

Only once the loose ends are tied up can the adjuster valuate the inventory and provide a dollar amount to the insurance company.

“Even once the inventory process is finalized, we still don’t have estimates about the structural damage itself,” Johnson said. “That’s an entirely separate process. And until we have that piece in addition to the inventory of the building’s contents, there won’t be a total damage estimate.”

In the meantime, Johnson says she does have some idea of what the largest losses will be in terms of expense.

“The servers in the basement are among the most expensive single items,” Johnson said.

Other big ticket items include the fixtures: cubicle walls, desks and workstations.

Soft seating, wooden chairs, and office chairs stretch out in long lines. During the inventorying process, first floor was used as a holding area for furniture and boxes of books. June 11, 2018. 

“Right now they’ve carted out more than 100 industrial-sized dumpsters full of fixtures and furniture, and they’re not done yet,” Johnson said. “The loss is massive.”

Johnson is highly pragmatic about the whole process, though.

“We had no injuries,” she said. “When you think about the extent of what happened, that’s the most important thing. No injuries. I’m so grateful for that.”

Employee Possessions

Of course, there are more than 100 K-State Libraries and IT Services employees who had offices and workstations in Hale Library, and most had personal items at their desks – everything from art to clothes to their own technology. An inventory of those items was compiled separately, and employees will make claims to the insurance agency at a later date.

Among some staff members, there’s a running bet as to whose office held the most personal items. Two of the academic services librarians, Melia Fritch and Cindy Logan, are the odds-on-favorites, so we asked them about their experience.

“There was such a sense of disbelief when we learned our office was a loss,” Logan said. “We have had so many fire alarm situations where nothing was damaged, I just thought they had to be wrong … there was no way there was that much damage. It took probably a week before the news really set in.”

A group of twelve people dons orange emergency vests, hard hats and respirators.
K-State Libraries faculty and staff members prepare to enter Hale Library. May 30.

On May 30, Fritch, Logan and their Hale Library co-workers were allowed in the building for the first time to retrieve any personal belongings that were salvageable.

“It was pretty surreal visiting the office for the first time after the fire,” Fritch said. “We walked through with all the safety gear on and carrying flashlights, and it was so hot. The most disturbing thing was going into to our office and feeling like FEMA had been through since there were these orange spray-painted words like “demo” all over the walls. That was weird.”

Orange spray paint on a yellow wall reads "Demo to top" and "DMO"
Belfor crews indicated with spray paint which sections of drywall had to be removed. May 30. 

Fritch and Logan’s second floor office was packed with art, books, photos and objects. They both say they surround themselves with things that remind them of people they love, books about subjects they’re passionate about or quotes that express core beliefs.

“What I really miss is the artwork that my son had done throughout the years that I had hanging up,” Fritch said. “I was super happy that some of Tyler’s artwork was safe and I could take it, along with some photos I really wanted. Of course, I miss the Keurig, too—ha!—but the material objects, the decorations, the computer, the chair, books … those can be replaced.”

A video of Melia Fritch and Cindy Logan’s office taken shortly before the fire. 

The ceiling, carpet and part of the drywall have been removed from this empty office space.
All offices on the west end of the second floor, including Fritch and Logan’s, have been demoed. June 26, 2018. 

Logan, who laughingly admits to something of an office supply addiction, agreed, and added that she looks forward to the day when they get to move into a new space.

“For now, I miss having my 20 million different markers, highlighters, pens, notebooks and types of Post-it notes,” she said. “But I look forward to our new bright and shiny offices and making them feel like home once the building has been renovated. My office reflects me, and I will continue to fill it with things I love and from the people who love me.”

Hale Library: Week six update

Today marks six weeks since the fire at Hale Library. Since last week, carpet has been completely removed from several floors, more of the drop ceiling system has been taken out, scaffolding has started going up in the Great Room and crews have begun the labor-intensive process of wiping soot from every surface in every room.

As you’ll see here, the some of the changes are quite obvious!

The Great Room

The Great Room was the area that received the most damage from the fire, and it will take the longest to restore. In perhaps the most visually dramatic change, scaffolding is being constructed throughout so that crews can access the walls and ceiling and start the cleaning and restoration process.

Workers constructing scaffolding in the Great Room.
In these photos, the scaffolding lines the walls, but eventually it will fill the entire space so workers can access the ceiling, too. June 28, 2018. (Click photo to enlarge.)

The murals are on plaster walls that are still drying out, and we are working with preservationists in order to save them.

Workers construcing scaffolding along the murals in the Great Room.
Scaffolding on the south wall against the murals. June 28, 2018.
The Great Room ceiling: At left, a wooden beam that extends across the space has split lengthwise. At right, green mold spreading across the white plaster.
Scaffolding will allow workers to access the Great Room ceiling, which warped and split one of the wood beams and caused mold on the ceiling. June 28, 2018.

The First and Second Floors

If you read our five-week update, you know that most of floors have been cleared of furniture, carpet and drop ceilings.

As of this week, the first and second floors are completely empty. It’s exciting to see a blank canvas emerging. Now the area can be cleaned, and we can start thinking about its future.

Dozens of students on the second floor of Hale Library study and use the computers and printers.
The second floor before the fire.
Second floor of Hale Library after the carpet and ceiling tiles were torn out.
The second floor on June 6 before the furniture, technology, ceiling grid and lights were removed.
The second floor on June 28, 2018, after the carpet, furniture, technology, drop ceiling system and some areas of drywall were removed.
Hundreds of cardboard boxes sitting on the concrete floor are stacked four high.
During the initial push to remove furniture and books from Hale Library, the first floor was used for storage. June 11, 2018. 
First floor of Hale Library with ceiling, carpet and furniture removed.
Now, first floor has been cleared of all furniture and boxes. It is empty and ready for thorough cleaning. June 28, 2018.

Isolated Mold Outbreak in the Stacks

The library is a 550,000-square-foot building, and most of it is still without commercial power, which means that many of our inspections have been conducted with flashlights.

Of course, we are always looking for emerging problems throughout the building, even in places where we initially thought the damage was minimal. However, we now know that lack of light prevented us from identifying one area of concern.

In the last week, we found mold in a small, isolated section of the stacks.

A close-up of mold blooming across the tops of several books.
A small section of books has been affected by a mold outbreak. June 26, 2018.
Mold blooms across the fore-edge of several books sitting on metal shelving.
A small section of books has been affected by a mold outbreak. June 26, 2018.

So what happened? As the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that permeated the building during the fire drained from the top floors to the bottom, it flowed along any unrestricted path available. Initially, the stacks were dry, but some of that water drained down the edges of a pipe. Since there is a gap around the pipe where it passed through each floor, water seeped through to the levels below. As the water progressed down the exterior surface of the pipe, books in the immediate vicinity got wet.

Red pipe passes through a hole cut in the drywall ceiling.
Pipe that passes through several levels of the stacks. June 26, 2018.

Since this discovery, we have removed the affected books. We remain vigilant for similar leaks and pockets of moisture throughout the stacks.

Packing and Removing Books

Since the last update, we continue to remove books from the library for cleaning at an offsite location. Currently, crews are boxing and moving books on the third and fourth floors.

As of July 2, crews have packed more than 38,000 boxes of books and library materials.

Until June 28, the elevators were operating thanks to power from generators, but the elevators still didn’t have lights, so crews were moving books from the upper floors to the ground floor in the dark.

Rows of empty white metal shelving units.
Empty shelves on the third floor that were once filled with books. June 28, 2018.
Boxes of books are pushed on carts to be removed from Hale for cleaning.
Belfor workers help load out boxes of books from Hale’s fourth floor for cleaning. June 28, 2018.

Cleaning Fifth Floor

The fifth floor was relatively unscathed, but it still needs to be professionally cleaned to remediate soot and smoke damage. Even ductwork will be cleaned throughout the entire building.

On fifth, crews are cleaning every accessible surface that was exposed to soot and smoke. It’s a very labor-intensive process. First they vacuum all surfaces—walls, windows, doors, everything—with a HEPA vacuum, which is a vacuum affixed with a filter that can capture particles of 0.3 microns with 99.97% efficiency. Next, the crew goes over everything again with dry chemical sponges. And finally, they wipe the surfaces down with clean washrags.

This process will be repeated on every surface throughout the entire building.

A circular room without ceiling tiles with only ceiling grids and duct work exposed.
The fifth floor hemisphere room with ceiling tiles gone, exposing duct work in the ceiling. 

In the fifth floor, ceiling tiles have been removed, which makes the ductwork accessible for the cleaning crew.

A women with a yellow vest stands on a ladder vacuuming the metal grids on the ceiling.
A crew member HEPA vacuums near the ceiling before sponge cleaning.

All surfaces are cleaned with HEPA vacuums before they are wiped down with chemical sponges.

A women in a yellow vest holds a long pole with a chemical sponge to clean the inside of the ceiling and duct work.
A crew member uses a chemical sponge to wipe down the ceiling and duct work.

In order to reach every inch of the soot with a chemical sponge, the crews put them on long poles.

Two black trash bags sit next to each other. In the left bag are dirty yellow chemical sponges and in the right bag are brown dirty wash rags.
Used chemical sponges and rags have to be disposed of.

Emptying damaged furniture, construction materials and books from the library is part of the process of creating a clean slate. Day-to-day, sometimes it feels like a slow process that requires an overwhelming amount of labor. When we think about the big picture, though, it’s an exciting first step toward renovating Hale Library and creating a new, vibrant research environment that will serve the entire K-State community.

We’re taking a break for the rest of the week, but check back early next week for the latest Hale Library news! Have a fantastic Independence Day, all!

After the Fire: Where are they now?

After the Hale Library fire, more than 80 K-State Libraries faculty and staff members plus 37 Information Technology Services staff members and several dozen student employees were left without office space. After the first few days of assessing damage to the library, it became clear that Hale wouldn’t reopen for some time.   

Thanks to the generosity, assistance and compassion of our K-State community, we have been able to find temporary office locations across campus. We are so appreciative to the Alumni Center, Bluemont Hall, Business Building, Dykstra Hall, Seaton Hall, Unger Complex and Welcome/Career Center for their generosity in welcoming us into their spaces. 

Our employees may be spread across campus, but they are ready to provide their help and services to campus and community once again.

(Please note, these photos represent only about half of the K-State Libraries and IT Services employees. Dozens of library staff members have worked shifts in Hale Library helping to pack damaged books and remove them from the building. Some were in meetings when we visited, and still others refuse to let us get within 50 yards when we have a camera out.)

Academic services librarians for humanities, fine arts, social sciences, business, education and instructional design are located in 2001 Business Building.
The Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship and the STEM librarians are in 2123 Business Building (NSSI).
The K-State Libraries admin team, including Dean Lori Goetsch, are on the third floor of the Alumni Center.
Special collections staff members are located in 116 Bluemont, but special collections faculty members do not yet have a long-term location.
Communications and marketing, web services, and planning and assessment are in office spaces in the Berney Family Welcome Center.
Building services, represented here by Jesica Thornton, is working out of 217 Dykstra. (We will get your photo yet, Robin Brown!)
The Unger Complex is home to the largest number of Hale Library employees. More than 20 members of the acquisitions department, the metadata, preservation, and digital initiatives department and the content development department are all in 200 Unger Tower.
Half of the Libraries’ information technology services staff is located in 146 Unger.
Three additional information technology services employees can be found in Seaton Hall … or, more frequently, on the move, supporting their coworkers in all of the various office spaces across campus!
Library user services is located in 3002 Seaton.
Interlibrary services is operating out of the Library Annex near the Manhattan Regional Airport.
Most IT Services employees can be found in the Cat’s Pause Lounge in the K-State Union. Additional staff members have been relocated to 2116 Business Building and to Unger Complex.

Hale Library: Week five update

Today marks five weeks since the May 22 fire at Hale Library. In this update, we have a lot to share about our demolition progress.

A huge amount of damaged drop ceiling, drywall and carpet has been removed.

Ceilings

Ceiling grid and tiles are caving in after suffering water damage.
Second floor, Media Development Center, May 31, before ceiling removal.
Ceiling tiles and grids are removed from a hallway, exposing pipes and electric wiring.
Second floor after ceiling tiles were removed, June 14.
A room with ceiling grids up without ceiling tiles, leaving the tubes and electric exposed, while the furniture is covered in white plastic.
Second floor after ceiling tiles were removed, June 8.
Ceiling grids have been removed from the library and tubes and wiring are even more exposed, while furniture is covered in white plastic.
Second floor of Hale Library with all ceiling grids removed, June 14.

Walls

There was also extensive water damage to the drywall. In some areas, only a few feet needed to be removed, but in other parts, the entire wall had to be demolished and only metal studs remain.

Yellow wall with spray paint marking two feet of wall needing to be removed, while two feet of the wall has been removed, exposing metal studs.
Second floor, June 14. Two feet of the wall was removed since only the lower portion was damaged
Dry wall has been removed, leaving only metal studs in its wake and exposing a wall sign for the Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship.
First floor, June 8. In the Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship (CADS), half to all of the drywall was removed.
A hallway has all of the carpet, ceiling tiles, and try wall removed, leaving only metal studs and cement flooring.
First floor, northwest corner, looking east down the hallway that runs between Room 117 and Stack A, June 14. The majority of the drywall was removed from this portion of the building.
A room with debris over the floor and a single light in the middle of the room shows a wall with only metal studs and no dry wall.
Fourth floor, Academic Learning Center, June 14. The ALC is the on-campus tutoring facility for student athletes; this space experienced extensive damage and will be gutted.
A stairwell is caution taped off with the side wall exposing metal studs and electric wiring.
Fourth floor, north stairwell, June 14.
Dry wall has been removed showing a limestone wall behind metal studs.
Second floor, June 14. When drywall was removed, limestone from the exterior of the 1955 Farrell Library addition was exposed.
Looking through a metal chainlink fence lays brown baseboards next to purple dumpsters.
Baseboards were water damaged and will be disposed of along with the drywall and drop ceiling system.

Furniture and technology: Soot damage

Most of the furniture in the building was damaged beyond repair and will need to be thrown away. The tables that were located across all five floors of the building suffered so much smoke damage that the toxic soot cannot be cleaned off of them.

Already, the majority of the furniture from the first through the third floors has been disposed of. All told, it filled a large industrial dumpster 65 times.

Because the soot from the smoke is so toxic, every inch of ductwork in the 550,000-square-foot building will need to be taken down and professionally cleaned.

In addition to the ductwork, all surfaces of every room will have to be professionally cleaned to eliminate the soot. Cleaning the first through fourth floors could take about ten weeks.

Blue topped tables sitting in a row next to each other.
The tables sustained a significant amount of smoke damage. Most have been disposed of.
A mouse has been moved on a blue desk to reveal a light blue outline of the mouse.
When loose items that were left on the tables were picked up and moved, it was easy to see how much soot coated all surfaces throughout the building.

Furniture: Water damage

The original Farrell library tables suffered intense water damage that stripped and warped the wood beyond repair. These photos were taken two days after the May 22 fire.

A grey capital has fallen on a water damaged table.
The Great Room tables sustained a significant amount of water damage.
Brown wood tables are warped and wavy after severe water damage.
Both the veneer and the underlying wood was cracked and warped from prolonged exposure to water.

Book Retrieval

Luckily, not everything was completely unsalvageable. While removing books, the crew and staff were in desperate need of book carts and were able to salvage 30 book carts from the fifth floor.

Progress continues on the book retrieval process. At this point, 30,000 full boxes of books have been removed.

Rows of colorful book carts are lined up against the wall.
Book carts, fifth floor, June 14.
Rows of deconstructed cardboard boxes are lined up against the wall from floor to ceiling.
This is just a small percentage of the boxes that are ready to be assembled and packed with books that will be relocated relocated offsite for cleaning and storage.
On the right are cleared off white bookshelves and on the left the wall is lined with brown cardboard boxes.
The entirety of the Music and Art collection has been boxed and moved off of the fourth floor.

Technology

In the last week, the data center, which had been operating off of generators, was returned to commercial power.

Additionally, the electronics in the building have been assessed, and about 70 percent of what was deemed a loss has been prepared for disposal through the e-waste process.

Dozens of computer screens sit on a concrete floor.
Damaged computers waiting for the e-waste process.

Obviously, there are many moving parts to the recovery process. Before we can implement our plans for K-State’s future Hale Library, the damaged portions of the building must cleared out. We are making strides forward every day.

We’d like to extend our deep appreciation to our K-State Libraries and Information Technology coworkers and the Belfor team for everything they’ve accomplished thus far.

 

 

What happens to wet books?

After the fire it was critical to address the issue of damaged books, especially those that were wet. Hundreds of thousands gallons of water were used in the rescue effort, and that water drained down into different parts of the library like Room 117, which was full of books stored on compact shelving.

The floor between white metal shelves and the compact shelving units is covered in debris from white ceiling tiles. Room 117 covered in ceiling tile debris from water damage.

In order to preserve wet books it is best to freeze them. The process of freezing the book turns the water into a solid and stops further damage and mold growth. The majority of wet books were part of the circulating collection housed in Room 117. At this point, 3,357 boxes of wet books have been transported out of Hale Library.

Packing and gathering books is a long process that has been complicated by the fact that library personnel could not enter the building for several days. When they finally could start working, the water damage had left the building with no power.

A row of wet books expands as the water soaks in begins to press against the ends of the shelving unit and form an arc.
In some places, shelves of wet books started expanding so much that the pressure lifted them off of the shelves.

Since the books were stored on compact shelves powered by electricity, at first they couldn’t move the shelves to access the books. Compact shelving moves on chain-link rails, which allows for libraries to provide more books in less space.

“We were unable to initially power up the shelving in Hale 117 with battery back-ups, so our wet materials stayed in un-airconditioned, nonclimate-controlled conditions for a number of days,” said Michelle Turvey-Welch, Head of Metadata, Preservation, and Digital Initiatives.

A women in an orange vest and a white hard hat is inspecting the brown compact shelves.
Michelle Turvey-Welch surveys the compact shelving after the fire.

Once a professional came in to remove the chains on the rails of the compact shelving units, the process of moving wet books became easier.

There is an established protocol that preservationists use when freeze drying books. First, they need to be packed in a specific way: They must be placed spine down in a box that has been thoroughly lined with heavy plastic. Then, those boxes need to be tightly packed in order to help the books maintain their shape.

A large cardboard box lined with heavy black plastic is ready to be filled with wet books.
Boxes that the wet books go into are lined with contractor-grade trash bags to prevent moisture from destroying the cardboard during transportation.

Next the boxes are sent to the freezers where they sit for anywhere from several days to several weeks depending on how wet the book is. Housing and Dining Services at K-State was kind enough to loan us the use of their industrial freezer, which is located in the Pittman Building. The freezer is anywhere between negative ten and negative fifteen degrees.

Boxes are stacked on palettes in a giant industrial freezer.
Wet books sit in the Housing and Dining Services freezer before they are transported to Ft. Worth, Texas.

The books that were in the freezer have been loaded into refrigerated trucks and shipped to a Belfor regional technical service center that specializes in water damaged documents and books in Ft. Worth, Texas. The wet books will be put into vacuum freeze dryers that will draw out the rest of the moisture and turn it to water vapor. Then the books will undergo the final restoration and cleaning process.

 

After the Hale Library Fire: What’s past is prologue

It started shortly after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22.

Alarms went off in Hale Library. Employees reported smoke.

The building was safely evacuated, and emergency personnel from the Manhattan Fire Department, Riley County EMS, Fort Riley, Blue Township and others responded.

Firefighters on the roof of Hale Library.
Manhattan firefighters on the roof of Hale Library as the sun sets on May 22, 2018. Photo courtesy Manhattan Fire Department.

In order to save the structure, several hundred thousands of gallons of water flooded the building.

Outside of the library, the entire K-State community experienced system outages. To protect the university’s data center, which is located in Hale Library’s basement, online tools such as Webmail, HRIS, KSIS and others were taken offline. By June 4 —thanks to efforts from staff from multiple units across the university who worked round-the-clock—vital services were restored due to generator power.

Additionally, since the majority of the university’s library materials were unavailable, the Libraries made it a priority to restore interlibrary loan services as soon as possible. They were up and working again by June 1.

This is what K-State’s faculty, staff, and students experienced outside of Hale Library.

Inside of Hale Library, the damage was much, much worse than initially hoped. On May 24, President Richard Myers and Dean of K-State Libraries Lori Goetsch saw the destruction for the first time.

Dean Goetsch examines the damage.
Dean Lori Goetsch uses the flashlight on her cell phone to point out an outline left in the soot after wet books were removed from Room 117.

“To be honest it was pretty devastating,” Dean Goetsch told Brady Baumann of KMAN. “It was heartbreaking to see the amount of damage. In order to enter the library, we of course put on hard hats. We had to put boots on because the water was up to our ankles. … It was really sad. You know, I’ve been here for 14 years, and Hale … feels like home. … And it was like seeing your home damaged.”

Historic Farrell Library bore the worst of the destruction. Holes for the firefighting efforts were cut in the roof, and a lot of the water poured through that part of the building.

A stained glass window is reflected off of the standing water on the Great Room's floor.
The condition of the Great Room on May 24, 2018, two days after the fire.

Many K-Staters are familiar with Farrell Library’s iconic Great Room, but most are probably not aware that the 1927 building also houses the Academic Learning Center (ALC), K-State’s athletic tutoring facility. The ALC is an essential study location that provides vital tutoring services for student athletes.

The “We Have a Dream” mural, which was created 1978-80 by several multicultural student organizations, covers one large wall of the facility. The ALC will have to be gutted, and it is uncertain if the mural can be saved.

The “We Are the Dream” mural is draped in plastic sheeting while drywall removal is conducted in the ALC.

Below the ALC and Great Room, on Farrell Library’s second floor, the IT Help Desk, multiple iTAC offices and the Media Development Center were extensively damaged, as was the technology in those spaces.

Nevertheless, even as K-State Libraries administrators were absorbing the scope of the disaster, they were also launching the recovery process.

Within 48 hours, Belfor, an international disaster recovery and property restoration company, was on site to assess the damage.

On May 27, more than 75 Belfor workers began removing wet carpet and ceiling tiles from the library. By June 1, their ranks had grown to nearly 200 workers from eight states. They swarmed the site, performing assessment, cleaning and determining what could and could not be salvaged.

Walls of technology spaces have been taken down to the studs.
The ceiling tiles and the majority of the drywall in the Media Development Center on Hale Library’s second floor has been removed.

Most of the carpet and ceiling tiles in the building have been removed, and it’s estimated that about half of the drywall will need to come out.

Two weeks following the fire, all of Hale Library’s occupants—87 K-State Libraries faculty and staff members, 38 IT Services staff members, 2 Academic Learning Center employees and dozens of student employees— were generously welcomed into 13 temporary locations across the university.

Many, many challenges lie ahead for the recovery effort. Even today, there is very little lighting since electricity has not been restored. The generators on the lawn power dehumidifiers and air cooling units in an attempt to keep the temperature and humidity more manageable. On hot days, it reaches 90 degrees inside the building. Workers have to wear hardhats, vests, and respirator masks, so that combination makes the heat even more oppressive. The sheer scale of the recovery for the 550,000-square-foot Hale Library is immense, and there are new problems to be solved at every turn.

Some of the tubing that helps remove moisture from the building is piped out of the windows by the entrance to Hale Library’s main floor.

This blog will be our place to share our journey, and we hope you’ll follow along as we plan for the future.

The outpouring of support from faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and other libraries around the country has been overwhelming. We are profoundly grateful for their generosity and kind words, and we know that with the K-State Family behind us, the long chapter ahead of us has a very, very bright ending for an exciting, new Hale Library.