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Hale Library Blog

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.