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Hale Library Blog

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!

2 thoughts on “Week Fifteen Update: A ton of Jenga fun and other developments
  1. I’d like to know a little bit more about the people who are doing all the meticulous work and how they came to be in this profession. Just a bit of human interest.

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