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Hale Library Blog

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.

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