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Hale Library Blog

Cleaning house: Week eighteen update

We’ve witnessed a lot of things go down on the fourth floor of Hale Library over the years: students camping under tables with blankets and pillows during finals week; physical anthropology study sessions that featured skeletons and piles of bones; and, well, let’s be honest, we’ve seen some fourth-floor stacks activities we wish we hadn’t.

But we’ve never seen fourth floor as a woodworking shop … until now. A lot of materials — like the entire physical library collection and one of the murals — have been packed out so they can be cleaned and stored until Hale Library renovations are complete.

Dozens of unvarnished, clean wooden beams of different shapes are arrayed on the floor.
Clean wooden beams from the Great Room ceiling fill Hale Library’s fourth floor. 

The Great Room woodwork is staying, though. Crews are cleaning and stripping the beams. Eventually, they’ll be refinished, and when the roof and ceiling are repaired and the space is ready for renovation, the beams will be reinstalled.

The fourth floor woodworking space is walled off with plastic.

Two workers wearing white t-shirts and hard hats stand next to heavy pieces of wood resting on sawhorses.Crew members from John Canning Co. clean and remove varnish from two decorative arch braces that hung in the Great Room. 

A dark-haired man in a white t-shirt and hardhat uses a cloth to wipe a heavy piece of wood sitting on sawhorses.
A worker from John Canning Co. cleans a piece of Great Room woodwork.
Another worker applies stripper to remove coats of old varnish.

Meanwhile, back in the Great Room, conservators continue to monitor and stabilize the David Hicks Overmyer murals.

At left, a worker in a white hard hat stands elevated on a rough wood floor supported by scaffolding. An allegorical mural depicting the arts is to his right.
John Canning staff members have cleaned the murals, removed the damaged layer of varnish, stabilized areas of paint and applied a new layer of varnish.
In a close-up, shadowy view, a woman in a white hard hat and yellow construction best holds an iPad. The handle of a mallet is visible tucked under her right arm.
Julia Manglitz, an architect from TreanorHL Historic Preservation, stands on one of the ledges supported by scaffolding in the Great Room. She explained to us how she tests the condition of the plaster by “sounding,” or tapping the wall with a mallet and listening for how hollow it seems.
A woman's torso and arms are visible; she holds an iPad with a line drawing of the Great Room wall on it in her left hand and points at it with a stylus in her right hand.
Once she’s tested the plaster through sounding, Manglitz creates a visual map of the condition of the wall on her iPad. She reports that many sections are still very wet. (In fact, on the two floors below the Great Room, the moisture level in some of the plaster and stone walls is as high as 80 percent.)
An art deco style painting of a figure with curling brown hair
A figure from the “Arts” mural is covered in white spots of thermoplastic adhesive, which is used to stabilize flaking paint. 

Additional mural restoration is on hold until two things happen: First, the plaster walls need to be more thoroughly dried out, and second, the rest of the Great Room restoration needs to be more advanced so that the murals aren’t re-damaged during that process.

In a room filled with scaffolding, large rectangles of gray fabric cover the murals on the wall. To prevent the murals from getting damaged while the rest of the Great Room is renovated, conservators have covered them with a felt-like fabric that’s attached to a tack strip that runs around the perimeter of each painting.

In the temporary “dance floor” space above the murals (which are barely visible at right), the roof joists are exposed. 

Up above the murals, the Great Room’s decorative woodwork has been removed, and the ceiling has been completely torn out. Crews from Hutton Construction are moving in to start replacing the roof and ceiling in the 1927 building.

Elsewhere in Hale Library, most of the recent action has centered on cleaning toxic soot from all surfaces and scraping up the carpet glue. Since that process is nearly complete, the size of the Belfor Property Restoration crew has been scaled down.

Metal scaffolding extends down a four-story stairwell.
Your daily dose of vertigo is brought to you by the scaffolding in Hale Library’s southeast stairwell, where they recently cleaned walls, railings, light fixtures and the ceilings.
Eight workers in hard hats and yellow construction vests are stationed across the entire length of the floor wielding long-handled scraping tools.
The process of scraping carpet glue on Hale Library’s third floor was a lot labor intensive and a little gross and sticky.  
Library or roller rink? After the glue was scraped off, the concrete and tile floors were cleaned and polished.

Even though the Belfor folks are starting to leave Manhattan, they aren’t taking a break: As organizations across the Carolinas assess the devastation wrought by Hurricane Florence, Belfor will be on the ground with their massive semi-truck command center and their amazing people. We wish them a safe assignment as they begin recovery efforts there.

It’s been eighteen weeks of damage assessment and drying out, packing collections and planning. The space is a clean slate, and in forthcoming posts we’ll be able share a lot more about the Hale Library of the future.

2 thoughts on “Cleaning house: Week eighteen update
  1. Thank for the continuous updates! I am no longer on campus, but as a recent Alum have been very interested in the progress of Hale’s recovery. The staggering amount of damage and work thus far to bring Hale back has been amazing to follow through this blog.

    Best of luck moving forward! I can’t wait to see where the library and our campus move towards with a clean slate to such an iconic and important hub to the K-State Family. Keep the updates coming, and Hail Hale!

  2. Thank you, Brandon! Your support is so appreciated! We look forward to giving you a tour of a fabulous new library not too far in the future.

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