It’s done! Thanks to hundreds of workers putting in thousands of hours, more than 1.5 million collection items have been packed out of Hale Library. The herculean effort was completed on September 20, a little less than 17 weeks after the fire.
Maybe you work with objects in quantities of 1.5 million on a regular basis and can easily wrap your head around how big this project was. But if that’s not the case, we’ve crafted some comparisons to help everyone visualize the scope of the situation.
So how did this massive pack-out all start? The first things to leave Hale Library after the May 22 fire were the wet materials in Room 117.
Those 4,000 boxes of wet books were shipped in refrigerated trucks to a Belfor preservation lab in Ft. Worth, Tex. The materials were freeze-dried, cleaned and treated with ozone. More than ninety percent were deemed salvageable.
After the wet books were safely out of the building, volumes from second, third and fourth floors were packed up.
The last items to leave Hale Library came out of the Richard L. D. & Marjorie Morse Department of Special Collections on the fifth floor.
So from beginning to end, the pack-out started in late May on the hot, humid first floor, and it ended in late September in a chilly, air-conditioned Stack H, just above Hale Library’s fourth floor.
Does that give you a better idea of how big this project was? No?
Here’s another story problem: If 15 books fit in each box, and 40 boxes were stacked on one pallet, and 24 pallets were packed onto every truckload that left Hale Library, then the 1.5 million items required 104 semi trucks.
Until Hale Library is renovated, all of the books—approximately 147,400 boxes of them—will be stored in four different air-conditioned warehouses across the region. Because of the soot damage, books will be individually cleaned, re-boxed and stored until they can be returned to campus.
It is a huge relief to have the entire collection safely out of the building and know that it will come home to a new, improved Hale Library.
Thank you to everyone who worked on this project. We hope you can take a few days off to catch your breath: You deserve a break before you start planning how we’ll move it all back!
Original infographics created by Katherine Kistler, K-State Libraries graphic design student employee.