Kansas State University

search

Hale Library Blog

Month: February 2020

Building Update: Taking Things to the Next Level

If you walk into Hale Library today, one of the first things you might notice is how busy the first floor has become. With floors 2 through 5 currently closed, students are grabbing every chair and filling every collaboration room they can find. Desks and study nooks on the first floor are prime real estate right now, but soon, students and the K-State community will be able to branch out.

The second floor of Hale, set to open immediately following Spring Break, is currently being finalized and outfitted with swanky new furniture.

In less than a month, students and members of the community will be able to walk down this hallway, known as the loggia entrance, and into the second floor.

Early last week, workers started assembling furniture from the multitude of boxes stacked into corners on the floor. The wishbone-shaped computer stations were taking shape, their grey tops left to one side in preparation. By Friday, the stations were nearly complete, with the only missing pieces being the computers themselves.

Early last week, boxes of furniture were piled high throughout the second floor. Crew members began constructing the wishbone-shaped computer stations in pods throughout the floor.
Setting up the wiring for the computer stations is a handful!
And voila, the stations for the computers are set up and ready for the main attraction…the actual computers. There will be 99 public computers on the second floor.
In the Great Room, crew members are working on replacing the lattice work along the walls near the ceiling.

Meanwhile, in the Great Room on the third floor, things also are progressing. Earlier this month, we shared how the woodwork from the ceiling had been repaired and varnished, and that workers had started putting back the pieces in their original places.

Most of the ceiling woodwork has been completed, including the tresses and purlins. Currently, workers are putting up the lattice work along the sides of the room.

While there is still a substantial amount of work to be done, the Great Room is getting closer and closer to looking like the “Harry Potter” room we all know and love. An up-close view of the ceiling woodwork reveals how beautifully stained the wood is, giving one an idea of the high level of artistry the artisans working with the wood possess.

Most of the other portions of Historic Farrell Library are still under heavy construction; crew members are focused mainly on plaster work.

The first floor of Historical Farrell Library used to be filled with tall bookshelves, which had the unfortunate effect of blocking out a lot of natural light from the windows. Plans for the renovation include shorter bookshelves that will allow more natural light to fill the room. How illuminating!
If you look closely enough at the carved columns in Historic Farrell Library, you’ll notice a recurring theme…the acorns!

The main welcome desk on the first floor of Hale also received a makeover. The welcome desk is a one-stop resource for students and members of the community who have questions about the library, including directions and  resources the library offers.

While cleaning of the books finished in January 2020, other materials, including maps and microfilms are still being cleaned. In this picture, several maps are being ozoned, a process that removes the smell of smoke from items.

Raise the beams!

As everyone at K-State begins to settle into the new semester, we are taking exciting steps with the restoration of the Great Room. After months of cleaning, repairing, sanding and staining the wood from the Great Room ceiling, the first pieces have now made their way back to their original location.

Once the wood was cleaned and repaired, Phil Crabb, an employee of Riley Construction, joined the project to sand and stain the wood. He has been in the wood refinishing business for decades. After working on other projects, including historic Noble House in Wichita, Kan., Crabb says he wasn’t afraid to take on the task of restoring Hale Library’s Great Room woodwork.

“I walked in here and it was just piles of wood. Many of which have already been moved up from the floor. So it’s been stacked deep in here. I said this is an opportunity, it’s a challenge and it’s going to be a lot of fun. And every single day has been outstanding.”

Phil Crabb works on staining and refinishing wood pieces.
Crabb, a well-rounded professional of the decorative arts, employed several skills for this project, including staining and refinishing woodwork to give it a nice, dark glossy look that matches the historic atmosphere of the room and architecture.
Phil Crabb inspects the woodwork near the ceiling.
Crabb examines some of the wood on the Great Room ceiling. Once all the wood is put back in place, Crabb is in charge of handling any minor repairs and giving everything an extra coat of varnish by hand.

Some of the wood pieces in the Great Room were rotted and many needed repairs. Crabb says that after the wood was stripped, cleaned and sanded, they faced a new challenge: The wood would not stain correctly.

“The situation was that the restorationists had almost cleaned it too well. And so, all this wood, when stained, in our samples, would not take the dark stain. I took two weeks to make samples, and I’d be sitting there putting stain on, waiting for 20 minutes to wipe it off, and it still wouldn’t be dark enough.”

A picture of an acorn finial lying on the ground, damaged.
After the May 2018 fire, the wood in the Great Room was badly damaged by water and several pieces were cracked.

And so, Crabb turned to water popping, a process that uses water to reopen the grains of the wood to better allow it to stain without any blotches or different-colored spots. The process requires dunking each wood piece in water to soak it, then letting it dry for a least two hours before staining. After using 110 gallons of distilled water, the woodwork turned out beautiful Crabb says.

A picture of the repaired and varnished acorns.
Several acorn finials sit after receiving a coat of varnish. Crabb says he is grateful for the work of the carpentry crew headed by master carpenters Ralph Lee, Ivan Smith, Claude Crawford and Brain Hauck.
A picture of a room completely filled with labeled wood pieces.
All the wood pieces of the Great Room were meticulously labeled as they were removed, so that they can be put back in the exact same place.
A picture of the construction crew pushing a wood center piece into place near the ceiling.
Crews have started the incredible process of reconstructing the large beams and installing them back on the Great Room ceiling.

Crabb’s mother, Mary Anne McNamee, was a 1943 graduate of K-State who loved the Great Room and studied there often. Additionally, Crabb says he also has a special connection with the Great Room that has made this project all the more meaningful to him.

“I’m not a graduate here, but I’m an alumni in the sense that I’ve taken several courses. I used to go and read in the great room, in Hale room 308, and you know, you get up from your reading and you take a look at the antiquarian books, you look at the murals. There’s something about tall ceilings in roomy environments that’s really good for the mind.”