Kansas State University


Hale Library Blog

Author: Cailin Riley

An interview with the Great Room murals’ lead conservator, Rachel Gilberti

Over the last few weeks, art conservators from John Canning & Co., an historical decoration and restoration company, have been busy at work in the Great Room. Their goal is to fully restore the four Great Room murals to pristine condition—not an easy task after what the art has been through.

Art conservators from John Canning & Co. have been busy for the last few weeks in efforts to fully restore the Great Room murals.

Rachel Gilberti, fine arts conservator and lead on the project, said her team has recently been working on removing an older layer of varnish from the murals before they will add a new one. Back in 2018, Gilberti’s team came in to perform emergency work on the murals to save them from further damage, due to the water that was used to extinguish the building fire. They were able to do so, but further restoration could not be done until the thick wall the murals are on had completely dried. Two years later, the wall is dry enough for full restoration efforts to take place!

Fine arts conservator Rachel Gilberti surveys the Agriculture mural, one of the more damaged murals.

Last week, we pulled Rachel away from removing varnish long enough to chat about the progress her team is making on the murals. She had some amazing insight for us, along with some interesting details about the murals that most people do not know.

Below, you can watch a short video segment of our interview with Rachel.

The art conservators use scissor lifts to reach all sections of the murals.

Note: Interview responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

What was it like, seeing the murals right after the fire, to now, two years later?

Rachel Gilberti: I’m really happy with how they turned out, especially because of the things the murals went through beforehand. The fire itself didn’t cause much harm, but the water from the sprinkler system did. They were exposed to a lot of water damage. And the wall that the murals are on, believe it or not, is 14 inches wide so it soaked up quite a bit of water. And the type of stone that you have here in Kansas absorbs a lot of water naturally, so it took a long time for the walls to completely dry up. The paint layer actually separated itself from the plaster, and so we had to go through every crack we could visibly see on the wall and inject adhesive so that it stayed where it is supposed to stay.

The murals that were most affected, the agriculture and arts murals, those were consolidated several times, which is an unusual situation because normally we would start a project after the damage has been done, not while the damage is still occurring. I had no idea what the result was going to be at the end. But we’re back after two years and the murals are on the wall, they stayed safe, there is minimal blooming from the varnish we applied. So now we’re taking off that old varnish and will put on a new layer now that the wall is dry so that the murals won’t have a milky quality to them. I’m happy with them—they should come out really nice at the end.

Art conservator Tim Phebus works on removing an old layer of varnish from the Arts mural.

What is the biggest challenge with restoring the murals?

RG: Number one, we didn’t know how long it would take for the wall to dry. We also didn’t know how much damage the water would actually inflict on the murals. But we’re happy that it turned out alright in the end.

The white circles on the murals flag areas where the plaster has separated from the wall. These spaces will be filled with a special adhesive.

How long will restoring the murals take?

RG: We’re here for another month to work on these, and then we’ll start work on the “We Are the Dream” mural which might take another few weeks to a month. Once you get to this stage, things move along pretty fast. It’s the preemptive work beforehand that takes longer, the consolidation work.

What is your favorite part about working with historical buildings?

RG: I like to see the transformation because it’s like bringing the building back to its original, artistic conception. The artist for the murals considered colors and the scheme of the building itself when creating the art. If you look at the Home mural, [David] Overmyer actually reflects the Great Room windows onto the mural—you can see the diamond pattern of the windows on the mural. That’s a level of detail that most people wouldn’t notice from the floor.

Of the four murals, the Arts mural received the most water damage. However, Gilberti is confident that it will be back in pristine condition soon!

That’s really neat. Lastly, do you have a mural that is your favorite to work on?

RG: I like the Arts, but maybe I just sway that way because art is my thing. The instrument there and the color palette. I also like that Overmyer stylized his figures in 20’s style clothing and even their hairstyles. I find that interesting because not many artists focused on that time period. But I’ve been hearing that a lot of people like Agriculture too, everybody likes the moon!

We want to say a big thank you to Rachel and her team for graciously allowing us to disrupt their important work so we could chat with them and gather photo and video of the murals under restoration. We know how much it means to the K-State community to see these beautiful works of art again, and we along with you, simply cannot wait to see the final product!

Building update: Work on the murals begins!

This week, we’re celebrating the start of restoration work on the murals! Over the next few weeks, Rachel Gilberti and her art restoration team from the John Canning Company will review the murals and work to bring them back to their original glory.

The murals in the Great Room gave been uncovered.
The murals have been uncovered for the first time in nearly two years and restoration work has begun.

Back in 2018, soon after the fire, Gilberti and a team came in to assess the damage and do as much immediate repairs to the murals as they could. Afterward, they were covered while the rest of the Great Room underwent its huge reconstruction and restoration process. Last week, the covers were taken off the murals for the first time in two years!

A picture of Rachel Gilberti in front of the murals.
Rachel Gilberti, fine arts conservator with the John Canning Company, holds acetate transparencies of the murals from two years and today. The transparencies show the difference in damage to the murals from right after the fire to how they look today.

The fourth floor has seen some significant progress lately, as crew members work on installing ceiling tile and mobile bookshelves. Further work has also been done on the graduate study rooms on the third floor, along with the staircase within the Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab.

The stairs between the first and second floors of the Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab are covered with wood temporarily.
The stairs connecting the first and second floors of the Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab are currently covered with wood. After completion, the wood coverings will be removed to reveal stone steps.
The graduate study rooms on the third floor are under construction.
Graduate study rooms on the third floor will provide dedicated space for graduate students to use. 

On the first floor, students, staff and faculty have been able to visit and purchase items from the newly opened Joyce and Joe’s Cornerstone Café. Right now, visitors can purchase grab and go options and consume them in the café area.

Inside Joyce and Joe's Cornerstone Cafe, grab and go food and drink options are laid out for visitors.
The grab and go section of Joyce and Joe’s Cornerstone Café provides easy snacks and drinks for those who need a little extra energy while studying! The café will offer an expanded menu of made to order items later this semester.
A picture of crew members working on installing the rails for the mobile bookshelves on the fourth floor.
Crew members on the fourth floor have been installing the rails for the mobile bookshelves.
A picture of the southwest stairwell leading to the fourth floor, with a stained glass window.
In the southwest stairwell leading to the fourth floor is a stained glass window, undamaged by the 2018 fire. The circular sunflower window was made by Bill Hemminger in memory of Elmer Tomasch, an art professor at K-State during the seventies. Tomasch made the statue of Johnny Kaw in City Park.
Crew members work on repairing and painting the ceiling in the fourth floor corridor.
Crew members work on repairing and painting the ceiling in the fourth floor corridor. We’re super impressed with their ability to balance on the stilts they use to reach high spaces!

Next week on the blog, we’ll be sharing more details and pictures of the murals’ restoration. We’re excited to follow their progress!



Building update: Adding dimension and color

While students, staff and faculty have been adjusting to a new normal at K-State and within the community, work on Hale Library has continued at a rapid pace.

Libraries staff are ecstatic to see books back in the library. Stack A is now completely filled with books that have been cleaned, sorted and re-shelved. While the books will not be available to patrons immediately due to ongoing construction, it is still exciting to have books back in the library.

A picture of stack A completely filled with books.
Stack A is filled with books, thanks to the efforts of the Belfor team and Libraries staff!

With the third floor completely carpeted, crew members have started constructing furniture, such as study nooks behind the Friends of the K-State Libraries Instruction Room.

The inside of the Friends of the K-State Libraries Instruction Room, filled with carpet.
A glimpse inside the Friends of the K-State Libraries Instruction Room. While the room appears to be shaped like an ellipse on the outside, the inside is actually rectangular.
Study nooks have been constructed just out side of the Friends of the K-State Libraries Instruction Room.
Just outside the Friends of the K-State Libraries Instruction Room, study spaces have been installed for students to use. Libraries staff conducted assessment on the use of the first floor furniture and spaces and found that this design was popular with students. The assessment results were taken into account when deciding on furniture for the upper floors.

In the Great Room, the crew is working on painting decorative moldings and staining the bookshelves lining the room. The added color in the historic space is exciting to see. Art restoration specialists will officially start work on restoring the murals this week. We can’t wait to share pictures with you throughout the process!

The bookshelves that line the Great Room walls have been repaired and stained.
The bookshelves that line the Great Room walls have been repaired and stained. We love the beautiful finish!
A crew member works on painting the cornices in the Great Room.
A crew member works on painting the cornices in the Great Room.
A picture of the Great Room murals and bookshelves.
The John Canning company is scheduled to arrive with their equipment this week to begin the six week process of restoring the Great Room murals.
A picture of a corridor on the fourth floor of the building.
Looking toward the west end of the building, this is what a corridor on the fourth floor currently looks like.

Lastly, we wanted to share the exciting news that Joyce and Joe’s Cornerstone Cafe is officially open! The cafe, located on the first floor of Hale Library, is now offering grab n’ go options for patrons who want a snack while visiting the building. There are plans to expand to made-to-order options later in the semester.

We hope you’ll stop by for a visit and a bite to eat!

Building Update: A “Back to School” like never before

The fall semester has officially begun, and here at the Libraries we are especially excited to have students back in the building.

It has been both an exhilarating and challenging experience welcoming students and patrons back to the Libraries after the summer break. As our staff work hard to help patrons and students while prioritizing safety, we want to say thank you to library visitors who are following guidelines and doing their best to keep their fellow Wildcats safe. We are all learning together through these unprecedented times, and we appreciate visitors’ patience and positive attitudes regarding COVID-19 guidelines.

K-State students study on the first floor while wearing masks.
K-State students practice social distancing while studying in a nook on the first floor.
On the second floor, masked students study near the east end windows
On the second floor, masked students study near the east end windows.

We also are thrilled about the progress with the upper floors. While work on the fifth floor has mostly paused for the moment, the third and fourth floors have undergone a rather dramatic transformation in just the last few weeks alone. The third floor, in particular, looks very polished with brand new carpeting, ceiling tile and lighting. The fourth floor has received further plaster and ceiling work as well.

The third floor is now carpeted, with board walkways for crew members.
The main area of the third floor is now completely carpeted. The tan-colored walkways are boards that crew members use to get around the space to avoid walking on the carpet.
The area outside of the Friends of the K-State Libraries Instruction Room is carpeted as well.
The area outside of the Friends of the K-State Libraries Instruction Room is carpeted as well. In the future, this area will have more soft seating.
This is a recent picture of the second floor of the Innovation Lab, looking toward the Historic Farrell entrance.
This is a recent picture of the second floor of the Innovation Lab, looking toward the Historic Farrell entrance. As you can see, the space is really starting to take shape.
A picture of the fourth floor, still under heavy construction with dim lighting.
The fourth floor of the library is still under heavy construction, with crew members focusing on the replacement of pipes and 


Crew members work on repairing plaster in the fourth floor Academic Learning Center.
Crew members work on repairing plaster in the fourth floor Academic Learning Center. This area overlooks the event gallery space on the third floor.
A picture of the walls surrounding the Great Room murals, painted purple, cream and green.
The areas surrounding the Great Room murals have been painted with purple, cream and sage green. It is so exciting to see some fresh color come into the space!
A picture of a Great Room mural, with white cornices, or decorative moldings on either side.
There are three new cornices, or decorative moldings in the Great Room – one each at the east and west ends of the south wall, and one on the north wall. The other original cornices were cleaned and painted white. The plaster repair company took molds from the original cornices to create the three new ones.

It is heartening to see that despite the challenges the Libraries and K-State are facing this semester as a whole, people are still working together to create something beautiful and meaningful. We love seeing students explore the new spaces and hear their remarks on what they think of the renovation. Most of all, we relish the chance to remind them that while Hale Library might look pretty different, it is still a safe space for them to learn, and our staff’s mission to be of service has not changed.

Building update: Familiar spaces, new additions

We can’t believe that the start of fall semester is next week! Though we’ve encountered many challenges both on campus and throughout the community, the Libraries have forged ahead to ready the building for students as they return to campus and start classes.

Belfor team members stack boxes of books onto carts.
A very exciting piece of news is that the first load of books within the general collection has been moved back into the library! The sorted books were removed from boxes and put on the shelves within the stacks.
A picture of Kay Rieder and the Belfor team in front of shelves of books.
Kay Rieder, a Belfor team leader, poses with several team members in front of the first filled book shelf in Hale Library. Kay and her team have been extremely important to our success with the library materials since the fire two years ago.

Recently, the first floor of Hale Library reopened for the semester, along with the Math/Physics Library. This means that when students return to campus, they will have access to both floors of Hale Library and multiple resources to start classes strong. These resources include access to the IT and Library help desks, computer work stations, printers, study rooms and more.

The first floor of Hale Library looks even better now than it did when it first opened last fall. Joyce and Joe’s Cornerstone Café is nearly finished and has been filled with furniture. The new color-changing fireplace has been cause for much excitement. But don’t worry about the fire itself—it’s fake!

A picture of the cafe, filled with tables and soft seating.
The cafe furniture includes individual tables, a large high-top table and several soft seating areas near the fireplace.
Crew members work on welding the stairs within the Innovation Lab.
Workers are welding the staircase that connects the first and second floors of the future Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab.
A picture of construction equipment and materials within the digital media lab.
The interior rooms and work spaces within the Innovation Lab are being outfitted with new ceiling tile.

Much of the work on floors 1 through 3 the past week or so has revolved around installing carpeting and grinding metal stair pieces for staircases that are currently closed to the public. The third floor, in particular, has made significant progress.

The third floor, fleshed out with ceiling tiles.
The main area of the third floor is looking great and will be ready for carpet soon. This area will be filled with collections and study areas.
The west end of the third floor, with carpeting.
The west end of the third floor is now carpeted. We love how the third floor hallway has a modern look but still includes exposed limestone from the 1955 stacks addition!

It’s been an unusual summer here at the Libraries and K-State for certain, but we are excited to have students back in Hale Library and hope they fall in love with the new spaces as much as we have.

A worker on a lift paints the wall surrounding a Great Room mural.
A worker on a lift works begins to paint the wall surrounding one of the murals in the Great Room. The murals will be fully restored, with work starting this upcoming semester.

Building update: Sorting the collection and prepping the upper floors

As we inch closer and closer to the start of the fall semester, we wanted to share an update not just on the progress within Hale Library, but on the books that have been undergoing a rigorous cleaning and sorting process.

Our library materials have gone through quite the journey over the past two years. All materials had to be removed from the library, and each item had to go through a cleaning process. They were stored at various facilities including a restoration facility in Texas and several caves in Kansas City.

But now, the cleaned items are arriving back in Manhattan to be sorted. It’s quite a task…more than 147,000 boxes of books need to be reviewed for damage, sorted, and placed in call number order!

Boxes of books on wooden slats sit in one end of a big room.
The Libraries are using Executive Court as a sorting and staging area. We are grateful for the space to conduct this work!

For the past few weeks, Libraries staff, along with employees of Belfor, a disaster recovery and restoration company, have been unpacking and sorting books on temporary shelves set up at Executive Court. The books on the shelves need to be checked by staff to make sure they are in the correct order. We like to call this shelf reading! While time intensive, this is an important step to make sure that people can find the items they are looking for.

Dean Lori Goetch and other volunteers practice shelf reading.
Temporary shelves have been set up so that staff, including our very own Dean Lori Goetsch, can make sure the books are in the correct order.
A picture of Raymond Deiser working on the computer.
Raymond Deiser, library specialist, works on the computer to identify books that need extra help in getting to the right place on the shelves.

Thanks to dedicated staff, the book sorting is going well! We hope to begin reshelving books in Hale Library in August, though items won’t be immediately available for use in part due to ongoing construction.

Construction in the library is also going at a good clip, and the upper floors are starting to come together.

A construction worker is seen on the other side of an arched doorway.
Work continues on the Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab. Here a construction worker can be seen through one of the historical arched doorways on the first floor.
A man walks through a doorway. To the right is a wall of limestone.
Historical details are highlighted through the building. Exposed limestone walls can be seen in several locations including outside the east entrance to the Great Room.
Several arched windows and concrete floors in Hale Library.
The third floor is looking more prepped and ready everyday. The east end of the third floor will include several study tables with lots of natural light from the arched windows.
The Dean of the Libraries looks over a railing in Hale Library.
Up on the fourth floor, the ceiling overlooking the new third floor exhibit space is ready for drywall. Dean Lori Goetsch looks down to the new exhibit space. The “We Are the Dream Mural” will go back on the wall directly in front of Dean Goetsch in the Academic Learning Center.
A picture of a classroom on the fifth floor under construction.
The Kenneth S. Davis Seminar Room in the Morse Department of Special Collections is taking shape. This new addition will allow our Special Collections staff to provide instruction with their materials in a separate space from their reading room, which is often occupied by researchers. 

Right now, we anticipate that floors three through five, as well as the Historical Farrell Library portions, will be opened to the public early next spring semester. It’s been very exciting to see the upper floors progress, and we can’t wait until we can share them with the community.

Building update: A new normal

It’s exciting to have people back in Hale Library! With the opening of the second floor, we are working to adjust to a new sort of normal on campus and at the Libraries, while keeping visitors safe.

A picture of the loggia entrance of Hale Library, with COVID-19 related signs.
Visitors to the second floor of Hale Library enter through the loggia entrance, where there are signs to help inform them about safety guidelines.

Our staff have many safety features in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, including required use of masks, extra cleaning supplies available to patrons and limited seating areas and computer stations. It has been very exciting to see people come into the space to walk around and explore the new floor.

A picture of the help desks in the center of the second floor of the library.
The IT and Library Help Desks on the second floor have floor signs to help encourage social distancing.
Two students are pictured sitting and studying in the library.
On July 1, students came by the library to check out the new space and take some time to study. It’s great to see students back in Hale Library!
A picture of Kim Bugbee with her mask on, sitting in the loggia entrance.
Kim Bugbee, user services specialist, helped greet visitors to the library in the loggia entrance. The entire library user services team helped make sure that visitors knew where to go and how to follow safety precautions.
A picture of Libraries IT staff at a computer.
Our Libraries IT staff have also been working hard to make sure our technology is up and running.

In the Great Room, crew members are primarily focused on stripping and varnishing the bookshelves in the alcoves, as well as sanding the windowsills and completing any outstanding plaster work.

A picture of Brian Hawk varnishing wood near a Great Room window.
Bryan Hauck, a Riley Construction crew member, works on varnishing wood in the Great Room. Hawk was excited to work in the space and told us that his mother used to work in the basement of Hale Library. What a neat connection!
A picture of stripped bookshelves in the Great Room.
Before being varnished, the bookshelves are repaired and stripped.
A picture of varnished wood laid out along the length of the Great Room.
The varnished pieces of the bookshelves are laid out along the length of the Great Room to dry.
A picture of a Great Room window and construction workbench.
Even under construction, there is so much beauty in the Great Room.

We are particularly excited about Joyce and Joe’s Cornerstone Café located in the Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons on the first floor. The café is close to completion and the temporary walls separating the café from the rest of the floor have been taken down. The first floor will be open during the fall semester, but plans are still being finalized for the opening of the café, which will be run by K-State Housing and Dining Services.

A picture of the new cafe on the first floor of the library.
We can’t wait for students and the community to have a cozy place to study and grab a cup of coffee!

Building update: Jumping into July

As we jump into July, a lot of changes are coming to Hale Library. Besides the continuation of construction and progress on the building, the library will also welcome the public back for the first time since early March.

Starting July 1, the second floor of Hale Library will be open to visitors. Patrons must wear a mask or facial covering and practice social distancing while in the building. Services offered include access to the help desks, course reserves and computers. Extra steps will also be taken to promote safety and keep the environment clean. You can learn more about the reopening at our continuation of services page.

While the second floor will open to the public, the remaining floors continue to undergo a vigorous and rapid transformation.

In Joyce and Joe’s Cornerstone Café, the tile behind the counters was installed, and the fireplace was completed.

A picture of the fireplace inside the cafe.
The “flames” in the fireplace do not produce any heat, but they do change colors and will provide a comfy atmosphere. Safety first!
A picture of the faux marble counter in the cafe.
Behind the cafe’s front counter, tile was added in a geometric design.

The Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab is undergoing more plaster work and drywall installation. The specific rooms for equipment and varying labs are starting to take shape—it’s only a matter of time until we can start moving in some tech!

This picture shows the view from the middle of the first floor of the Innovation Lab, looking toward the entrance to Historic Farrell Library.
This picture shows the view from the middle of the first floor of the Innovation Lab, looking toward the entrance to Historic Farrell Library.

In the Great Room, the protective boxes have been removed from the murals so that workers can perform plaster work around the edges. Removal of the boxes will also allow art restoration professionals to begin work on the murals later this fall.

A picture of the west end of the Great Room.
The view of the west end of the Great Room from the fourth floor balcony is fantastic! On the left hand side, you can see one of the decorative columns that span throughout the room.
A picture of the covered murals.
The murals are still covered to protect them while the crew continues plaster work around the edges.

The Virginia Carlson Family Reading Room will house the juvenile literature and curriculum materials collections. Virginia Carlson was a graduate of Kansas State College in 1952, a librarian and teacher. Virginia’s family has studied in Hale Library for more than four generations and they have invested in the building to honor her legacy. We are extremely grateful for their generosity!

A picture of the Virginia Carlson entrance.
A new entrance into the Virginia Carlson Family Reading Room is under construction.
A picture of the wall ornament in Historic Farrell Library.
During construction and plaster work in Historic Farrell Library, several interesting architectural details have become more noticeable. Here, you can see a wall ornament on the first floor.
A picture of a crew member working on a lift outside the library.
Late last month, crew members also worked on fixing the seals on several external windows in the building. It’s good to make sure that the cool air stays in during these warm summer days!

The Libraries plan to have the first and second floors open to students and the community at the start of the fall semester, with the upper floors opening collectively in early spring of 2021. Keep an eye on this blog for more stories and updates as we get closer to the new school year!

Top 10 Blog Posts

A graphic that says, "Hale Library Top 10 Blog Post"

This week, we thought it would be interesting to look back at all the stories and updates we’ve posted in the last two years and share the top ten most viewed blog posts. A lot of progress has been made since the 2018 fire in Hale Library, and it is rewarding to see what stories have most resonated with the community following our story.

Below are the top ten most popular blog posts we’ve ever published, along with a quick synopsis of what each post focuses on. Feel free to click around and explore!

#1: After the Hale Library Fire: What’s past is prologue

This was our blog’s very first post, written just a few short weeks after the fire in Hale Library. In the aftermath of the fire, it quickly became apparent to us that we would have quite a story to share, and that the community wanted information about what happened to the library. We also knew people would want to see progress as we began the long journey to restore the building. In this first post, we shared the details of the fire, the heroic actions of the first responders who worked to save the library and pictures of leadership surveying the smoke and water damage.

A picture of Manhattan firefighters on the roof of the library.
Manhattan firefighters on the roof of Hale Library as the sun sets on May 22, 2018. Photo courtesy Manhattan Fire Department.

#2: Hale Library: Week five update

Another early post, this entry shared more pictures of the library after much of the damage had been surveyed. During this time, construction revolved mainly around demolition and removing damaged ceiling, dry wall and carpeting. A lot of the technology and furniture was damaged from soot and had to be disposed of as well.

A picture of a broken pillar decoration on a damaged table.
The Great Room tables sustained a significant amount of water damage from the 2018 fire. Unfortunately, they could not be salvaged.

#3: Building update: We’re in full swing!

This spring, we shared new photos of some of the spaces in Hale Library that were near to completion. This included Joyce and Joe’s Cornerstone Café. We also highlighted the Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab and efforts by the Digital Fabrication Lab to create face shields for local healthcare workers battling COVID-19.

A picture of Jahvelle Rhone holding a face shield.
Jahvelle Rhone, media coordinator for the Media Center, holds a newly 3D-printed face shield. Jahvelle and the K-State Digital Fabrication Club have been using 3D printers to create these face shields for local healthcare workers.

#4: What happens to wet books?

After the fire, the books in Hale Library sustained damage from water and soot. The wet books underwent a very delicate and special process to prepare them for transportation to a cleaning facility in Texas. Check out this post to learn more about how wet books are saved.

A picture of many boxes filled with books.
The wet books sat in the Housing and Dining Services freezer before they were transported to Ft. Worth, Texas for cleaning.

#5: Exploring alternative study spots with Brenna

The fire in Hale Library made it impossible for students to continue studying in the building. Students were suddenly looking for new places across campus to study, and so we worked with a student, Brenna, to share good study spots that students could make use of while Hale Library was unavailable.

#6: Building Update: Taking Things to the Next Level

We shared this post just a few weeks before the pandemic hit—at the time, we were all prepped for the second floor to open. As such, this post mainly shares photos of the second floor being outfitted with soft seating and computer spaces. We also shared pictures of the lattice work wood ceiling being finalized in the Great Room.

A picture of the Great Room ceiling woodwork.
In February, most of the Great Room ceiling woodwork was completed, including the tresses and purlins.

#7: Hale Library featured on “Rescue Heroes”

In January of 2019, Hale Library and the emergency first responders who responded to the fire were profiled in “Rescue Heroes: Global Response Team.” The episode gives an overview of the fire, including interviews from rescue and recovery personnel, students and faculty. You can watch the segment highlighting Hale Library at the YouTube video we link to in the post.

#8: Building Update: It’s all about the atmosphere

In late April, we shared a building update about further progress on the library. The scaffolding in the Great Room came down around that time and the wooden ceiling was completed. Purple lighting was also installed throughout the first and second floors of the building.

A picture of the Great Room lighting from the balcony.
From the fourth floor balcony within the Great Room, you get a great view of the completed ceiling woodwork and the new lighting.

#9: After the Fire: Where are they now?

After the fire, more than 80 K-State Libraries staff and faculty were left without access to an office space. Thankfully, more than 13 offices and departments graciously welcomed our staff into temporary work spaces. In this post, we shared photos about where everybody ended up.

#10: Giving thanks for the Manhattan Fire Department and all first responders

Close to the Thanksgiving holiday in 2018, K-State Libraries staff visited the Manhattan Fire Department Headquarters to say thank you for their work in saving Hale Library. The post features some of the firefighters who helped combat the fire, along with photos of them in action.

A picture of a fire engine in front of Hale Library.
A fire engine extends its ladder onto the northwest corner of Historic Farrell Library. May 22, 2018.

Building Update: the upper floors

As summer approaches, we are closely following the rapid progress being made in Hale Library. This week, we’d like to highlight sections of the library that you might not have seen recent photos of, particularly the upper floors.

But first, an exciting update regarding the Great Room: the original bookshelves that were in the east and west alcoves are undergoing a vigorous repair process!

A picture of crew members repairing bookshelves.
Crew members repair the wooden bookshelves against the walls in the east and west alcoves in the Great Room.
A picture of a crew member varnishing bookshelves.
After the bookshelves are repaired, they are stripped and then varnished by hand. They look beautiful!

In other areas of Historic Farrell Library, further plaster work is being done on the first and second floors. In order to score the plaster, the radiators had to be pulled out. However, they will be repainted and eventually put back into place.

A picture of crew members working around a group of radiators.
The radiators have been pulled out from the wall and will be repainted before being put back into place. In the right hand corner, you can see crew members working on the plaster where the radiators were.
A picture of the third floor hallway, with the ellipse instruction room on the left.
On the left, you can see the ellipse shaped room, which will be a large instruction space made possible by The Friends of the K-State Libraries. On the right are future office spaces. The third floor will also have more books, giving it a more traditional library atmosphere.

Also on the third floor, work continues on multiple office spaces and the graduate student study rooms, located near the entrance to the Great Room. The study rooms will be in the same location they were previously, but they will be much improved.

A picture of the graduate student study rooms space.
The graduate student study rooms on the third floor provide a quiet study space specifically for graduate students.

The Academic Learning Center (ALC) on the fourth floor is also coming along. The ALC is a partnership between K-State Libraries and K-State Athletics that provides space for student athletes to receive academic support, including one-on-one tutoring.

A picture of the ALC overlook balcony.
The entrance to the ALC on the fourth floor overlooks the foyer outside the Great Room which will include a new exhibit space. The “We Are the Dream” mural that was located on the back wall of the ALC has been taken down, cleaned and restored. Once construction is complete, it will return to its original location.

On the fifth floor, mobile shelving is being removed in the Special Collections space in order to replace the mechanical system that moves the shelving units. The system is under the wood flooring and was damaged during the fire.

A picture of a room filled with white shelving units.
The white shelves in the space will actually be re-installed once the system is up and running. We are looking forward to having Special Collections return to this space.

As construction continues on these spaces, the Libraries are also working on a plan to reopen the completed areas of the building later this summer. Keep an eye on our website and the Libraries’ social media feeds for more information as it becomes available.

Rising from the ashes: the two-year anniversary of the Hale Library fire

A graphic that says "Hale Library 2 Years After the Fire"

Two years ago, on May 22, 2018 at 4 p.m., things at Hale Library changed forever.

The fire and the resulting damage from water and smoke impacted several sections of the library, including Historic Farrell Library and the Great Room. As a result, nearly 130 employees found themselves out of their regular workspace and into more than 13 temporary work spaces throughout campus.

As a way of recognizing the immense progress that has been made in the two years since the fire, we wanted to share photos that show the tremendous progress we’ve made. As we get closer and closer to completing the renovation and restoration of the library, we hope you find as much inspiration from these photos as we do.

A picture of the Great Room, damaged, with water on the floor.
The West end of the Great Room, two days after the fire on May 22, 2018. Most of the damage to the library was a result of the heavy smoke that traveled throughout the building and the water used to extinguish the fire.
A picture of the Great Room currently, under renovation.
The West end of the Great Room today, after significant restoration efforts. All the wood beams from the ceiling were taken down, repaired, restored and then put back in the exact same spot.
A picture of a damaged acorn finial.
The acorns in the Great Room were in strong need of repair following the fire.
A picture of repaired acorn finials hanging from the ceiling.
The acorn finials were repaired and varnished to get them in shape for being reattached to the ceiling.

The catastrophic damage to the library was a hit to the entire K-State community, as Hale Library is often viewed as the heart of campus, and a place where everyone is welcome to share a quiet moment of reflection or study. At the time, it seemed that the incredible task of restoring the 550,000-square-foot building would be the greatest challenge the library and its staff have ever faced.

Two pictures side by side of the murals and holes in the ceiling following the fire.
On the left, a hole in the Great Room ceiling is shown where the fire broke through into the room, taken June 28, 2018. Today, boxes cover the Great Room murals to protect them during construction. The murals are stable and will be restored after all construction is complete.

But now, two years later, the challenge lies not in finishing the restoration of Hale Library, but in preparing for what comes next.

Despite the impact of COVID-19, construction continues on Hale Library at a rapid pace. Every week, the changes at the library become more and more visible—we would say that the library is starting to look like its old self again, but that wouldn’t be true. Instead, Hale Library is beginning to look like its new best self, a mix of the historic and the future.

On the first and second floors, the Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab begins to take shape, introducing a creative space that will open new doors for students and patrons as they tackle projects with the latest technologies. On the third floor, the historic Great Room is being restored to its former glory, but the acorn finials hanging from the ceiling are newly varnished, the murals are being repaired with the latest restoration techniques and desperately needed electrical updates flow throughout the space. Similarly, the first and second floors of Historic Farrell Library will also be restored to showcase their beautiful architectural details, but the spaces will have new purpose as they house distinctive collections and comfortable study space with plenty of natural light.

A picture of the first floor, full of damaged furniture.
This was what the first floor looked like on June 11, 2018; much of the furniture was temporarily stored on the first floor.
A picture of student studying on the renovated first floor.
Students were able to experience the new first floor which opened last fall. The Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons is a collaborative space with technology enabled group study rooms, open seating and so many whiteboards.

It’s these changes and more, that are beginning to reveal a next generation library.

A picture of covered furniture on the second floor.
The state of the second floor on June 14, 2018; furniture is covered with plastic wrap and being removed.
A picture of the renovated second floor.
The new second floor was completed this spring, and holds 99 computer stations for community use.
A side by side shot of the second floor sunflower window overlook; one is full of drainage tubes, the other with soft seating.
In June 2018, the second floor entrance was swarmed with white tubes that helped circulate air and dehumidify the building. Today, this second floor space has been repurposed into a “living room” area, complete with soft seating where students can enjoy this beautiful arched window.

We want to say a huge thank you to the library and IT staff for their patience throughout this journey, as well as their unwavering dedication to continuing to provide quality service to the community. We also want to extend our gratitude to the entire K-State community for their endless support.

In a year from now, on the third anniversary, it’s exciting to think about what it will be like in Hale Library. By then, the full library is expected to be open to the public and students and staff will once again have a place on campus to call home. The ability to see the light at the end of the tunnel is keeping our staff, in particular, positive and resilient. We also hope that by then, life will have returned to some kind of normalcy for us all.

It hasn’t been an easy road to restore Hale Library, nor has it been a short one. But we’re confident that the results will be well worth the wait.

Building update: We’re in full swing!

Spring is in full swing and we’re excited to share pictures of how things are growing at Hale Library!

Many projects are being fleshed out further and some spaces, including the Great Room, Joyce and Joe’s Cornerstone Café and the Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab are visibly coming together. The Innovation Lab in particular is starting to take shape as crew members install drywall and create the rooms that will house technologies new to the library and campus.

A picture of the case coming along.
Various kitchen equipment has been installed in the cafe including refrigerators and reach-in coolers. With the counters now installed as well, this space is really coming together!

The Innovation Lab will be available to all students, staff and faculty at K-State, giving them access to new technologies such as digital media production, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, immersive digital environments and other emerging innovations. The lab will be located on the first and second floors of the library with a staircase connecting the two spaces.

The space also will include 14 3D printers, a Glowforge laser cutter and a studio that will allow users to record high-quality video with a single touch of a button. Two of the 3D printers will be FormLab SLA printers; these printers use ultraviolet light to create a strong but flexible resin often used for healthcare or engineering materials. The remaining 12 Ultimaker printers create materials by stacking melted material layer by layer.

A picture of Jahvelle Rhone holding a face shield.
Jahvelle Rhone, the media coordinator for the Media Center, holds a newly 3D-printed face shield. Jahvelle and the K-State Digital Fabrication Club have been using 3D printers to create these face shields for local healthcare workers.
A picture of Jahvelle Rhone and his family.
The whole family has been helping Jahvelle! Here, Jahvelle, his four children and his wife TeAndre show off the face shields they’ve been making. The DigiFab club has made more than 175 face shields so far to help local healthcare workers stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A picture of the digital media lab space, under construction.
This will be the new digital media lab. This space will be filled with computers containing various software including the same software that Disney animators use to create their works.
A picture of the future 3D print lab space.
This space located on the second floor of the Innovation Lab will host our 3D print lab with 14 3D printers.

The virtual reality room will allow visitors to explore their projects using 3D technology. For example, an architecture student would be able to view a 3D rendering of a building project as if it were right in front of them.

A picture of the future virtual reality lab space.
Three large screens will be installed in the virtual reality room on the first floor. In this picture, the pale yellow wall in the middle will hold the middle screen.
A picture of the future one-button lab space.
Work continues on the one-button studio, which will allow users to record high-quality video with a single touch of a button.

Crew members are continuing plaster work on the Great Room and installing light fixtures. With every new day, the space is looking more and more trim and polished!

A picture of the Great Room walls covered in pink adhesive material.
The pink material on the walls in the Great Room is a special bonding material that allows for better bonding between plaster and plaster, or concrete and concrete.
A picture of crew members working on plaster in the Great Room.
Several crew members focus on repairing plaster in the Great Room.
A picture of a crew member with ceiling lights grouped on the floor.
The white cylinders on the ground are actually ceiling lights for the Great Room; they sure do look bigger when they’re on the ground!

We hope you enjoy seeing the progress in Hale Library as much as we do, and we are thrilled that we are able to obtain regular photos to share with the K-State community. Our next blog post will be an extra special one, as we look at the immense amount of progress that has been made since the Hale Library fire nearly two years ago. Stay tuned!

Building Update: It’s all about the atmosphere

Things in Hale Library are starting to lighten up! Many lights are being installed throughout the building and overall, things are definitely starting to come together. Work continues on Historic Farrell Library and along with the new, modern parts of the library, the spirit of Hale Library is starting to visually come alive.

Firstly though, we wanted to address that we’ve received questions regarding the reported collapse on the third floor of the library. We want to assure the community that there was no damage to the library structure. A small section of a stairwell was being in-filled with concrete to create additional floor space on the fourth floor and during the process, the form system became unstable and fell to the floor below.

That event aside, work continues in a very positive direction and we’re excited to share with you our latest photos from the building interior.

A picture of spacers being installed in the cafe flooring.
Joyce and Joe’s Cornerstone Café is coming along at a fast pace. The wooden ceiling has been completely painted black and they are working on installing the tile for the floor. The wooden counters for the café also arrived and are being installed.
A picture of a crew member installing tile in the cafe.
In the background, you can see the special purple soft lighting that is being installed near the ceiling in a few parts of the library. We love that royal purple!
A picture of the counters being installed in the cafe.
Crew members are currently working on the cafe counter area.

The scaffolding in the Great Room has been completely removed and workers are using lifts to install new lights throughout the ceiling. A few of the workmen mentioned they almost wish the scaffolding was still there, since the ceiling is so high! Now that the scaffolding is out of the way, the crew is also working on removing boards from the windows and repairing plaster along the walls.

A picture of the Great Room ceiling.
From the fourth floor balcony, you get a great view of the completed ceiling woodwork and the new lighting.
A picture of the empty Great Room, without scaffolding.
Now that the scaffolding has been removed, it’s easy to see the ceiling and get a sense of how much progress has been made.
A picture of a crew member in the Great Room using a lift.
A crew member uses a lift to reach the ceiling and install new lights.
A picture of crew members using a lift for plaster work.
Crew members have started to repair the plaster throughout the Great Room.

The new purple soft lighting can be seen in multiple spots near the ceiling around the second floor, including near the lobby area and printers, above the help desks and along a section of the study area. Some of the lighting will serve as a back light for lettering; for example, lettering above the help desks and on the first floor, behind lettering for the Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons.

A picture of purple lighting above the IT and library help desks.
Soft purple lighting appears above the new library and IT help desks located centrally on the second floor.

We are extraordinary thankful to the Hutton team members for working hard to restore the library, and thrilled to be able to share frequent photo updates with the community. We want you to share the pride we have in this beautiful building!

Building Update: The work continues

Campus might be especially quiet right now, but inside Hale Library, things are anything but quiet.

Right now, construction continues on the building, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the lack of patrons in the building has led to things moving faster than anticipated in some areas. Work on Joyce and Joe’s Cornerstone Cafe on the first floor is moving very rapidly, the second floor is completely finished and furnished, and very soon, the scaffolding in the Great Room will be completely removed, revealing a refurbished, beautifully restored wooden ceiling.

This is a picture of the West end of the Great Room.
The woodwork in the Great Room is finished and crews have started removing the scaffolding supporting the West end of the dance floor.
This is a picture of the Great Room and the mural boxes.
About a third of the scaffolding that supports the dance floor has been removed. To the right, you can see the constructed boxes built to cover and protect the four murals.
This is a picture of the lights on the Great Room ceiling.
New lights have been added to the flat portion of the ceiling at the West end of the Great Room.
This is a picture of the main lobby on the second floor of Hale Library.
New shelving is being built behind the library and IT help desks on the second floor. The help desks are centrally located and will be a one-stop shop for library visitors who have questions and need assistance.

The café on the first floor, which will be managed by K-State Housing and Dining Services, will provide a comfortable space for visitors to grab a coffee and meet with others. Construction crews have completed the fireplace and taken down the temporary walls; next, work will begin on the cooler and the kitchen itself. The café counter and the kitchen equipment will be installed later this month.

This is a picture of the cafe ceiling.
A fun fact about the grid work ceiling of the café: the wood is refurbished and repainted wood salvaged from the Hale Library. The wood was painted with four coats of grey paint—two coats by hand and two by spray so that they covered all the angles.

Our Libraries staff are also hard at work behind the scenes to provide students, staff and faculty with the academic resources they need while being away from campus. While people can’t access physical textbooks, journals and books right now, our interlibrary loan staff are busy filling requests by sending scanned articles and book chapters to patrons electronically. We are so grateful for our hardworking staff, and glad we have the ability to help our community access the information they need.

Things are hopping over at the K-State Libraries Annex, an offsite storage unit where many books and items are held.

This is a picture of Denny Ryan using a scissor lift.
Denny Ryan, Annex collection coordinator, uses a scissor lift to reach materials up high on the Annex shelves. Ryan will then scan the articles and book chapters requested by K-State faculty, staff and students.

During Spring Break and before campus moved to limited operations, our Library User Services team spent a day moving all the course reserves textbooks in the Student Union back into Hale Library.

This is a picture of people loading book carts onto a moving truck.
Movers and the Library User Services team loaded more than 5,000 books and materials into a truck, which then backed up all the way to the loggia entrance of Hale Library.
This is a picture of library staff moving book carts around the second floor of Hale Library.
Moving the more than 5,000 books and materials was no easy task, but the Library User Services team had smiles on their faces and were very excited to move the first books back into the library.

Construction is expected to continue on Hale Library for the foreseen future. The crew is taking precautions by following appropriate social-distancing standards and holding meetings outdoors in good weather or in larger indoor spaces to maintain space. There also are fewer workers than there were previously. All in all, things are moving at a fast pace and we are excited to share more photos as the library progresses!

New challenges, same objective

When students arrive at June Orientation and Enrollment before they begin their first semester at K-State, there’s one thing we want to make sure they know: We are here to help. We tell them that they don’t need to fumble through the hundreds of databases available, or stress out about what keywords to use to find the research they need. That’s why we are here.

This message has perhaps never been as relevant as it is today. As students return to their classes this week, now in an online format, we know that there will be added stress. Now, more than ever, we want you to know that you should not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help.

Our librarians and staff are working remotely and are available to answer your research questions or to provide help with using online resources. Chat services will be available Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For general questions, use our Ask A Librarian service; you can also contact your subject librarian by email.

Stephanie working from home, with her toddler playing nearby.
Stephanie Kiersey, a user services specialist, works alongside her little one. Stephanie helps answer questions from users on our chat service and through email. Our staff sure have some cute new coworkers!
Sara seated at her computer, working from home.
Sara Kearns, an academic services librarian, suggests that students try our Ask a Librarian service if they have issues finding a book or article. “Physical materials, like books, are going to be harder to get, but we may know of workarounds or alternative sources,” Kearns said.

K-State librarians have also created handy research guides. These guides are divided by subject and can help you navigate the best ways to find articles and research related to your class. They’ve also created a guide specifically for instructors with information about incorporating Libraries resources into Canvas.

A photo of Daniel with his cat.
Dan Ireton, an academic services librarian, shows off a very serious Spartacus. Dan, along with our other subject specialists, continue to work with both students and faculty remotely from their home.

Our staff are also working to make sure that you continue to have access to our online materials. Several resources are available online for research and can be accessed remotely. Some resources will require users to log in with their K-State E-ID and passwords.

Christina Geuther, electronic resources librarian, is working from home with her sweet coworkers, Frida and Heidi. Christina helps make sure our online resources and databases are working properly and negotiates licenses with publishers.

Our Interlibrary Loan staff will continue to process requests for articles and books chapters for electronic delivery. Our ability to fill requests is heavily dependent on the operations of other libraries, many of which are also reducing their operations, but we are working very hard to fulfill as many requests as we can.

We can also scan chapters from our textbook collection. To place a request for a chapter of a textbook, use the Interlibrary Loan request form. We will work to get you a scanned copy either from our collection or another library. If you don’t have your textbook, you might also check RedShelf. The K-State Campus Store is partnering with RedShelf to provide access to up to 7 e-textbooks.

A picture of McKenna holding her dog, Molly.
McKenna Lueger is a senior in graphic design and also works for the Libraries. She is working at home with her new “coworker,” Molly. McKenna said she encourages her fellow students to try Interlibrary Loan to access materials because it is really easy.

Additionally, if you have questions about copyright or fair use during this time of transition our librarians in the Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship are also working from home to help answer any questions you might have.

A picture of Ryan smiling at his home workstation.
Ryan Otto is a digital scholarship librarian in the Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship. In addition to other services, Ryan also continues to support the K-State Research Exchange or K-REx, which makes K-State’s scholarly works more widely available.

Our continuation of Libraries services webpage has more information about our resources during the university’s limited operations status. As we move through the uncertainty ahead, we will continue to keep you updated through this blog as much as we can. While construction continues on Hale Library, our ability to obtain photos of the progress will be limited. We will continue to post updates, but they may not come out quite as often. In the meantime, remember that we are still here, and we are ready to help in any way we can.

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.

A picture of the loggia entrance.
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.

Wishbone-shaped supports for the computer stations.
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.
IT staff working on setting up the computer stations.
Setting up the wiring for the computer stations is a handful!
A picture of the completed computer stations.
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.
A crew member working on replacing the lattice woodwork in the Great Room.
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.

A picture of the Great Room ceiling woodwork.
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.

A picture of the first floor of Historic Farrell Library.
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!
A picture of the carved columns in Historic Farrell Library.
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.

Maps hanging up for the ozoning process.
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.