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Hale Library Blog

Author: Cailin Riley

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

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.
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.
The acorns in the Great Room were in strong need of repair following the fire.
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.

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.

This was what the first floor looked like on June 11, 2018; much of the furniture was temporarily stored on the 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.

The state of the second floor on June 14, 2018; furniture is covered with plastic wrap and being removed.
The new second floor was completed this spring, and holds 99 computer stations for community use.
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.

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.

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.
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.
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.
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.

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.
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!

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.
Several crew members focus on repairing plaster in the Great Room.
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.

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.
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!
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.

From the fourth floor balcony, you get a great view of the completed ceiling woodwork and the new lighting.
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 crew member uses a lift to reach the ceiling and install new lights.
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.

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.

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.