It’s done! Thanks to hundreds of workers putting in thousands of hours, more than 1.5 million collection items have been packed out of Hale Library. The herculean effort was completed on September 20, a little less than 17 weeks after the fire.
Maybe you work with objects in quantities of 1.5 million on a regular basis and can easily wrap your head around how big this project was. But if that’s not the case, we’ve crafted some comparisons to help everyone visualize the scope of the situation.
If each item measures 10 inches long and there are 5,280 feet in a mile, then all of Hale Library’s 1.5 million collection items laid end-to-end would stretch from Manhattan to Tulsa, Okla.
So how did this massive pack-out all start? The first things to leave Hale Library after the May 22 fire were the wet materials in Room 117.
Those 4,000 boxes of wet books were shipped in refrigerated trucks to a Belfor preservation lab in Ft. Worth, Tex. The materials were freeze-dried, cleaned and treated with ozone. More than ninety percent were deemed salvageable.
After the wet books were safely out of the building, volumes from second, third and fourth floors were packed up.
The last items to leave Hale Library came out of the Richard L. D. & Marjorie Morse Department of Special Collections on the fifth floor.
So from beginning to end, the pack-out started in late May on the hot, humid first floor, and it ended in late September in a chilly, air-conditioned Stack H, just above Hale Library’s fourth floor.
Kathryn Talbot, K-State Libraries’ preservation coordinator, at work in the stacks. July 5, 2018.
Does that give you a better idea of how big this project was? No?
Here’s another story problem: If 15 books fit in each box, and 40 boxes were stacked on one pallet, and 24 pallets were packed onto every truckload that left Hale Library, then the 1.5 million items required 104 semi trucks.
Until Hale Library is renovated, all of the books—approximately 147,400 boxes of them—will be stored in four different air-conditioned warehouses across the region. Because of the soot damage, books will be individually cleaned, re-boxed and stored until they can be returned to campus.
It is a huge relief to have the entire collection safely out of the building and know that it will come home to a new, improved Hale Library.
Thank you to everyone who worked on this project. We hope you can take a few days off to catch your breath: You deserve a break before you start planning how we’ll move it all back!
Original infographics created by Katherine Kistler, K-State Libraries graphic design student employee.
As we walk across campus, we’re often stopped by fellow K-Staters and asked, “So how are you all doing?” Truly, we’ve appreciated the expressions of concern for the 100+ displaced Hale Library folks.
On that note, we thought we’d catch up with four of our co-workers who share a combined 80 years of experience with K-State Libraries.
After all of the computers and printers were lost in the fire, Renee Gates was responsible for getting more than 90 employees set up with new technology. She and her team also travel between a dozen different buildings on campus to make sure everything continues to work smoothly.
Renee, two of the four staff members on your team left Manhattan to pursue new job opportunities this summer. How are you doing?
“Everybody has been really nice and patient with us. They understand we are short-staffed.
In addition to getting everyone set up on new technology, we’re doing a lot of inventory of the tech that was in an area of Hale Library that was declared clean or cleanable. Everything has to be plugged in and tested to make sure it works. Some things don’t because of internal issues like the effects of condensation.
After the fire, I think in many ways our department had it a lot easier than other people. We had the most to do initially, but we were connected, we knew what was going on, and we had purpose. I think there was a lot more anxiety for people who weren’t as busy as we were. So that busyness helped get us through.
I love that we have space in Seaton Hall that is just our LIST staff and we can easily talk to each other without disturbing anyone else. I miss everybody from the library, though.”
Dan, what do you remember about the day of the fire?
“I was in my office, and my 15-year-old son was with me because he was out early that day and doing homework on a computer. We had this history in Hale Library that the fire alarms were sensitive to dust. One summer it seemed like a fire alarm went off every week. So the alarm goes off and it’s like, ‘Eh, okay, well… it’s the end of the day.’ So I scooped up my stuff. And I remember thinking so clearly, ‘Do I need my laptop tonight? Nah, I’ll get it in the morning,’ and I left it and we went home.
An hour later, I’m hearing from people, ‘Did you see the fire?’ And I was like, ‘There was an actual fire?!’ I went back, and people were hanging around outside. Somebody had ordered pizza, and we watched sheets of water cascade down the side of the building and into Mid-Campus Drive.”
What’s different about your job since you aren’t working out of Hale Library?
“A couple of librarians and I have gotten office spaces within our respective disciplines, so I am in in Nichols Hall with the Theater Department. I’ve tried to become more entrenched with their faculty and students, and that’s been great. I see them every day, and it’s very easy for them to find me and for me to be a resource for them because I’m physically there right now.
The thing I miss most are the collections, though. For example, theater is very practice-based. A lot of it is producing creative works based off of scripts and physical materials. While there are some fantastic online resources, it’s left a hole for my students when they go looking for scripts. You really want something physical in your hands for that, even when you’re trying to select scenes.”
How has your job changed?
“Part of our work is to make sure that when a K-Stater is off-campus that they can access all of the databases and online resources that the Libraries pay for by simply signing in with their K-State username and password.
The proxy system that makes that happen seamlessly was lost when the servers had to be taken offline after the fire. Fortunately, the Libraries’ IT department had been preparing to move the system to the cloud, so they were able to have up a new version within just a few days. Once it was rebuilt, our team spent the summer making sure that the new proxy system was working for hundreds of online resources. These materials are especially important now since the physical collection isn’t available. We’ve been very, very busy.”
This isn’t your first time working out of the Unger Complex, is it?
“Three of us were located in this exact same office when Hale Library was being built in the ’90s. Everyone here has been really friendly and helpful, and whatever we need they try to make it happen. It’s just kind of weird déjà vu!”
What do you remember from the day of the fire?
“The fire alarm went off at 3:58, and we just thought it was a normal fire alarm, so I picked up my purse and went to my exercise class. When we got out, we could smell smoke and hear the sirens. People were going ‘Yeah, the library is on fire.’ Then I got home and had all these messages on my answering machine, asking if I was okay.
After the fire, I emailed each patron that had anything checked out. What was great was that a lot of people emailed back, and they were so supportive. That was the really nice thing: I had a lot of personal contact with patrons on email.”
How is life different now?
“I miss seeing all of the people that I worked with on a daily basis. I mean, I still go over to the union and see people but it’s different. I miss walking around in the stacks, seeing the actual books and seeing the students. I am excited about seeing the new Hale Library, though! I’m close to retiring, so this gives me a new reason to work long enough to see what the new Hale is going to look like.”
Like Carolyn, we are all excited to see what the future of Hale Library holds. We’re reminded, too, that libraries aren’t just about buildings—they’re about the people who work there, the people who use them and the people who believe in their value.
We know our blog readers fall into one or all of those categories. Thank you!
Interviews were conducted and transcribed by communication student employee Rebekah Branch. Transcriptions were edited for clarity and brevity.
We’ve witnessed a lot of things go down on the fourth floor of Hale Library over the years: students camping under tables with blankets and pillows during finals week; physical anthropology study sessions that featured skeletons and piles of bones; and, well, let’s be honest, we’ve seen some fourth-floor stacks activities we wish we hadn’t.
But we’ve never seen fourth floor as a woodworking shop … until now. A lot of materials — like the entire physical library collection and one of the murals — have been packed out so they can be cleaned and stored until Hale Library renovations are complete.
The Great Room woodwork is staying, though. Crews are cleaning and stripping the beams. Eventually, they’ll be refinished, and when the roof and ceiling are repaired and the space is ready for renovation, the beams will be reinstalled.
Crew members from John Canning Co. clean and remove varnish from two decorative arch braces that hung in the Great Room.
Meanwhile, back in the Great Room, conservators continue to monitor and stabilize the David Hicks Overmyer murals.
Additional mural restoration is on hold until two things happen: First, the plaster walls need to be more thoroughly dried out, and second, the rest of the Great Room restoration needs to be more advanced so that the murals aren’t re-damaged during that process.
To prevent the murals from getting damaged while the rest of the Great Room is renovated, conservators have covered them with a felt-like fabric that’s attached to a tack strip that runs around the perimeter of each painting.
Up above the murals, the Great Room’s decorative woodwork has been removed, and the ceiling has been completely torn out. Crews from Hutton Construction are moving in to start replacing the roof and ceiling in the 1927 building.
Elsewhere in Hale Library, most of the recent action has centered on cleaning toxic soot from all surfaces and scraping up the carpet glue. Since that process is nearly complete, the size of the Belfor Property Restoration crew has been scaled down.
Even though the Belfor folks are starting to leave Manhattan, they aren’t taking a break: As organizations across the Carolinas assess the devastation wrought by Hurricane Florence, Belfor will be on the ground with their massive semi-truck command center and their amazing people. We wish them a safe assignment as they begin recovery efforts there.
It’s been eighteen weeks of damage assessment and drying out, packing collections and planning. The space is a clean slate, and in forthcoming posts we’ll be able share a lot more about the Hale Library of the future.
We have only shared a small percentage of the thousands of photos that have been taken of Hale Library since May 22. This week we wanted to share a few more that are meaningful to us. Some are powerful illustrations of the reality of the devastation inside the building; others show how far we’ve come in the recovery process.
We’ve also included a few that are laden with memories and our hope for the future of Hale Library.
There’s one aspect of the recovery that’s hard to get across in these blog posts: It’s dark in there! We share photos that are as well-lit as possible, but in those instances, the light source isn’t Hale Library’s lights; they’re either natural light from the windows or temporary lighting.
The electrical infrastructure was seriously compromised, so the building is operating off of temporary construction power supplied by portable units rather than “house power.” As soon as you walk away from a space that’s lit up with construction lights … you’re in the dark. More than once the power has gone out on the workers removing the books from the stacks.
Fortunately, the building is nearly empty now. We’ve come a long way in the last sixteen weeks. The majority of the collection has been packed out, the duct work is completely clean, and the process of removing soot from all other hard surfaces is nearly complete.
Our services have been successfully relocated, too.
The reserves collection, which includes a lot of textbooks, was located behind Library Help on the second floor. Now students can access reserves at branch libraries and the new Library Help Desk at the K-State Student Union.
These days, the IT Help Desk is up and running in the Cat’s Pause Lounge on the top floor of K-State Student Union.
And those two sodden and sad locations in the photos above? They’re awaiting their next act!
The Harry Potter Room.
If you’ve been on campus since the first Potter film came out in 2001, you probably know what we’re talking about. The Great Room has inspired comparisons to the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies for nearly two decades. More than one student has said that just being there made them feel smarter and more focused.
Post-fire, it looked as if the Harry Potter Room had a brush with some dark magic.
These days, it’s gratifying to see the space wiped clean and buzzing with activity. We’re moving forward, and the team of conservators, architects, construction workers and craftspeople executing the recovery and restoration plan are wizards at what they do.
Here’s a less-known Potter-themed room for any die-hard fans out there. Room 117 on Hale Library’s ground floor was not a well-trafficked space. It was home to rows and rows of moveable compact shelving.
Those who took time to uncover the library’s secrets, though, were aware that Room 117 was generally cooler when the rest of the building was hot, warmer when the rest of the building was cold, nearly always quiet and usually had vacant tables next to some enormous banks of windows. No space in the library, save perhaps the Great Room, offered more beautiful natural light.
How is all of this Potter-themed?
A few of our student employees dubbed it “The Room of Requirement.” It always had what you needed. We can’t wait to see what need the Room of Requirement—and all of these now-empty spaces—fills in its next life.
Librarians are pretty obsessive about tracking everything in their collections. It’s all meticulously cataloged, which allows us to identify where each item is at any given point in time, who has it, and when it’s coming back.
Cataloguing pieces of a mural? The oak beams from the Great Room? A 50-pound solid oak acorn finial? That’s a little out of our wheelhouse.
Fortunately, John Canning Company is in charge of disassembling Historic Farrell Library so it can be put back together better than ever. We’re confident that there will be no Humpty Dumpty situations on their watch.
Let’s set the scene: There’s a coupla big ol’ holes in Farrell Library. Charred, scary holes that have been covered by a temporary roof.
Below that, you have the dance floor. That’s what they call the temporary plywood floor built on top of the metal scaffolding that fills the entire Great Room. We don’t want to keep those holes, so the dance floor gives workers access to the ceiling where they can begin the process of removing the fire debris to replace the ceiling and roof.
Workers are carefully taking down the woodwork that lends the Great Room much of its historic character. It’s a little like high-stakes Jenga: Removing, labeling and relocating each piece of wood is a delicate process.
When Farrell Library is sporting a new ceiling and roof sans holes, it will be time to reverse-Jenga all of that woodwork. We can’t wait to see it back where it belongs!
Over in the Richard L. D. & Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, librarians have been going hands-on to pack out the Libraries’ unique research collections and rare materials. This area of the building mainly experienced smoke damage, and we initially hoped the books and other holdings could be cleaned on site. It’s become clear, though, that in order to keep them safe, everything needs to be transported to secure, reliably conditioned space.
“We should have everything out before the end of September,” said Associate Dean of Libraries Mike Haddock. “It’s been a slow process, but we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
The remaining special collections materials will join the 140,000 boxes that have already been sent to one of the three offsite storage facilities we’ve contracted to keep everything safe. The newest location in our stable of stables is one of Underground Archive & Storage’s facilities, a former limestone mine in Kansas City, Mo.
Now, it might not have been the first thing on everyone’s mind after the fire, but we had materials on order that arrived over the summer. We were a little busy, and we weren’t able to make those available … until now!
NEW K-State Libraries materials that were destined for Hale Library are being held in Seaton Hall. You can visit Library Help in the Union and ask for the item you want in person; we’ll retrieve it on the spot. Alternately, you can make your request through our website and specify which library help desk you’d like to pick your item up at.
And, as we look to the future, we continue our work with the architects from PGAV. They recently completed “like-for-like drawings”: PGAV determined what the building looked like right before the fire. Now those drawings go to a contractor who assigns what the replacement costs would be if we were to rebuild Hale Library as it was. These are essential steps that have to happen before the various parties involved assign a dollar amount to the total damages. Only after that is completed will we know how much K-State will receive from the insurance companies.
Until then, if you ever have questions you’d like us to address in this blog, please comment below or contact us at email@example.com.
And to everyone who has been following along with us on this journey, thank you! Your comments and words of encouragement mean the world to us!
Maybe you’ve never seen it. The “We Are the Dream” mural on the fourth floor of Hale Library is not heavily trafficked, but it’s an important record of the struggle of K-State’s underrepresented students to be seen and heard.
“We Are the Dream,” which was sponsored by the Black Student Union, Movimiento Estudiantil de Chicanos de Aztlan (MEChA, a Hispanic student group), and the Native American Indian Student Body, was painted and dedicated in 1980. At that time, it was a striking focal point in the Minorities Resources/Research Center. In recent years, the space has served as the Academic Learning Center, a daytime study location for student athletes.
This summer, the “We Are the Dream” mural was damaged in the May 22 fire, along with the rest of the building. In fact, the Academic Learning Center staff, led by Liane Fowler, assistant director of Student Academic Services, was the first to smell the smoke in their space directly in front of the painting.
Their area is located on the opposite side of the wall from the Great Room Murals, so the two works of art have undergone some of the same challenges. Both suffered from significant water damage and soiling, and it is imperative that the the wall between them dries out. The “We Are the Dream” mural had mold trapped behind it: While the images are beautiful, the paint created a barrier that inhibited the moisture from escaping.
Rachel Gilberti, the chief conservator at John Canning Company, has been working with the damaged mural since June 22, after her company was contacted by Julia Mathias Manglitz, the preservation architect with TreanorHL.
“The ‘We Are the Dream’ mural is painted on burlap that was incorporated in the original 1927 building construction, so that’s been there for a long time,” Gilberti said. “When they made the mural in the early ’80s, they came in and painted over everything that was existing. So, in reality, that surface was never really prepared for a painting.”
“Another challenge is that we have multiple types of adhesives going on behind the burlap. There’s the original adhesive used when the burlap was installed, and over the years, as the seams started coming apart, they started injecting other adhesives on the seams. There are 15 pieces of burlap, so a lot of the seams have a different type of adhesive, and each type reacts differently.”
Gilberti and her conservation associates have removed each section of burlap from the wall, which will allow air to reach the wall behind the painting and dry it out.
The “We are the Dream” mural has been moved in pieces to another floor in the library and spread on tables so the conservationists can clean them.
However, the Libraries administration’s hope that the mural won’t remain in pieces. It will be safely stored by John Canning Company in a climate-controlled space until it can be reinstalled in a clean, renovated Hale Library.
“They are salvageable,” Gilberti said. “Every piece of art is salvageable. It’s not one of those things. Conservators are here for exactly that reason, to salvage the artwork and preserve what the original artist’s intent is. So they will be saved.”
When asked about the “We Are the Dream” mural, Dean of Libraries Lori Goetsch noted that it’s an important part of K-State’s cultural history.
“We love having it as part of Hale Library and look forward to its restoration,” she said. “The fact that this mural celebrates diversity and progress at K-State makes it an important piece of work to be treated with respect and preserved as well as it can be.”
The mural has been an important symbol to many K-Staters over the years. In May 1993, students gathered around the mural to mourn the death of Hispanic activist and leader Cesar Chavez, who is pictured in the painting.
The Kansas State Collegian reported that members of HALO, (Hispanic American Leadership Organization), sang, listened to music and talked about Chavez’s impact on their lives in front of the “We Are the Dream” mural.
Elsa Diaz, the president of HALO at that time, said the mural is significant to minorities on campus because it is the only thing on campus that can give them a sense of belonging. “The mural means a lot to a number of people,” Diaz said. “It is important to people who want to come and worship their heroes.”
The Great Room murals, painted in 1934 by David Hicks Overmyer, are the most iconic works of art on the K-State campus
During the fire, some of the most serious damage occurred in the Great Room ceiling immediately above the murals. Water from both the sprinkler system and from the firefighting efforts on the roof saturated the wall and dripped over the surface of the paintings. Then, in the following days, the plaster and masonry wall behind the mural absorbed a large amount of water that was still flowing through the building.
Since early June, the future of the Great Room and its murals have been in the hands of Julia Mathias Manglitz, preservation architect with TreanorHL.
Manglitz examined the murals post-fire. At that time, she worked from a lift to document soiling and streaking on the paintings that resulted from sap running from wood trim directly above. The murals were also stained by dirty water that came from the attic. Additionally, Manglitz discovered areas where paint was cracking and areas that were already exhibiting very small areas of paint loss.
When public information officer Darchelle Martin spoke with Manglitz in late July, Manglitz explained that the murals are painted directly on plaster that is attached directly to the masonry walls. In other words, the paint needs to adhere to the plaster, and the plaster needs to adhere to the walls.
“If we lose the plaster, we’ve lost the paintings as well,” Manglitz said. “So I inspected the murals as closely as I could by doing what’s called ‘sounding.’ When we work with materials like plaster and stone, we tap on them with a rubber mallet, and depending on what sound comes back to us, we can tell if something is well-bonded. Hollow sounding plaster is an indication that layers of plaster are starting to delaminate from each other or from the masonry. On my initial evaluation, even though I wasn’t seeing plaster coming away from the walls except in small areas, what I found were large areas that sounded hollow.”
Between concerns for paint loss and the potential for plaster loss, Manglitz decided to contact a conservation contractor as quickly as possible. Based on her experience working with John Canning Company on the extensive renovation and restoration of the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, she recommended they be brought onto the project.
Rachel Gilberti, chief conservator at John Canning, has been working in Hale Library since June 22.
Once Gilberti joined the project, more intensive mapping of the mural damage began. By this time, scaffolding had been erected so they could finally make a thorough, up-close examination. They discovered small areas of plaster deformation where it was starting to delaminate from the wall. Other areas of the paint were marked by a fine pattern of dense cracking called craquelure.
“Water escapes through the cracks, which is a good thing, but sometimes the paint can come off, too,” Manglitz said.
Gilberti also noted that it’s important that the wall needs to dry at a stable rate. “If it starts to dry too quickly, the layers begin to separate from one another,” she said. “It’s also important to have the wall dry from both sides and meet in the middle. If it dries just from the back, all of the salts in the stone get pulled into the front and the material on the surface of the stone will come out.”
It could be a long time before the walls are thoroughly dry.
“The walls are fourteen inches thick, and the general rule of thumb for drying mass masonry is one inch per month,” Manglitz said. “That said, it doesn’t have to be perfectly dry before we start the conservation process to visually restore the appearance, but we needed to get it to the point where we feel like it’s safe.”
When the wall started to dry, additional small areas of paint began to flake off. Gilberti and her team began a triage campaign to repair small areas of damage and prevent others from worsening.
They used syringes to insert thermoplastic adhesive where they found paint cracking and peeling. Once the adhesive seeped in, they placed a clear piece of mylar over it and heated it with a small iron to get it to set. The process helped them keep the paint layer in place and on the wall.
As they monitored the drying-out process and addressed the paint delamination, they noted that different colors of paint reacted differently.
“Each color, each pigment in itself has unique traits,” Gilberti said. “Some pigments have less binding in them. All the reds in general are more sensitive pigments, so they react differently, especially to water. Greens are also very sensitive. White is a very stable pigment, so paints mixed with white did very well. The ones that don’t have that extra binding power are what we tried to stop from flaking with the thermoplastic adhesive.”
Since the beginning of their efforts to preserve the murals, Manglitz and her team have been collecting data regarding how wet the walls are. Initially, they could only take measurements at the surface, but since then, they’ve inserted probes seven inches or eight inches into the masonry to determine the moisture levels inside the walls.
“Once we determined that the easternmost mural, Industry, was dry and stable enough, we were able to do a surface cleaning to remove the drips from the wood trim above without having paint actively flake off,” Gilberti said. “After that we began removing the varnish coating.”
The protective varnish was applied the last time the murals were cleaned and restored in 2011. Stripping that layer will increase the breathability of the wall.
As the process of stabilizing, drying, cleaning and stripping the murals of varnish continues, Manglitz and her team have several important questions to weigh regarding next steps.
“We need to decide when it’s appropriate to do the conservation work on the murals given amount of repair that has to be completed in the rest of the space and above this space,” she said. “Roof repairs come with the risk of water infiltration, so we’ll be asking ourselves, ‘What can we do to protect the murals? When do we think it’s appropriate to move forward with conservation? What should the sequence be?’”
Even though those questions haven’t been fully answered yet, Gilberti is confident that they will find a way forward to ensure the future of the Great Room murals.
“Every piece of art is salvageable,” she said. “Conservators are here for exactly that reason, to salvage the artwork and preserve what the original artist’s intent is. It’s not one of those situations where they’re going to disappear: They will be saved. We’ve just got to assess as we go. The murals will have damage, but we are here to mitigate that.”
Since our last update, we’ve been hard at work creating a blank canvas on which to build our new Hale Library. Crews have removed a huge variety of items from the building, including entire rooms full of shelving components and a one-ton air conditioning unit.
Inside the building
Most of the books have been removed from the first floor, with the exception of a small portion of Stack A. Once all the books are removed from a space, crews start dismantling shelving units.
Crews are removing compact shelving from the third and the fourth floors, too. The majority of bookshelves are unsalvageable due to smoke and water damage.
Recently we found mold growing in the wood display cases by the second floor entrance, so they had to be removed. Previously, the display cases featured rotating exhibits that highlighted the Libraries’ services and collections.
Lead abatement has been completed in Room 212, the second floor of the 1927 building. Before the fire, this space was filled with cubicles that were occupied by iTAC employees. Large swaths of the walls are now bare of paint, which will help the plaster dry more quickly.
Three massive heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units on the roof that were close to the source of the fire were deemed not salvageable, so they had to be removed.
When the pieces were on the ground, Jeremy Sharp, a K-State facilities program manager, noticed that pieces of the aluminum had melted from the fire. To inflict that kind of damage, the heat would have needed to reach 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.
We are now in the early stages of meeting with PGAV, an architecture firm that is working on both damage assessment and the plans to renovate Hale Library. There is still a long road before we will be able to reopen, but it is an exciting time to start planning for the future.
We are still in the initial stages, but this gives us all a glimpse of what’s to come.
Hale Library is in recovery, but we would not be as far as we are now without Belfor Property Restoration. Their crews have been working very hard for up to twelve hours a day, six days a week in challenging conditions.
Every inch of the library must be cleaned, including the spaces above the drop ceiling grid and the duct work. A Belfor worker stands on a ladder cleaning with a chemical sponge in order to remove the soot. June 28, 2018.
Now that most floors of the building are emptied and we’re starting to work with a blank slate, truly dramatic changes are less visible. Nonetheless, surprises crop up on a regular basis—some less welcome than others.
The vast majority of the materials from the Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections are located on Stack G and Stack H. For weeks, our plan was to clean those materials on the premises.
“We really hoped we could set up cleaning stations in the building and go through the process of vacuuming them and wiping them down to remove soot right here on site,” Roberta Johnson, director of administrative and IT services, said.
Unfortunately, Stack G is getting hotter: A water line that provides cool water to the chilling system was damaged in the fire. It needs to be fixed, but that water line is an area of the Great Room that is currently inaccessible.
This week, we received the news that temperatures in Stack H are rising, too.
“All of the building except the data center in the basement and a few elevators are still powered by generators,” she added. “The cooling system for Stack H isn’t getting reliable power, and until good commercial power is available, and the unit’s electrical issues are resolved, these problems will continue.”
So the materials in both Stack H and Stack G will be packed out soon and transferred to Executive Court, the storage and cleaning facility near the airport.
“In some places, the building conditions are getting worse instead of better,” Johnson said. “We just can’t risk leaving valuable materials in non-climate controlled space.”
The Great Room
Additional scaffolding has been constructed in the Great Room. Once complete, crews will build a floor across the top; from that floor they will be able to reach the ceiling and start the restoration process.
Julia Manglitz, a professional art restorer, is on-site to oversee efforts to preserve the Great Room murals, which were painted by David Hicks Overmyer in 1934.
“Her goal is to dry the plaster out very slowly in order to cause the least possible damage to the murals,” Haddock said.
He also explained that she is using a large black light to examine and photograph the murals because the UV light can make damage on the painting’s surface readily visible.
The “We are the Dream” mural is in the Academic Learning Center, which is on the opposite side of the wall from the Great Room Mural. Manglitz hopes to remove the “We are the Dream” canvas from the wall as the plaster dries, but that painting is in less-than-ideal condition and the outcome is uncertain.
In a related effort, there is a full painting crew in the Academic Learning Center, but they are actually “unpainting,” or removing the paint from the walls, thereby erasing a barrier that is preventing the plaster from drying out.
The next step will be to remove the ceiling in the Academic Learning Center, another part of the effort to eliminate moisture from the environment.
One building challenge and one bit of trivia
Meanwhile, up on the roof, there are three very large, non-functioning air conditioning units that will have to come off. (Well, two very large ones, and one very, very large one.)
“It’s a challenge we haven’t quite managed to come up with a workable solution for yet,” Mike Haddock, associate dean, said. “There’s been talk of everything from dismantling them and bringing them down in pieces to airlifting them off with a helicopter.”
Stay tuned for those photos, right?
About a month ago, we shared photos of the dehumidification tubes that prompted references to science fiction pop culture.
Well, sci fi fans, meet the hydroxyl generator.
There are multiple boxes emitting an eerie blue glow across fifth floor. These hydroxyl generators use a phenomenon that occurs in nature to neutralize odor left by the fire.
Hydroxyls are molecules that are created when sun’s ultraviolet rays react with water vapor in the air; however, they don’t occur indoors. The generator creates atmospheric hydroxyls that neutralize smells by breaking down the chemical bonds in the odor-causing bacteria molecules. Hydroxyls also neutralize some molecules in mildew and in mold spores. The machines are safe for use in occupied areas.
If you were told to inventory the contents of your house, apartment, office or dorm room, where would you start? How many total items would be on your list?
In order to file an insurance claim after the May 22 fire, the K-State Libraries administration has been managing that overwhelming task. Roberta Johnson, director of administrative and IT services, walked us through the process of inventorying a building that’s bigger than nine football fields.
Johnson explained a series of steps have to be completed before the insurance company will provide financial compensation. Several tasks have been finalized.
First, K-State’s insurance company subcontracted with an insurance adjuster (in this case, Crawford & Company). Crawford & Company will work closely with Belfor, the recovery and restoration company, in determining the extent of the damage that was a result of the fire and the subsequent water exposure.
Before that happens, though, the entire contents of the building had to be inventoried and a determination made as to what was or was not salvageable, so Crawford & Company subcontracted with two more organizations. RCF Salvage inventoried all fixtures, furniture, and equipment (FFE) in the building, and Envista Forensics inventoried technology, which included everything from computers to the digital displays and checkout machines.
“I feel like I have nine million people to deal with,” she joked. “At one point there were 15 different agencies in the building, companies that have come from all over the country, Georgia, Indiana, Texas … to work on this project.”
The whole inventory process started on May 28, just six days after the fire. The bulk of the work was completed in about three weeks.
Either Johnson or K-State Libraries’ building manager, Robin Brown, walked through Hale Library with RCF Salvage’s staff to verify every single item that was inventoried. They signed what Johnson said felt like reams of carbon paper in the process, and the resulting 367 page FFE inventory included 7,749 line items. In many cases, just one of those lines represented more than one thing; for example, one entry might be a record of 35 wooden chairs.
Envista Forensics produced a second inventory report that included approximately 1,970 pieces of technology.
“Keep in mind that almost all of this was done by flashlight because there was no power in the building,” Johnson said. “We did have temporary lighting toward the end, but I just thought these were the world’s worst conditions for the work. They sifted through the contents of every office, cubicle and storage space. And yet they were still so professional. I’ve been amazed.”
So what happens next?
“This is a 550,000-square-foot building; there are a lot of nooks and crannies,” Johnson said. “We’re still coming across items, and occasionally we have to go back to the inventory to make sure they’ve been accounted for. It will take time to clear up any discrepancies.”
Only once the loose ends are tied up can the adjuster valuate the inventory and provide a dollar amount to the insurance company.
“Even once the inventory process is finalized, we still don’t have estimates about the structural damage itself,” Johnson said. “That’s an entirely separate process. And until we have that piece in addition to the inventory of the building’s contents, there won’t be a total damage estimate.”
In the meantime, Johnson says she does have some idea of what the largest losses will be in terms of expense.
“The servers in the basement are among the most expensive single items,” Johnson said.
Other big ticket items include the fixtures: cubicle walls, desks and workstations.
During the inventorying process, first floor was used as a holding area for furniture and boxes of books. June 11, 2018.
“Right now they’ve carted out more than 100 industrial-sized dumpsters full of fixtures and furniture, and they’re not done yet,” Johnson said. “The loss is massive.”
Johnson is highly pragmatic about the whole process, though.
“We had no injuries,” she said. “When you think about the extent of what happened, that’s the most important thing. No injuries. I’m so grateful for that.”
Of course, there are more than 100 K-State Libraries and IT Services employees who had offices and workstations in Hale Library, and most had personal items at their desks – everything from art to clothes to their own technology. An inventory of those items was compiled separately, and employees will make claims to the insurance agency at a later date.
Among some staff members, there’s a running bet as to whose office held the most personal items. Two of the academic services librarians, Melia Fritch and Cindy Logan, are the odds-on-favorites, so we asked them about their experience.
“There was such a sense of disbelief when we learned our office was a loss,” Logan said. “We have had so many fire alarm situations where nothing was damaged, I just thought they had to be wrong … there was no way there was that much damage. It took probably a week before the news really set in.”
On May 30, Fritch, Logan and their Hale Library co-workers were allowed in the building for the first time to retrieve any personal belongings that were salvageable.
“It was pretty surreal visiting the office for the first time after the fire,” Fritch said. “We walked through with all the safety gear on and carrying flashlights, and it was so hot. The most disturbing thing was going into to our office and feeling like FEMA had been through since there were these orange spray-painted words like “demo” all over the walls. That was weird.”
Fritch and Logan’s second floor office was packed with art, books, photos and objects. They both say they surround themselves with things that remind them of people they love, books about subjects they’re passionate about or quotes that express core beliefs.
“What I really miss is the artwork that my son had done throughout the years that I had hanging up,” Fritch said. “I was super happy that some of Tyler’s artwork was safe and I could take it, along with some photos I really wanted. Of course, I miss the Keurig, too—ha!—but the material objects, the decorations, the computer, the chair, books … those can be replaced.”
A video of Melia Fritch and Cindy Logan’s office taken shortly before the fire.
Logan, who laughingly admits to something of an office supply addiction, agreed, and added that she looks forward to the day when they get to move into a new space.
“For now, I miss having my 20 million different markers, highlighters, pens, notebooks and types of Post-it notes,” she said. “But I look forward to our new bright and shiny offices and making them feel like home once the building has been renovated. My office reflects me, and I will continue to fill it with things I love and from the people who love me.”
Today marks six weeks since the fire at Hale Library. Since last week, carpet has been completely removed from several floors, more of the drop ceiling system has been taken out, scaffolding has started going up in the Great Room and crews have begun the labor-intensive process of wiping soot from every surface in every room.
As you’ll see here, the some of the changes are quite obvious!
The Great Room
The Great Room was the area that received the most damage from the fire, and it will take the longest to restore. In perhaps the most visually dramatic change, scaffolding is being constructed throughout so that crews can access the walls and ceiling and start the cleaning and restoration process.
The murals are on plaster walls that are still drying out, and we are working with preservationists in order to save them.
The First and Second Floors
If you read our five-week update, you know that most of floors have been cleared of furniture, carpet and drop ceilings.
As of this week, the first and second floors are completely empty. It’s exciting to see a blank canvas emerging. Now the area can be cleaned, and we can start thinking about its future.
Isolated Mold Outbreak in the Stacks
The library is a 550,000-square-foot building, and most of it is still without commercial power, which means that many of our inspections have been conducted with flashlights.
Of course, we are always looking for emerging problems throughout the building, even in places where we initially thought the damage was minimal. However, we now know that lack of light prevented us from identifying one area of concern.
In the last week, we found mold in a small, isolated section of the stacks.
So what happened? As the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that permeated the building during the fire drained from the top floors to the bottom, it flowed along any unrestricted path available. Initially, the stacks were dry, but some of that water drained down the edges of a pipe. Since there is a gap around the pipe where it passed through each floor, water seeped through to the levels below. As the water progressed down the exterior surface of the pipe, books in the immediate vicinity got wet.
Since this discovery, we have removed the affected books. We remain vigilant for similar leaks and pockets of moisture throughout the stacks.
Packing and Removing Books
Since the last update, we continue to remove books from the library for cleaning at an offsite location. Currently, crews are boxing and moving books on the third and fourth floors.
As of July 2, crews have packed more than 38,000 boxes of books and library materials.
Until June 28, the elevators were operating thanks to power from generators, but the elevators still didn’t have lights, so crews were moving books from the upper floors to the ground floor in the dark.
Cleaning Fifth Floor
The fifth floor was relatively unscathed, but it still needs to be professionally cleaned to remediate soot and smoke damage. Even ductwork will be cleaned throughout the entire building.
On fifth, crews are cleaning every accessible surface that was exposed to soot and smoke. It’s a very labor-intensive process. First they vacuum all surfaces—walls, windows, doors, everything—with a HEPA vacuum, which is a vacuum affixed with a filter that can capture particles of 0.3 microns with 99.97% efficiency. Next, the crew goes over everything again with dry chemical sponges. And finally, they wipe the surfaces down with clean washrags.
This process will be repeated on every surface throughout the entire building.
In the fifth floor, ceiling tiles have been removed, which makes the ductwork accessible for the cleaning crew.
All surfaces are cleaned with HEPA vacuums before they are wiped down with chemical sponges.
In order to reach every inch of the soot with a chemical sponge, the crews put them on long poles.
Emptying damaged furniture, construction materials and books from the library is part of the process of creating a clean slate. Day-to-day, sometimes it feels like a slow process that requires an overwhelming amount of labor. When we think about the big picture, though, it’s an exciting first step toward renovating Hale Library and creating a new, vibrant research environment that will serve the entire K-State community.
We’re taking a break for the rest of the week, but check back early next week for the latest Hale Library news! Have a fantastic Independence Day, all!
Today marks five weeks since the May 22 fire at Hale Library. In this update, we have a lot to share about our demolition progress.
A huge amount of damaged drop ceiling, drywall and carpet has been removed.
There was also extensive water damage to the drywall. In some areas, only a few feet needed to be removed, but in other parts, the entire wall had to be demolished and only metal studs remain.
Furniture and technology: Soot damage
Most of the furniture in the building was damaged beyond repair and will need to be thrown away. The tables that were located across all five floors of the building suffered so much smoke damage that the toxic soot cannot be cleaned off of them.
Already, the majority of the furniture from the first through the third floors has been disposed of. All told, it filled a large industrial dumpster 65 times.
Because the soot from the smoke is so toxic, every inch of ductwork in the 550,000-square-foot building will need to be taken down and professionally cleaned.
In addition to the ductwork, all surfaces of every room will have to be professionally cleaned to eliminate the soot. Cleaning the first through fourth floors could take about ten weeks.
Furniture: Water damage
The original Farrell library tables suffered intense water damage that stripped and warped the wood beyond repair. These photos were taken two days after the May 22 fire.
Luckily, not everything was completely unsalvageable. While removing books, the crew and staff were in desperate need of book carts and were able to salvage 30 book carts from the fifth floor.
Progress continues on the book retrieval process. At this point, 30,000 full boxes of books have been removed.
In the last week, the data center, which had been operating off of generators, was returned to commercial power.
Additionally, the electronics in the building have been assessed, and about 70 percent of what was deemed a loss has been prepared for disposal through the e-waste process.
Obviously, there are many moving parts to the recovery process. Before we can implement our plans for K-State’s future Hale Library, the damaged portions of the building must cleared out. We are making strides forward every day.
We’d like to extend our deep appreciation to our K-State Libraries and Information Technology coworkers and the Belfor team for everything they’ve accomplished thus far.
It started shortly after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22.
Alarms went off in Hale Library. Employees reported smoke.
The building was safely evacuated, and emergency personnel from the Manhattan Fire Department, Riley County EMS, Fort Riley, Blue Township and others responded.
In order to save the structure, several hundred thousands of gallons of water flooded the building.
Outside of the library, the entire K-State community experienced system outages. To protect the university’s data center, which is located in Hale Library’s basement, online tools such as Webmail, HRIS, KSIS and others were taken offline. By June 4 —thanks to efforts from staff from multiple units across the university who worked round-the-clock—vital services were restored due to generator power.
Additionally, since the majority of the university’s library materials were unavailable, the Libraries made it a priority to restore interlibrary loan services as soon as possible. They were up and working again by June 1.
This is what K-State’s faculty, staff, and students experienced outside of Hale Library.
Inside of Hale Library, the damage was much, much worse than initially hoped. On May 24, President Richard Myers and Dean of K-State Libraries Lori Goetsch saw the destruction for the first time.
“To be honest it was pretty devastating,” Dean Goetsch told Brady Baumann of KMAN. “It was heartbreaking to see the amount of damage. In order to enter the library, we of course put on hard hats. We had to put boots on because the water was up to our ankles. … It was really sad. You know, I’ve been here for 14 years, and Hale … feels like home. … And it was like seeing your home damaged.”
Historic Farrell Library bore the worst of the destruction. Holes for the firefighting efforts were cut in the roof, and a lot of the water poured through that part of the building.
Many K-Staters are familiar with Farrell Library’s iconic Great Room, but most are probably not aware that the 1927 building also houses the Academic Learning Center (ALC), K-State’s athletic tutoring facility. The ALC is an essential study location that provides vital tutoring services for student athletes.
The “We Have a Dream” mural, which was created 1978-80 by several multicultural student organizations, covers one large wall of the facility. The ALC will have to be gutted, and it is uncertain if the mural can be saved.
Below the ALC and Great Room, on Farrell Library’s second floor, the IT Help Desk, multiple iTAC offices and the Media Development Center were extensively damaged, as was the technology in those spaces.
Nevertheless, even as K-State Libraries administrators were absorbing the scope of the disaster, they were also launching the recovery process.
Within 48 hours, Belfor, an international disaster recovery and property restoration company, was on site to assess the damage.
On May 27, more than 75 Belfor workers began removing wet carpet and ceiling tiles from the library. By June 1, their ranks had grown to nearly 200 workers from eight states. They swarmed the site, performing assessment, cleaning and determining what could and could not be salvaged.
Most of the carpet and ceiling tiles in the building have been removed, and it’s estimated that about half of the drywall will need to come out.
Two weeks following the fire, all of Hale Library’s occupants—87 K-State Libraries faculty and staff members, 38 IT Services staff members, 2 Academic Learning Center employees and dozens of student employees— were generously welcomed into 13 temporary locations across the university.
Many, many challenges lie ahead for the recovery effort. Even today, there is very little lighting since electricity has not been restored. The generators on the lawn power dehumidifiers and air cooling units in an attempt to keep the temperature and humidity more manageable. On hot days, it reaches 90 degrees inside the building. Workers have to wear hardhats, vests, and respirator masks, so that combination makes the heat even more oppressive. The sheer scale of the recovery for the 550,000-square-foot Hale Library is immense, and there are new problems to be solved at every turn.
This blog will be our place to share our journey, and we hope you’ll follow along as we plan for the future.
The outpouring of support from faculty, staff, students, alumni, donors and other libraries around the country has been overwhelming. We are profoundly grateful for their generosity and kind words, and we know that with the K-State Family behind us, the long chapter ahead of us has a very, very bright ending for an exciting, new Hale Library.
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