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Hale Library Blog

Category: Library Collections

Week Fifteen Update: A ton of Jenga fun and other developments

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.

The wooden acorn finials (shown on the cart at right wrapped in a green protective covering) weigh 50 pounds each.

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.

Until recently, it was difficult to get up close and personal with the ceiling to photograph the fire damage.

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.

Wooden beams that will be preserved are laid out on the “dance floor.” Every piece is labeled so that once the room has been renovated, it will be possible to reassemble the woodwork.

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.

In order to keep the ceiling repair process moving forward, workers have to take each piece of wood off of the dance floor. Here you can see the scaffolding that supports the floor. 

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!

The ceiling has been removed already in this portion of the Great Room, and the rest of the beams will follow.

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.”

Only a few rooms of special collections materials remain in Hale Library. They’re the last of more than 1.5 million items to leave the building and go into storage where they will be professionally cleaned.

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.

Underground Archive & Storage has facilities across the region; the one we’re using occupies a series of caves created by limestone mining. Given that Hale Library is a massive limestone construction, we think there’s a metaphor here. We’ll let you know when we figure it out.

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.

A group of six librarians and architects sit and stand around a table as one of them points to a print out of a floor plan.
While we wait for information about total damages and insurance, staff are working with PGAV to imagine a library for K-State’s future.

Until then, if you ever have questions you’d like us to address in this blog, please comment below or contact us at libcomm@ksu.edu.

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!

Book Report: Wet materials and new warehouses

As soon as K-State Libraries and Belfor Property Restoration employees were allowed back in Hale Library after the fire, we removed wet books as quickly as possible.

Several weeks ago, we wrote about that process: books were packed out of the building and stored in freezers on campus until they could be shipped in refrigeration trucks to a Belfor facility in Fort Worth, Tex.

Two weeks ago, Kathryn Talbot, preservation coordinator, and Michelle Turvey-Welch, head of metadata, preservation and digital initiatives at K-State Libraries, went down to Fort Worth to check on our materials.

Four people stand in a row smiling.
From left to right, Jeff Zieber, Kirk Lively, Michelle Turvey-Welch and Kathryn Talbot at Belfor in Fort Worth. July 23, 2018. 

A total of 3,500 boxes of wet books were sent to the Belfor facility. Once they arrived, a two-step process of freeze drying and then cleaning the books began. The boxes stay in the freeze drying chambers for about a week.

Books that come out of the freeze dry chambers with mold on them are gamma radiated to kill the mold spores, and books with pages that dry wavy are pressed flat. After that, all items that are in acceptable condition will be transported back to Manhattan and stored in a leased offsite facility dedicated to clean materials.

“We reviewed the books during our visit,” said Talbot. “We believe that at least 90 percent of the books will come back to Manhattan. Some will be discolored or have wavy pages, but they are still usable. The books that could not be salvaged were those with excessive mold growth on the interior pages.”

A women looks into a brown box next to a giant freezer and a man stands behind her surveying the stack of cardboard boxes.
Turvey-Welch surveys books that came out of the freeze drying chamber. July 23, 2018. 

Book Removal

Initially, we hoped that some of the books in Hale Library’s Stacks A-H could be cleaned inside the library. Unfortunately, the temperature and the humidity levels in the building are unreliable. It’s been difficult to ensure the consistent power that’s necessary to run the air conditioning units. As a result, more than 1.5 million items in Hale Library will be removed and cleaned offsite.

We are especially concerned about providing an environment that’s appropriate for materials from the Richard L. D. & Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections. Air conditioning is struggling to reach those items on Stack G and H.

Student employees in orange vests and hardhats smile in Stack H.
From left: Student employees Patrick Dittamo, Andrew Le and Shannon Harkins were a part of the team that helped to label and inventory approximately 18,000 linear feet of shelving in Special Collections. That’s the equivalent to the length of 60 football fields! July 19, 2018.
Students use flashlights to inventory boxes of special collections' material.
Team members worked under heavy plastic sheeting that is in place to protect materials from water damage. Each shelf was labeled with location, range number, section number, and shelf number so they can be returned to the correct place. July 19, 2018.

Currently, Stack A has been emptied and Belfor is boxing and moving Stacks B and G. We are hoping to have the all eight stack levels emptied by the beginning of September.

Once those books are removed, they’re sent to offsite warehouse space. K-State Libraries has leased three separate buildings where dirty materials are stored. Executive Court, an office building near the airport that was most recently used by the College of Architecture, Planning & Design during the Seaton Hall renovation, has been filled with more than 68,000 boxes of books.

Since we have tens of thousands of additional boxes to accommodate, we’ve also leased space in the Ag Press building in Manhattan and an entire former lumber yard building on the east edge of Junction City.

Inside Ag Press building with plywood floors and boxes of books.
The inside of Ag Press has been prepped with clean plywood floors, and boxes of books are filling up the new space. July 31, 2018.
Boxes on pallets arrive at Hale Library
A fresh batch of boxes is unloaded at Hale. They will be used to pack up books and other library material. About 14,000 boxes are delivered multiple times a week. July 31, 2018.
Belfor employees take apart book shelving on the fourth floor of Hale.
With the books removed from fourth floor, Belfor takes down the shelving for removal. August 2, 2018.
Parts of book shelves are piled in an alcove.
Book shelving parts are piled in an alcove on the fourth floor. August 2, 2018.

Obviously, most of our collection will be unavailable during the 2018-19 academic year. However, we still have access to hundreds of databases and other online resources. Current periodicals are located in the Math and Physics library. Course reserves are available so students can access textbooks and other materials at Library Help in the UnionInterlibrary Loan is up and ready for requests if we don’t have what you need.

Have questions? Contact us via Ask a Librarian! And again, if you’re looking for help in person, visit Library Help in the Union, which is located across from Radina’s, or stop by one of the other library locations (Math/Physics Library, Weigel Library of Architecture, Planning & Design or Vet Med Library).

Kathryn Talbot: Master of disaster

Kathryn Talbot, K-State Libraries’ preservation coordinator, was at home when she received the call about the Hale Library fire on May 22.

“This person kept saying, ‘There was a fire, blah, blah,’” Talbot said. “I literally almost went, ‘I think you have the wrong number,’ before it dawned on me: This is Michelle from work.”

After that call from Michelle Turvey-Welch, the Libraries’ head of metadata and preservation, Talbot came back to campus feeling relatively calm.

“Driving up you didn’t see smoke, so I thought, ‘It can’t be that bad.’”

But when the firefighters were still working four hours later, Talbot knew that she needed to ask Turvey-Welch for permission to call companies that manage large-scale emergency recovery and restoration.

An aerial view of Hale Library surrounded by electric generators and three Belfor semi trailers.
More than 200 BELFOR Property Restoration employees have been working on the Hale Library recovery effort for almost eight weeks. June 21.

“We were preregistered with two companies that specialize in cleaning up after emergencies like hurricanes and tornadoes,” Talbot said. “So I called to say, ‘I think we might need your assistance.’ After four hours I knew it really was that bad.”

As K-State Libraries’ disaster team lead, it’s Talbot’s job to prepare the organization’s employees for the unexpected and to know whom to call in an emergency. By preregistering with disaster recovery companies, Talbot insured that K-State Libraries would be a priority client in case of a large-scale crisis. For example, in the instance of a tornado that affects multiple organizations, the disaster recovery company helps preregistered clients first.

That was only one element of the team’s preparation, though. Every office was supplied with one of the team’s red “disaster plan” binders, and they stocked strategic points throughout the building with emergency bins and supplies.

In a dimly lit room, the reflection of large leaded glass windows is visible in water pooled on the carpet.
Hale Library’s Great Room. May 24.

“The disaster plan is any library’s bible for how to care for the collection during a time of crisis,” Lori Goetsch, Dean of Libraries, said. “I’m confident that the damage in Hale Library would have been so much more extreme if it weren’t for Kathryn, Michelle, and a really excellent disaster plan.”

Once Talbot had made contact with BELFOR Property Restoration, she also called the American Institute for Conservation (AIC), which has a round-the-clock response line.

“I wanted their help in thinking through the situation and knowing which questions to ask the next day,” Talbot said.

Seeing the aftermath
In the following hours, as the extent of the damage became apparent, Talbot had plenty of questions, but answers were in short supply. She described her experience as she walked into Hale Library for the first time post-fire on Friday, May 25.

Woman wearing white hard hat, ventilation mask and neon orange emergency vest works by flashlight and pulls a large red book off of a bookshelf.
Talbot at work in the stacks. July 5.

“It was really super dark, and I couldn’t believe at the time they had you put on boots,” she said. “I was like, ‘Why am I putting on galoshes?’ Then, as you walked in the back door, you instantly step into water. It’s like, ‘Why is there water in the mail room? That’s kind of weird.’ … And it was dark and intensely smoky. I figured [water and smoke would be] in the Great Room, but not everywhere.”

“We went up all five floors and four of them had water. I knew most of the collection would have to be moved. There was no way that our staff could do that on our own. There was no electricity and … we had tiny LED lights. It was way creepy.”

Talbot went through the building with Belfor staff members who specialize in handling collections and documents after an emergency. They helped prioritize which areas of Hale Library would be addressed first: Room 117 on Hale Library’s first floor suffered the most water damage and the books had to be packed out right away.

By this point, it was Memorial Day weekend, and it became increasingly difficult to contact vendors and arrange supplies. In order to have enough boxes on hand, Belfor’s team bought all of the boxes in stock at Home Depot, Menards, U-Haul and Lowe’s in Manhattan, Topeka and Salina. [Read more about how they recovered wet books.]

Large cardboard boxes marked with call number ranges, shelf rows and ranges are stacked three high and four across.
Talbot, Turvey-Welch and other employees worked to capture the call number ranges on every shelf of every book case in Hale Library. They were written on corresponding boxes and entered into spreadsheets so there is a controlling guide that will help her team keep the 1.2 million volumes in order.

Today, a little more than eight weeks post-fire, Talbot cites Turvey-Welch’s constant support and non-stop work ethic for helping her get past each new unexpected challenge. She also praises the Belfor crew for helping her wrap her head around the massive scale of the project

“They’ve been through this before,” she said. “I’m like, ‘What am I not thinking of? … What do you need in order to do what you need to do?’ My dealings with their team have been highly collaborative.”

Past experience
When the Libraries aren’t in crisis, Talbot’s job looks much different. Typically, her main job duties include managing digital preservation and supervising all staff that handle aspects of physically moving books: shifting the collections from one part of the library to another, reshelving books returned by patrons, and storing and circulating books that are located offsite at the Library Annex. She also supervises the care of general circulating collections, including binding and preservation lab activities.

These days, Talbot has a desk in Unger Tower, but she doesn’t spend much time there.

“Every morning I visit Hale at about 7:40 and I do my rounds with my environmental control, I take pictures or I go, ‘Huh. I wonder why that’s like that,’” Talbot said. “I come out, upload the environmental data and send that on, maybe do some troubleshooting. It just depends on the day. It’s not like the early panicky weeks where you’ve got to react right away with some decision. It’s more like, ‘Okay, let’s think this through, because we’ve got 24 minutes to live in the situation.’”

Woman wearing white hard hat, ventilation mask and neon orange emergency vest works by flashlight and pulls a large red book off of a bookshelf.
Talbot at work in the stacks. July 5. 

“I would say about a couple weeks ago I stopped waking up in the middle of the night, so I’m either letting it go or I’m just dealing with it better. I think we’re in a better place. It sounds like by the end of August we’ll have everything out of the building. Even if it’s not cleaned, it will be in a better environment than what it is now.”

“I think another anxiety will be when we’re ready to go back,” Talbot said. “The integration … really, I haven’t mentally wrapped my brain around that. There will be a lot of collection decisions that need to be made.”

And is she considering a career change after everything she’s been through in the last two months and the many challenges ahead for renovating Hale Library?

“No,” she said, laughing. “I’m not.”

What happens to smoke damaged books?

A few weeks ago we talked about what happened to the wet library books after the fire in Hale Library, but there were also over a million books in the library that suffered smoke damage and require treatment.  

The soot from the smoke damaged every inch of the library, and it has proven very difficult to remove from surfaces. A combination of the smoke, water, heat, and non-climate controlled building left most surfaces stained. Typically soot can be wiped away, but in this case, it is almost baked on.  

This resistant soot is an anomaly that Belfor, an international disaster relief organization, has not experienced before. Because this is such a strange occurrence, we sent a few books from different parts of the library to the preservationists at the Library of Congress where they will be tested and researched.  

Books lined up behind a white shelf that shows a brown outline of where the books used to be.
Soot stains outline where books were shelved.

“This soot was different from what I typically dealt with in the past because [it] causes a stain,” Kirk Lively, director of technical services at Belfor, said. “It’s not something that you wipe your finger through and you come up with a black smudge on your finger. It’s actually stained onto the surfaces.”  

While we wait to hear from the Library of Congress, we continue to move books out of Hale Library over to Executive Court, a process Belfor has been working on since May 25.   

K-State leased Executive Court, an office space near the airport that was most recently occupied by the College of Architecture, Planning and Design during the renovation of their Seaton Hall Complex. As of now, books from rooms 117 and 222 have been moved to Executive Court as well as most of 3rd and 4th floors. We estimate 500,000 books are currently at Executive Court waiting to be cleaned.  

A side by side photo shows a giant empty room and the same room filled with boxes.
Executive Court before and after boxes of books were transported.

To clean a soot-covered book, a HEPA vacuum is used on the book’s exterior to remove most of the dirt and soot. Next, the cover, the back, and the spine of the book are wiped down with a dry chemical sponge. After the outside is clean, the book is opened and the fore edge of the pages is fanned in both directions and wiped down. It takes about 20 minutes to complete this process on a box that holds 12 to 15 books.  

Kay Rieder, Belfor project manager, demonstrates how smoke damaged books are cleaned.

After they go through this manual cleaning process, all of the books will go into an ozone chamber in order to neutralize the smell and draw out the carbon. Belfor has built two ozone containment centers in Executive Court.  

A white tent in the a large room with cardboard boxes.
One of the ozone chambers that neutralizes odors on books.

After the books are out of the ozone chamber, they go through a “white glove” quality control check. If any soot comes off the book or a smell still lingers from the fire, that book goes through the cleaning process again. Ozoning books can accelerate deterioration of items, so they will not ozone a book more than needed.  

 

A women holds a pink book up to her nose and smells it.
Kathryn Talbot, preservation coordinator, checks for any lingering odor from smoke on clean books.

The cleaning process of some of the books has begun, but the crew cannot begin cleaning them in earnest until more warehouse space is acquired to store the clean materials. It is important not to put clean books near the carbon-covered books because the clean books would absorb those chemicals again.  

Blue tape lines the floor in grids and brown boxes are stacked in the boxes.
To keep the books in order, Belfor put grids on the floor with tape. Each shelf in the library has a corresponding grid in Executive Court.

One of the challenges with Executive Court is the inability to move books on pallets, because they don’t fit through the doorways, which slows down the cleaning process considerably.  Pallets allow dozens of books to be moved at the same time but instead the boxes are managed by hand and small carts.  

Currently, the few hundred boxes that have been cleaned were moved to the Library Annex. The annex is an offsite location near Executive Court that holds part of the Libraries’ collection. Patrons are able to request books from the annex, and then they are delivered to an on-campus library help desk.  

After the books are cleaned, some of the books will be ingested into the annex and will be available for check out upon request. The annex is unable to hold the entire library collection, so hundreds of thousands of additional books will be sent to additional warehouse space, once it is acquired.  

At Executive Court, boxes are stacked seven boxes high and fill the entire building. 

The Libraries have received many questions as to why we don’t claim the books as a loss to insurance. For us, its not just about how much it would cost to replace them.  

“Many of our books and other materials are out of print,” Roberta Johnson, director of administrative and IT services, said. “K-State’s resources are the result of years of collecting and carefully managing materials that provide the most relevant information to the faculty, staff and students.” 

Not only are some of the books out of print, but it would take an exorbitant amount of time for the acquisitions and collection development department to search for and purchase the material. It would be a major undertaking to replace approximately 1.2 million volumes.  

There is no set time frame for the books to be cleaned. As of right now, Belfor estimates it could take between six to twelve months. 

 

 

Hale Library: Week five update

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.

Ceilings

Ceiling grid and tiles are caving in after suffering water damage.
Second floor, Media Development Center, May 31, before ceiling removal.
Ceiling tiles and grids are removed from a hallway, exposing pipes and electric wiring.
Second floor after ceiling tiles were removed, June 14.
A room with ceiling grids up without ceiling tiles, leaving the tubes and electric exposed, while the furniture is covered in white plastic.
Second floor after ceiling tiles were removed, June 8.
Ceiling grids have been removed from the library and tubes and wiring are even more exposed, while furniture is covered in white plastic.
Second floor of Hale Library with all ceiling grids removed, June 14.

Walls

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.

Yellow wall with spray paint marking two feet of wall needing to be removed, while two feet of the wall has been removed, exposing metal studs.
Second floor, June 14. Two feet of the wall was removed since only the lower portion was damaged
Dry wall has been removed, leaving only metal studs in its wake and exposing a wall sign for the Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship.
First floor, June 8. In the Center for the Advancement of Digital Scholarship (CADS), half to all of the drywall was removed.
A hallway has all of the carpet, ceiling tiles, and try wall removed, leaving only metal studs and cement flooring.
First floor, northwest corner, looking east down the hallway that runs between Room 117 and Stack A, June 14. The majority of the drywall was removed from this portion of the building.
A room with debris over the floor and a single light in the middle of the room shows a wall with only metal studs and no dry wall.
Fourth floor, Academic Learning Center, June 14. The ALC is the on-campus tutoring facility for student athletes; this space experienced extensive damage and will be gutted.
A stairwell is caution taped off with the side wall exposing metal studs and electric wiring.
Fourth floor, north stairwell, June 14.
Dry wall has been removed showing a limestone wall behind metal studs.
Second floor, June 14. When drywall was removed, limestone from the exterior of the 1955 Farrell Library addition was exposed.
Looking through a metal chainlink fence lays brown baseboards next to purple dumpsters.
Baseboards were water damaged and will be disposed of along with the drywall and drop ceiling system.

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.

Blue topped tables sitting in a row next to each other.
The tables sustained a significant amount of smoke damage. Most have been disposed of.
A mouse has been moved on a blue desk to reveal a light blue outline of the mouse.
When loose items that were left on the tables were picked up and moved, it was easy to see how much soot coated all surfaces throughout the building.

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.

A grey capital has fallen on a water damaged table.
The Great Room tables sustained a significant amount of water damage.
Brown wood tables are warped and wavy after severe water damage.
Both the veneer and the underlying wood was cracked and warped from prolonged exposure to water.

Book Retrieval

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.

Rows of colorful book carts are lined up against the wall.
Book carts, fifth floor, June 14.
Rows of deconstructed cardboard boxes are lined up against the wall from floor to ceiling.
This is just a small percentage of the boxes that are ready to be assembled and packed with books that will be relocated relocated offsite for cleaning and storage.
On the right are cleared off white bookshelves and on the left the wall is lined with brown cardboard boxes.
The entirety of the Music and Art collection has been boxed and moved off of the fourth floor.

Technology

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.

Dozens of computer screens sit on a concrete floor.
Damaged computers waiting for 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.

 

 

What happens to wet books?

After the fire it was critical to address the issue of damaged books, especially those that were wet. Hundreds of thousands gallons of water were used in the rescue effort, and that water drained down into different parts of the library like Room 117, which was full of books stored on compact shelving.

The floor between white metal shelves and the compact shelving units is covered in debris from white ceiling tiles. Room 117 covered in ceiling tile debris from water damage.

In order to preserve wet books it is best to freeze them. The process of freezing the book turns the water into a solid and stops further damage and mold growth. The majority of wet books were part of the circulating collection housed in Room 117. At this point, 3,357 boxes of wet books have been transported out of Hale Library.

Packing and gathering books is a long process that has been complicated by the fact that library personnel could not enter the building for several days. When they finally could start working, the water damage had left the building with no power.

A row of wet books expands as the water soaks in begins to press against the ends of the shelving unit and form an arc.
In some places, shelves of wet books started expanding so much that the pressure lifted them off of the shelves.

Since the books were stored on compact shelves powered by electricity, at first they couldn’t move the shelves to access the books. Compact shelving moves on chain-link rails, which allows for libraries to provide more books in less space.

“We were unable to initially power up the shelving in Hale 117 with battery back-ups, so our wet materials stayed in un-airconditioned, nonclimate-controlled conditions for a number of days,” said Michelle Turvey-Welch, Head of Metadata, Preservation, and Digital Initiatives.

A women in an orange vest and a white hard hat is inspecting the brown compact shelves.
Michelle Turvey-Welch surveys the compact shelving after the fire.

Once a professional came in to remove the chains on the rails of the compact shelving units, the process of moving wet books became easier.

There is an established protocol that preservationists use when freeze drying books. First, they need to be packed in a specific way: They must be placed spine down in a box that has been thoroughly lined with heavy plastic. Then, those boxes need to be tightly packed in order to help the books maintain their shape.

A large cardboard box lined with heavy black plastic is ready to be filled with wet books.
Boxes that the wet books go into are lined with contractor-grade trash bags to prevent moisture from destroying the cardboard during transportation.

Next the boxes are sent to the freezers where they sit for anywhere from several days to several weeks depending on how wet the book is. Housing and Dining Services at K-State was kind enough to loan us the use of their industrial freezer, which is located in the Pittman Building. The freezer is anywhere between negative ten and negative fifteen degrees.

Boxes are stacked on palettes in a giant industrial freezer.
Wet books sit in the Housing and Dining Services freezer before they are transported to Ft. Worth, Texas.

The books that were in the freezer have been loaded into refrigerated trucks and shipped to a Belfor regional technical service center that specializes in water damaged documents and books in Ft. Worth, Texas. The wet books will be put into vacuum freeze dryers that will draw out the rest of the moisture and turn it to water vapor. Then the books will undergo the final restoration and cleaning process.