While no one really enjoys finals week, there has always been something special about time spent cramming for final exams with fellow students and friends inside the walls of Hale Library. But for the previous two semesters the building hasn’t been available. That all changed this week when students spent their first finals week back in Hale since the May 2018 fire.
Here’s hoping all of your hard work paid off this semester. We look forward to having even more space open in Hale for spring semester finals. Enjoy your well-deserved winter break!
We’re about six weeks out from the planned completion of the Dave & Ellie Everitt Learning Commons on Hale Library’s first floor! The space is buzzing with activity as drywall is finished, the new paint goes on and floors are evened out in preparation for carpet installation.
Meanwhile, one level up on second floor, most of the demolition is complete and the space largely has been cleared out. Second floor is slated to open in spring 2020!
If you’d like to help make the other floors of Hale Library as amazing as the first floor is going to be, contribute to Help for Hale through the KSU Foundation website! Time is of the essence. Insurance will cover replacement costs—but not the improvements that make an ordinary library experience extraordinary.
When Hale Library reopens, the renovated space will include increased access to technology, plus some exciting new features. K-State students and faculty members will find the tools they need, including
An Innovation Lab where users master state-of-the-art software and hardware that are not readily available elsewhere on campus.
Improved infrastructure, including stronger wi-fi and more electrical outlets.
Technology-equipped, reservable group study rooms.
Given the complexity of those additions and the role information technology plays in the day-to-day life of all academic libraries, we are pleased to have Sheila Yeh, associate dean for collections, discovery and information technology services, on our team. She joined K-State Libraries in March 2019. Most recently, she worked at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she was assistant dean of library and information technology.
I sat down with Dr. Yeh to hear her thoughts about the Hale Library renovation and her time on the K-State campus so far.
What has it been like for you to arrive in the wake of the Hale Library fire?
While the seriousness of the fire in the Hale Library can’t be understated, the silver lining is that the library has a unique opportunity to reinvent itself. It is an honor to be part of the team that guides the library’s reimagining.
In your new role, you oversee so many areas in the library, including preservation and information technology services departments. What excites you about your job?
Information technology has been the catalyst for much of the transformation we find in today’s academic libraries.
Digital and information technology are key resources that must integrate with other library functions to deliver effective services. They are more than utilities and tools; they are enablers.
What do you mean by enablers?
Consider the technologies that will be available in the Innovation Lab, such as virtual reality goggles or the Liquid Galaxy platform.
I’m very excited about these tools; however, I’m more excited about the prospect that the Innovation Lab, as a space combined with its technologies and programs, will offer new opportunities for interdisciplinary studies, serendipitous discoveries, and knowledge creation.Those tools will enable great things. You never know, our Innovation Lab may incubate something that combats climate change.
What previous career experiences are you drawing from when it comes to thinking about the new Hale Library?
At the University of Hawaii at Manoa, I led the reimagining of group study rooms in the library, everything from new furniture to charging stations, and the completed spaces were very popular.
Prior to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, I worked at the University of Denver Libraries, where I oversaw the area that supported technologies in the library’s innovative group study rooms, event rooms, classrooms, and seminar rooms. I helped establish the Library’s Makerspace, its staffing, and programming support.
Keeping current on the landscape of innovation hubs at higher education institutions and academic libraries in the United States is part of my routine. Aside from technology itself, I also keep up-to-date how institutions are utilizing their space and technology resources to inspire the next generation inventors.
How do you see faculty and students using the new features in Hale Library? Part of my role is to think about the areas within the Library from a 360-degree, big-picture perspective. I think about the Library as an organic whole, providing a multitude of services for the community. I think about how we effectively and efficiently deliver services by capitalizing on our existing resources. I think about service delivery, and about the services needed to fulfill the Library’s mission at the highest level. I think about how we engage in dialog with our community to continuously evolve and foster success.
For example, I don’t have to know how to use every tool in the Innovation Lab, because I trust my technologists for that. But I do think about how we can create connections so everyone at K-State—students from all majors as well as faculty—finds opportunities for growth and discovery in the new Hale Library.
I want to think about how we can connect and utilize faculty who already have significant connections in the community. How can we bring those parties to Hale Library to help students succeed and prepare them for life after they graduate?
Also, it is imperative to connect with campus constituents such as the Office of Research Development to ensure that the library can be a supportive partner for their initiatives, such as campus-wide data management support.
What feature of the new building are you most excited about?
I am excited that we will have a state-of-the art digitization lab for Special Collections that will be unique to K-State, our community, and the Libraries. It is often not possible nor economical to transport those collections to and from an out-sourced digitization facility. The new digitization equipment will make those collections available to a global audience. This is an example of a sustainable service model with a far-reaching impact.
If you weren’t working in the library world, what do you think you would be doing?
I have long dreamt about a boutique Chinese dumpling restaurant. Who knows, maybe one day you will find me in the kitchen attending to dough and savory fillings to make the delicious dumplings I grew up with.
K-State librarians are devoted to helping students and researchers.
Funds from #HelpforHale will equip the new building and its Innovation Lab with technology that will take their work to the next level. Our people will be there to help them every step of the way.
Insurance will cover like-for-like replacement costs, but it will require private donor support to take Hale Library from good to great. #HelpforHale funds will create better study spaces, group study rooms and provide more white boards.
Also important for students: more outlets. When Hale Library was dedicated in 1997, our users weren’t carrying laptops, cell phones and other electronics at all times. With #HelpforHale funds, we will be able to increase the number of electronic outlets exponentially.
It’s hard to imagine a K-State experience without Hale Library, but students like Kali Poenitske went through their entire freshman year without setting foot inside the building.
A contribution to #HelpforHale will allow us create the new Hale Library that Kali and generations of future students deserve!
The new Hale Library will feature welcoming environments for every student on campus, from quieter quiet spaces to improved graduate student study rooms.
Not only that, but with #HelpforHale funds, we’ll be able to extend our hours and provide a first floor that’s open 24 hours a day.
As we bring Hale Library back, we have a window of opportunity to make the heart of campus stronger. Renovations are moving ahead at a furious pace. A contribution to #HelpforHale now will allow us to incorporate the extra features our campus community so richly deserves.
In the wake of Hale’s fire, our community has been incredibly supportive.
We didn’t expect national exposure like this, though: Hale Library was recently profiled on a new television program. The series, which is called “Rescue Heroes: Global Response Team” (not to be confused with the Canadian children’s show “Rescue Heroes,” which features animated dogs), premiered last month. The second episode gives an overview of the fire, including interviews from rescue and recovery personnel plus students and faculty.
Watch the full show on YouTube! (The portion featuring K-State starts at 11:07).
The episode features several people who are near and dear to the Libraries talking about the fire, the process of rescuing the books, restoring the building, and Hale Library’s future. Here are just a few of them.
Before the fire, Kathryn Talbot managed digital preservation and the preservation lab that cared for the books. She also supervised all staff that physically moved library materials: They shifted the collections from one part of the library to another, reshelved books returned by patrons and more.
After the fire, Talbot became one of Hale Library’s key players in working with Belfor, the property restoration company, to make sure our collections made it out of the building and into safe storage locations.
“Books are a part of us,” Talbot said. “They have all our ideas, our thoughts, our hopes, our futures embedded in those pages. Missing that would be missing a huge part of ourselves.”
Tiffany Bowers, a senior in anthropology, was also featured in the video. Bowers is planning on going to graduate school for library sciences and is the current president of the K-State Libraries Student Ambassadors.
Her interview included her hopes for a renovated Hale Library: “This is an amazing opportunity to really rethink how… the library could serve students even better.”
Battalion Chief Jason Hudson, who was featured in a previous post, shared experience on the scene of the fire that day. “It was pulling at my heart knowing how bad this was,” he said.
Hudson was an undergraduate student at K-State when Hale was being built in the late ’90s, so witnessing its near destruction held special significance for him.
Rodney Todd, a restoration specialist with Belfor, shared facts about the extent of the damage: “There was not one square inch of the library that didn’t have some sort of either soot or water damage from top to bottom.”
Todd also talked about the murals in the Great Room and the process of trying to repair them after water and soot damage. “They’ve got the Great Room, which has murals that we’re saving. That’s one thing that’s really important to the university.”
The books that were damaged in the fire are being taken care of by Kay Rieder, another restoration specialist with Belfor. The approximately 1.5 million books are being stored in several locations throughout the state in storage facilities that have humidity and temperature control.
Kay described the process of dealing with wet books: “When we get wet materials we put it straight in our trailer, which is set at zero degrees. They then go in a freeze-dry chamber and that chamber puts it in a dry state and when the books come out they’re completely dry.”
These people are just a small part of the Hale Library emergency response team. As disheartening as it can be to think of the fire this summer, the knowledge that our books and building are in good hands made the process much easier, and we loved seeing it all captured so beautifully on “Rescue Heroes.”
From the outside, Hale Library looks relatively normal. Sure, there is a fence around it, and there is obviously some sort of construction going on, but the building’s exterior does not mirror the level of destruction inside.
This week we started a new semester, complete with new students wondering why the library is under construction. Even though we have been posting updates, there seems to be a disconnect with students about why Hale Library isn’t open.
In order to get a student’s perspective on what’s happening inside the building, the week before finals I joined a group of K-State Libraries Student Ambassadors on a tour so I could see the damage through their eyes and get their honest opinions.
The inside of the building has been stripped of almost all furniture and carpet, with a few remaining belongings sitting on the second floor. Most of the building is unrecognizable, and extension cords trail along the ceiling for lighting.
“I remember walking around Hale thinking that I knew where we were, and then Dean Lori would say something and I would realize that I had no idea where I was,” said Matthew Millholm, a junior agricultural education major.
The second floor is home to a few tables that survived the fire and random boxes. Wefald said of the second floor, “I was surprised that there was still some stuff left inside on one of the floors, like office chairs, desks, and even Christmas decorations.”
The combination of the exposed wall and partially destroyed tile on the staircase between the first and second floors was haunting, but we made it. From there, we took the elevator to the third and fourth floors, which was terrifying, but in different ways: There are no lights in the elevator. It was pitch dark.
This really brought home what Dean Lori Goetsch explained to us about the power in the building: Right now, all of the electricity is a low level of “construction power” that is brought into Hale Library from outside. As a result, areas that don’t absolutely have to be lit up (like the elevators) are left dark. It will be a huge job to replace all of the building’s electrical wiring so that it has its own power again.
“The third and fourth floors are completely empty,” Milholm said. “I think that’s where I really realized that the renovation is going to be a lot longer process than what I expected.”
The Great Room has seen better days but is under active construction. We barged in on two workers who looked very surprised to see us. Despite the scaffolding and the construction, the room is still gorgeous.
“It was a little bittersweet going inside the Great Room and walking by my old study spot because it really does look like a completely different building now,” Victoria Sparkman, a senior political science major, said.
After the fire, all the carpet needed to be torn out. As we exited the Great Room, we encountered a portion of the floor that is still alarmingly sticky from carpet glue.
Even after all of the demolition and repairs, there are still places in the building that look beautiful. This is the woodworking room, boxed in by plastic sheets and dedicated to repairing wooden trim from the Great Room.
The fourth floor was probably the most terrifying of all. The students—and, off the record, some of the adults—thought it would have made an excellent haunted house, with the exposed brick, scattered debris, and office space that has been temporarily transformed into a lair of some kind.
“It was very cool to see the old brick walls that were covered up when Hale was expanded over the years; it was like seeing more of Hale’s history,” Sparkman said.
The fifth floor is surprisingly intact because it was not damaged by the water. Because of this, desks, carpet and other items were left behind. This floor is where special collections were housed, so they escaped intact, although they were moved offsite for storage and will need to be cleaned.
“One of the weirdest things was going to the fifth floor and having it look relatively normal while the rest of the building looked so different,” Wefald said.
The final part of the tour took us to the stacks for special collections. There was a fan on somewhere in the room that made the plastic sheeting move. This, paired with the dangling light bulbs at the end of the dark bookshelves, made for a terrifying experience.
“After leaving the tour, I realized we are going to have a brand new building,” Milholm said. “I know that the current students will have a library that is fit for them. I won’t be in school when Hale reopens, but I’m still excited about the new library.”
At the end of the tour, we were all excited that we had the opportunity to see the inside of Hale. For the students who will graduate before it reopens, it was lovely to be able to say goodbye to the library that has been their favorite study spot for so long.
It’s coming: Hale Library’s new first floor will open in fall 2019! Other floors will follow in 2020.
On Tuesday, December 4, architects from PGAV held an open forum to share existing plans for the building and to get feedback from the K-State community.
As attendees pored over proposed floor plans, they talked about how they used Hale Library in past semesters and what they’d like to see in its future. They even considered details like noise levels and various furniture styles and configurations.
Thank you to everyone who was willing to share their reactions (and have their photo taken during a stressful dead week!)
“Last year I usually studied on the second floor when I had time in between classes. It was a great way to knock out a couple things or just relax. I definitely see a lot here that I like.”
“The first floor looks awesome, including the café right in the middle and the event space next to it. The way the noise levels are configured makes sense, how it starts with the loudest on first where the café is and then gets quieter as you go up each floor. Love the rooms with the natural lighting.”
Angela: “I like the open concepts and how they’re looking at different kinds of furniture to get different uses out of the space. Large tables with dividers would help for solo study, but then they also have some good examples of large desks where you could spread out or study with a group.”
Anna: “I look forward to the enclosed study rooms that you can reserve.”
“I like the reservable group study spaces. I use the ones in the Business building all of the time, but they’re first-come, first-served, so it can be hard to find one that’s open.”
“There were a lot of things I loved about the old Hale Library, so I hope we don’t lose some of its good qualities. But there’s a lot of interesting features on the first floor, and the innovation center looks cool.”
Brien: “I got excited when I saw images of the innovation space. The rendering showed some tools on the wall, so I thought at first that it was going to include a shop, and I’m a construction science major. The architects told me it’s going to be more of a maker space and not a full shop, which makes sense for the building, but I still think it will have cool things in it that I’m looking forward to.”
Over the past several weeks, architects have been making revisions to reflect some of the feedback they’ve received in meetings and in the open forum. We look forward to sharing more renderings, floor plans and timelines in 2019!
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