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.
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.
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!
After the Hale Library fire, more than 80 K-State Libraries faculty and staff members plus 37 Information Technology Services staff members and several dozen student employees were left without office space. After the first few days of assessing damage to the library, it became clear that Hale wouldn’t reopen for some time.
Thanks to the generosity, assistance and compassion of our K-State community, we have been able to find temporary office locations across campus. We are so appreciative to the Alumni Center, Bluemont Hall, Business Building, Dykstra Hall, Seaton Hall, Unger Complex and Welcome/Career Center for their generosity in welcoming us into their spaces.
Our employees may be spread across campus, but they are ready to provide their help and services to campus and community once again.
(Please note, these photos represent only about half of the K-State Libraries and IT Services employees. Dozens of library staff members have worked shifts in Hale Library helping to pack damaged books and remove them from the building. Some were in meetings when we visited, and still others refuse to let us get within 50 yards when we have a camera out.)
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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