Re-envisioning Hale’s first floor

Michelle Haug, junior in marketing, and Erika Kramer, junior in apparell marketing, walk up the stairs in Hale Library from the downstairs entrance to the main floor. They both agree that it will make navigating the library easier if a new door is put in downstairs. (Taylor Alderman | The Collegian)

Someday, in the not-so-distant future, you might be able to enter Hale Library from the ground level. Though no official decisions have been made, the library is working with architects to develop a plan for the renovation of the first floor.

“We’re at the very, very, very beginning stage of this,” Lori Goetsch, dean of K-State Libraries, said.

Shepley Bulfinch, an architecture firm located in Boston, visited K-State recently to assess the space and come up with ideas. They will return at the end of October with more preliminary outlines.

Goetsch said it is almost certain that they will open up the first floor entrance to the library, meaning visitors won’t have to go up the stairs to the second floor just to get into the building.

“Traditionally, because of security of collections, libraries have wanted to have one way in and one way out to manage checkout and circulation of materials,” Goetsch said. “As (libraries) move to a smaller collection footprint, that has opened our thinking to having two entrances.”

The lack of a first floor entrance also stems from an era when food and drinks were not allowed in Hale, except for containers with closed, spill-proof lids, according to Lisa Loberg, undergraduate community services specialist.

“When you walk into a building this size, you expect there to be a big entrance,” Loberg said.

In addition to the entrance, the first floor will likely become a hub of collaborative group work, much like the second floor today. It will also likely boast glassed-in spaces for group study, a new center for digital scholarship and publishing, as well as house additional graduate student space, according to Goetsch.

“I think that adding an entrance to the first floor is going to increase traffic to that floor,” said Hale Library student specialist Chris White, sophomore in architectural engineering. “It will relieve some traffic from the second floor as well.”

The current plan is to make the first and second floors collaborative work areas. The building will get quieter as you go up the floors.

“While the fourth floor is not a quiet zone, it is not conducive to group work at all,” White said.

The renovation also aims to fix the potential lack of library seating. According to Goetsch, Hale is under-seated for the population it serves by national standards. Library officials are trying to find ways to add more seating and do so in a pleasing manner.

There is no current timeline for the project. Fundraising will be a big determining factor in how quickly the project moves forward. The library works with the K-State Foundation in the process of securing donation dollars, as Goetsch said that the project will be looking for private individuals as well as corporate donors.

This renovation is similar to a trend seen among libraries nationally, Goetsch said.

“A lot of libraries are transforming their spaces as a result of more information becoming available electronically and less dependency of a physical collection,” Goetsch said.

The trend is driven in-part by student demand. Goetsch said students have expressed interest in group study rooms where they can practice presentations through applications like video chatting and collaboration with people in other locations.

“Libraries are migrating from being warehouses of collections to being active learning communities and informal educational communities where students use technology (and) library information … (to) be able to benefit from the human element – the experience that library staff bring to the table,” Goetsch said.