Computers, events and books: Hale Library by the numbers

(Graphic by Audrey Hockersmith)

The timeless, castlesque Hale Library continues to draw students in, and in 2016 the library saw 920,614 visitors, averaging about 90,000 patron visits each month during the academic year, said Roberta Johnson, senior director of administration and information technology services at Hale.

These numbers tend to fluctuate depending on the week of the semester, Johnson said.

“Numbers pick up during midterms,” Johnson said. “Our biggest time to have students here are Sunday nights because nobody thinks about homework until Monday is tomorrow.”

Hale has ample space and services to help students succeed academically. Johnson said Hale has about 1,600 seats and over 220 public computers for patrons to use, making it the largest public computer lab on campus.

“I could have another 200 computers in here before I could make everybody happy … I very rarely go through here, except maybe on a Friday afternoon, and see half of them open,” Johnson said.

Also available are the library’s 3.5 million print materials, a figure which includes 1,314,004 physical books, 29,329 maps and 452 DVDs. If students cannot find what they’re looking for at Hale, interlibrary loans are an option, Johnson said.

“In 2016, 15,510 documents owned by other institutions were delivered to K-Staters, and we loaned 16,003 items to other institutions,” Johnson said in an email.

The place (and space) to be

Marissa Komp, freshman in biology and pre-veterinary student, has not checked out any books in the library’s collection or asked a reference question, but she said she appreciates Hale’s third floor, which is a designated quiet floor.

“(The third floor) has the cubbies that face Anderson, and I really like the view,” Komp said. “The natural light helps keep me awake and makes me more productive. And it’s quiet, so it works for me.”

Some of the study spaces in Hale are used for group study and events. In 2016 the library hosted about 4,000 non-library sponsored events and room reservations.

An important factor concerning space in the library is shelving materials. Roughly 15 years ago, moving compact shelves were installed to accommodate more materials, Johnson said. The mobile shelving increased shelving space by 60 percent compared to stationary shelving.

“They are one of the highlights of any tour given in the building,” Johnson said.

Library’s greatest resource is staff

Though Hale is open 94.5 hours a week and has a 24-hour study space, some students are unsatisfied with the availability of the library after budget cuts forced the library to cut its hours. Komp said she would prefer longer hours on the weekends to use that quiet study space.

“During the week, I’m OK with it,” Komp said. “But the weekend hours are awful.”

When the library is open, though, students have access to what Johnson said is Hale’s greatest resource, the staff. Hale employs 95 people, and typically about 40 to 60 of those employees are students.

“I would say that the resources are really hugely important, but it’s our people that are what is the best service,” Johnson said. “A lot of our help desk work is handled by students. They like helping each other, (and) they like being helped by each other.”

Kyle Hampel, sophomore in English, said he has had positive experiences with the reference desk staff.

“Overall, I don’t think I’ve had any problems with the help desk at the library,” Hampel said. “You walk up, you ask them what your problem is, and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten anyone with a bad attitude or bad answers. I give them an overall rating of two thumbs up.”

I'm Dene Dryden, and I graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor's of Arts in English. Before graduating, I worked at the Collegian for more than three years as a copy chief, managing editor and editor-in-chief. I also served a term on the Collegian Media Group Board of Directors. While at K-State, I also worked at Wildcat 91.1 FM. My cat Robyn is the light of my life, and I take compliments in the form of coffee.