Hale Library celebrates its 20th year with students

K-State students browse the shelves and study in Farrell Library | Photo courtesy of the Morse Department of Special Collections, K-State Libraries.

Thousands of Kansas State students will be sharing a birth year with Hale Library this fall, as the building was constructed in 1997 and dedicated on Oct. 5 of that year. This year also marks the 90th anniversary of Farrell Library, the first free-standing library building on campus.

The historic Farrell Library exists within Hale along with two other additions to the building constructed in 1955 and 1970, Lori Goetsch, dean of Hale Library, said.

“The 1927 historic Farrell Library, where the Great Room is, that’s the original 1927 reading room,” Goetsch said.

Before Farrell Library was constructed, K-State’s library was housed in Farm Machinery Hall, then Anderson Hall, then the Library and Agricultural Sciences Hall, now known as Fairchild. Today, Hale Library is one of five libraries that K-State maintains, housing over 1 million books in its 500,000 square feet of space.

1997: The year of tweaks and touch-ups

The Hale expansion cost $30 million, including $5 million collected through student fees. Joe and Joyce Hale, whom the building was named after, also donated $5 million toward the renovation.

One issue the renovation fixed was the need for more space. Sarah Hoyt, writer and editor for Hale Library, said the new construction nearly doubled the floor space in the library.

“Hale Library is so big that it’s nearly a quarter-mile round trip from my office to the coffee pot on the other end of the first floor,” Hoyt said.

Advancing computer technology contributed to this need for space. Hale Library now has 220 public computers for students to use, as previously reported by the Collegian in March.

“Space was certainly a big reason to expand … particularly as computing was becoming more prominent in the early and mid ’90s, to accommodate more computers,” Goetsch said.

Goetsch said the 1997 renovation of the library not only added space, but fixed structural issues in the building.

“When the 1927 building was added onto in 1955, it wasn’t done in a very seamless way, and then there was the 1970 addition that was also added,” Goetsch said. “Those three buildings weren’t fitting together very well in terms of providing access and being able to easily get to one place to another. I’ve heard stories from [alumni] about having to crawl through basically something the size of a window to get from one floor to another because the floors didn’t meet.”

A new face for a well-known place

The library’s 1997 renovation also gave it a new look. Hoyt said that Hale’s present appearance has elements of Romanesque buildings like Holten Hall and Collegiate Gothic buildings like Van Zile Hall.

“When the architects designed the new structure, they wanted it to echo the look and feel of some of the much, much older buildings on campus,” Hoyt said. “Before they added that unifying exterior, the south side of the library looked more contemporary … a lot more like a parking garage or a bank building.”

Because Hale appears to be older on the outside than it is, Goetsch said the current generation of students may not be aware that the building as it is now is only 20 years old.

“Hale looks like it’s been here forever,” Goetsch said. “The style of the architecture, and the way that multiple buildings were kind of put together to look like one facility right in the middle of campus makes it look like it’s been here for a hundred years instead of for 20.”

Connecting the past with the present

According to the summer 2017 issue of the Kansas State University Libraries Magazine, about 3,000 sophomore students will turn 20 this year.

Goetsch said the library began a social media campaign this spring called “Turning 20 with Hale.”

“Since we figured a lot of our student body is making that transition from being 19 to 20,” Goetsch said, “it would be great for them to respond to that social media campaign and post their picture or message, acknowledging that they share a birthday with the library.”

Hoyt said that K-State Libraries will share student selfies on their Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages.

“To participate, just tag K-State Libraries in a social media post, use the hashtag #HappyBirthdayHale, or email your photo to me at shoyt@ksu.edu,” Hoyt said.

Students can also engage in Hale’s fall events, one of which will be “Hale of a Time!” sponsored by the Friends of the K-State Libraries. The event will be held in November, and funds raised at “Hale of a Time!” will go toward the renovation of the first floor, Hoyt said.

“Right now, if you want to get to the first floor, you have to enter onto the second floor and go downstairs,” Hoyt said. “We’d like to create a direct entrance into the first floor from the outside and create several rooms that you can reserve to practice presentations or hold a group study session.”

Students can get more involved with K-State Libraries’ current events and history by visiting the library’s website and Twitter account, Goetsch said.

“We have a lot of history on our website that talks about the different aspects and stages of the history of the building,” Goetsch said. “We’ll be focusing some on that during the course of the fall as part of the celebration … we’ve got a lot of great historic photos we’ll share, so I would say to students to make sure you follow the library’s Twitter feed.”

While the Hale Library building is wonderful and rich with history, Hoyt said the staff and faculty are what make the library outstanding.

“The librarians are here to help, and they love to work with students,” Hoyt said. “Whether you’re just getting started on a research project or almost ready to print your bibliography, ask a librarian!”

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.