Relocated library, IT services continue operations after fire, prep for fall semester

The Great Room is one of the largest rooms in Hale Library, often occupied by study groups and student activities. After the roof fire on May 22, Hale Library is closed to the public as damage assessments and restoration take place. (Justin Wright | Collegian Media Group)

After the Hale Library fire that occurred on May 22, Kansas State’s library and information technology services were disrupted, most notably marked by the lack of internet access in campus buildings and the inaccessibility of websites like KSIS lasting a few days after the fire. Now, the university’s library and IT services are operating all over campus.

“Everybody’s been offering space, trying to help, with the understanding that we’re going to be in it for probably a while,” said Michael Haddock, associate dean for research, education and engagement at Hale.

Haddock said Hale’s librarians are working out of several locations, including Seaton Hall, the Business Administration Building, the off-campus Unger Complex, the Berney Family Welcome Center and the K-State Alumni Center.

Library user services are setting up a satellite service in the business building, Haddock said.

“When you walk in the south doors of the College of Business, there’s a couple tables set up there, and they just started last week, manning those tables,” Haddock said.

He said the new help desk is staffed during the building’s open hours, which are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to the College of Business Administration’s website.

Haddock said K-State Libraries is looking for a place to run a central help desk for the library this fall, but has not decided on a location.

“We’re in the process of trying to figure out what’s going to be a primary service point for things like reserved and interlibrary loan and more of a central help space, and we have some options, but we haven’t finalized it yet,” Haddock said. “Math/Physics Library, operating out of there, maybe operating from the Union, but nothing’s decided.”

K-State’s Information Technology Services staff and operations had to be moved due to the fire as well. Rebecca Gould, director of the Information Technology Assistance Center, said the IT Help Desk is now located in Cat’s Pause Lounge on the second floor of the K-State Student Union.

“We were up and running in Unger Complex … on May 24,” Gould said. “By the beginning of the next week and with the generosity of the leadership of the K-State Student Union, we moved to a more visible and accessible location.”

The Media Center — known previously as the Media Development Center — is also located in Cat’s Pause Lounge.

“We hope to have an updated location for the Media Center on August 1,” Gould said.

Accessing resources

Right now, Haddock said materials that are housed in K-State’s other libraries and the airport annex are still accessible, but it will be months before the books in Hale can be used again.

“It’s very disheartening and almost surreal, but it is what it is,” Haddock said. “So now we just have to deal with it and help people however we can.”

Availability of physical materials will affect students in the humanities more, Haddock said.

“We know we’re going to have to use interlibrary loan, it’s going to be hitting much heavier in the fall because we won’t be able to use the collection,” Haddock said. “Probably depending on subject areas, it’s probably going to affect humanities and social sciences harder, and I say that because science, STEM areas tend to use electronic resources … heavier than they do books, and that’s online, primarily.

“If you’re in English or modern languages or history, you need the books, and we won’t be able to get to them, so we have to get them from elsewhere for the time being,” Haddock continued. “It’s a cumbersome process, but we want to get the materials to people that need it.”

In addition to books and other physical materials, Hale also provided students with public access computers and study spaces. As reported by the Collegian in March 2017, Hale had over 220 computers for patrons’ use.

Haddock said the absence of those computers and study spaces is going to “put pressure all over campus.”

“For the coming year, this academic year, it’s going to be interesting,” Haddock said. “Just places to study with tables and quiet — it worries me, but we’ll try to make do the best we can. Actually, it’s now become a university issue because we don’t have the building, so where else can people do that? I think the university, which has been so good about coming to our aid, I think as an institution will begin to figure out some solutions, short-term here for the coming year.”

Gould said computers are available in the Union, Dickens Hall and Seaton.

Hale’s restoration status

According to the university’s Hale Library Recovery Plan webpage, architectural assessments of the building began on June 11. Since assessments are still underway, Haddock said an accurate assessment of cost will not be available for 30 to 60 more days.

“I go in the building regularly because I give updates at our all-staff meeting about progress over the previous week, and there’s parts of the building I don’t even recognize,” Haddock said. “So they went in and took out all the wet carpet and ceiling tiles and tried to get the moisture out. The water got into the drywall, so they’ve started taking out drywall; in some places they’re down to metal studs. It’s why it looks like a construction zone.”

Haddock said all of the furniture the first and second floors of the building have been removed. Though power has been restored to the data center in Hale, he said the rest of the building does not have electricity.

Because the building has a slight tilt toward Mid-Campus Drive, Haddock said water would go into each floor and flow to the other end of the building.

“That’s why everything got wet, except fifth floor, which is another lucky thing,” Haddock said. “That’s where special collections and archives is. … That’s unique, and you can’t replace it.”

In the most recent briefing between the university, library staff, the Belfor restoration company and insurance agencies, Haddock said a rough estimate for Hale’s restoration to be complete and for being back in the building is December 2019.

“Originally they were talking 24 months,” Haddock said, “So 18 sounds a little better, but again that’s still just estimates.

“I think, sadly, that one of the things to get across to most students, faculty, anybody at the university is that we’re not going to get back in the building very soon,” Haddock continued.

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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.