More storage space needed as Hale’s collection is recovered, cleaned after fire

The second floor entrance to Hale Library now has ventilation tubes lining the ground. (Katelin Woods | Collegian Media Group)

More than two months after the roof fire at Hale Library, operations to recover and clean physical materials in the building continue. All books and materials are being moved out of the building, said Michael Haddock, associate dean for research, education and engagement at Hale.

Originally, materials located on the fifth floor of the library, above the areas damaged by fire and water, would remain in that area.

Haddock said the 14 heating and air conditioning units on the roof and the units responsible for regulating temperature in the university archives and special collections are not functioning consistently.

“One of [the HVAC units] runs stack H, a lot of fifth floor special collections, and one runs stack G, which is university archives,” Haddock said. “Stack H they got running on outside alternator power to get cooled down, but it kept going off. It’d be on for a few days, then go off, so not stable. Stack G was never on for more than eight weeks.”

Those materials will be removed from the library for their safety and for cleaning, if necessary, adding to the 60,000 boxes of wet and dry books that Haddock said Belfor staff have already removed from Hale.

A “logistical nightmare”

As previously reported by the Collegian, wet books were initially frozen to stop further damage, and dry books were packaged and sent to the Executive Court building near Manhattan Regional Airport, where smoke residue and smell would be removed. Wet materials have been sent to a Belfor facility in Fort Worth, Texas, to undergo a freeze-dry recovery process, Haddock said.

Haddock said some librarians traveled Tuesday to Fort Worth to see samples of books that have been cleaned to evaluate which ones will be kept and which should be replaced.

With the additional materials being removed from Hale, and cleaned books needing to be stored separately from dirty books, Haddock said more storage space is needed for Hale’s collections. Right now, Executive Court is “packed to the gills.”

“They were [stacked] six high on the boxes, seven in a few places, eight high — it looks like you’re in a maze, a rat in a maze because there’s just these canyons of boxes,” Haddock said.

Warehouse space in the Ag Press Commercial Printing building on Yuma Street is being cleaned and prepared so boxes of library materials can be stored there, Haddock said. He also said there is potential for using another storage space in Junction City.

Haddock told the Collegian on June 23 that the estimated date for Hale’s reopening is December 2019. He said that target date remains the same, and cleaning all the physical materials could take just as long.

“It may be 12 to 18 months to get everything cleaned,” Haddock said. “In addition to the building not being ready for at least 18 months, it’s also the collections cleaned to get them back in. As they clean, they have to put the clean boxes someplace because we can’t put them back in the building while they’re renovating. It’s this logistical nightmare, almost.”

The estimated cost of Hale’s repair and restoration has not been finalized. More progress has been made, however: Haddock said some power has been restored in the building to operate the elevators, and PGAV Architects evaluated Hale.

“We started meeting last week with architects, the architects that are involved with both the assessment of the damages but also to renovate,” Haddock said. “We had a number of meetings with library staff last week, so for me it’s sort of the exciting part. It’s where you can actually start talking about things we might do, just initial conversations.”

The library’s plans for fall

Earlier this summer, Hale set up a library help desk in the Business Administration Building. Now, Haddock said the help desk is located in the Kansas State Student Union at the first floor information desk across from the William T. Kemper Art Gallery.

“The Union’s been really good,” Haddock said. “They’ve given us a good chunk of that desk, and that’s where library help will be in the fall … [and] all next year.”

Interlibrary loan and class reserves materials will be available for pickup at the Union location.

Other relocated resources include current periodicals. Haddock said the library has access to about 90,000 full-text electronic journals that, because they are digitized, can be accessed online. However, the library receives about 800 journals that are only available in print. These print resources can be found in the Math/Physics Library in Cardwell Hall.

By the start of the fall semester, Haddock said Belfor’s trucks on Mid-Campus Drive will be out of the way.

“By the time school starts, they plan to open the sidewalks on the west side of Hale, because right now you can’t walk up the sidewalk,” Haddock said. “They’re going to move all their trucks and equipment, it won’t be on Mid-Campus Drive — they’re going to be in a parking lot up north, and they’ll be transporting people in and out. They’re going to put in more permanent fencing, they call it, because it’s pretty temporary what they have right now, and they’re going to cover it, sort of like they did with Seaton.”

Information Technology Services was displaced by the Hale fire damage, and those operations and staff have since relocated to Cat’s Pause Lounge in the Union, as previously reported by the Collegian.

Einstein Bros. Bagels in Hale Library was not affected by the fire, Haddock said. The chain had moved its kitchen equipment out of the building about a week before the fire happened on May 22. Einstein Bros. had closed that location for the summer and fall, anticipating the planned first floor renovations.

“They’d actually done a bid process,” Haddock said. “There were like nine bids from nine different kinds of companies to come in, and they came in the day of the fire. Nothing has happened … there will be some kind of café, and they’ll have to re-bid everything because of all that’s happening.”

Haddock said the planned first floor renovations will be wrapped into the restoration plan, but with some possible changes. For example, the first floor renovation included creating collaboration rooms with whiteboards, made to fit four to eight people. Haddock said that idea might be implemented on other floors, but that is still to be determined.

“For me personally, it’s like I go in and some of our librarians talk about ‘how sad,’ and I was real sad, almost surreal when I went in initially,” Haddock said. “I started work here before they built Hale, so I saw it when they did construction for Hale and it’s like déjà vu. The last few weeks, it’s more like when I go in, it’s like excitement because it’s like, ‘Oh, we can do this here and we can do this in this area,’ and it’s going to be so nice when it’s done. Just to see future opportunities, but it’ll be a while.”

K-State Libraries regularly posts updates about Hale Library’s situation at

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.