Hundreds of feet of ventilation tubing and construction lighting snake their way through a stripped-down version of K-State’s historic Hale Library. They’re the lifeblood for almost 200 workers sweating their way through the difficult recovery work of restoring Hale to its former glory.
More than two months after the May 22 fire and water damage took Hale offline, Collegian reporters toured the library Thursday morning. Much of the building resembles a warehouse, with concrete floors, bare pillars and dangling lighting interspersed throughout the five-floor building.
Inside the Great Room, workers weaved through rows of metal scaffolding, where a wooden platform blocked much of the ceiling.
Since the fire on May 22, Lori Goetsch, dean of K-State Libraries, said about 100,000 boxes of books and other physical materials have been removed from the building. A complete estimate of the cost of the fire and recovery efforts is not yet available, Goetsch said, but it could come in the next few weeks.
The recovery process, Goetsch said, will conclude in the fall, and then repair and restoration of the building will begin, particularly in the historic Farrell Library section of the building.
“Our intent to restore that back to its 1927 original look and feel,” Goetsch said. “That Great Room is really important to us, and the murals will be restored.”
“We will definitely do something to celebrate being reopened,” Goetsch said.
No staff lost their jobs due to the fire, Goetsch said. Janitorial staff have been reassigned to other posts at the university, and library staff are stationed in multiple buildings, including the Unger Complex, KSU Alumni Center and Seaton Hall.
This fall, the library’s help desk will be located on the second floor of the K-State Student Union at the information desk. K-State’s branch libraries in Seaton, Cardwell Hall and Trotter Hall will also be available for students. A map of library services like study areas, printing and computer labs can be accessed at k-state.edu/maps or on the K-State Mobile app.