Take an inside look at the latest in Hale Library’s recovery efforts

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A photographer looks up at one of the murals in Hale Library's Great Room. Scaffolding is set up to support a walkway up above, giving restoration workers platforms to work on the third floor ceiling and the murals. (Rafael Garcia | Collegian Media Group)

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.

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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.

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A photographer looks up at one of the murals in Hale Library's Great Room. Scaffolding is set up to support a walkway up above, giving restoration workers platforms to work on the third floor ceiling and the murals. (Rafael Garcia | Collegian Media Group)

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.”

When asked if the library would throw a big bash when the renovations are complete, Goetsch said “most definitely.”

“We will definitely do something to celebrate being reopened,” Goetsch said.

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A water fountain lies disassembled on the second floor of Hale Library. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

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.

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The second floor of Hale Library has been stripped of carpet, ceiling tiles and furniture. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

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.

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I’m Rafael Garcia, co-editor-in-chief at the Collegian. I’m a junior in journalism, campus visit coordinator for the JMC Ambassadors, and the vice president of social events and communication for the Edgerley-Franklin Urban Leaders. I come from Emporia, Kansas, home of the Twinkie, world’s best tasting tap water and journalist William Allen White. I’m passionate about journalism because I love people and their stories, and I want to find and tell those stories here on campus. In my spare time, I’m a Chihuahua wrangler, doughnut enthusiast, Netflix watcher and racquetball player. Contact me at rgarcia@kstatecollegian.com.