Hale Library could partially reopen as soon as next fall, dean of libraries says

The Great Room that once was a quiet location for students to study, is now vacant and has scaffolding throughout the room. Hale has been closed for four months, but could partially reopen as soon as next year. (Katelin Woods | Collegian Media Group)

While Dean of libraries Lori Goetsch said there wasn’t loss of life or injury in the fire, the library experienced “significant” damage, which forced the closure of the building for the foreseeable future.

It’s been almost four months since Hale Library was severely damaged by fire, smoke and water damage in May, and it will be several months before the building is even partially open for students again.

But K-State Libraries is hopeful that the building can reopen its lower floor by fall 2019, dean of libraries Lori Goetsch said in an address to the Student Governing Association.

Goetsch said Hale is scheduled to open in shifts with the lower-level of the building opening in the fall semester of 2019. This earlier re-opening is due to the pre-existing plan to renovate that floor; other areas are scheduled to be re-opened during the academic year of 2020.

The delayed opening includes the Great Room, also known as the “Harry Potter” room.

“[The Great Room] took significant damage,” Goetsch said. “The fire was right above this room and this is the only place in the library where the fire actually broke through to the building proper.”

“Nobody asked for a disaster like this,” she said. “This isn’t certainly anything we were hoping for or planning on, but now that we have it, we want to realize the opportunity of being able to do some different things in Hale Library.”

The fire, which blazed the building on May 22, only directly damaged the Great Room, Goetsch said, but side effects of the fire, such as the gathering smoke and the thousands of gallons of water pumped into the building created a kind of “soot” that coated many parts of the building.

Books coated in the soot had to be sent to a preservation company and are being stored in units in Manhattan as well as the Lime Stone Caves in Kansas City.

“I feel baddest I think for [freshman] because they don’t even have the experience of using a library,” Goetsch said. “I feel bad for the seniors who are going to graduate without being able to spend their last year in Hale.”

“Last, but not least, we’re still here,” Goetsch said.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.