Restoration in progress: A look inside Hale Library

The HVAC unit area on Hale Library's roof gets a new paint job on Friday. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

Today, Kansas State University closes out an academic year without access to the Hale Library building. On May 22, 2018, a fire broke out on Hale’s roof during repairs. While the actual fire damage was minimal, smoke and water damage affected almost every part of the building.

Now, nearly a year later, some parts of the 1927 Farrell section of the building are still wet, Lori Goetsch, dean of libraries, said.

With tables stacked around the edges of the room, a sign affixed to a column in Hale 212 warns construction workers on May 17, 2019. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

“The first and second floors are still drying out almost a year later from the actual day of the fire,” Goetsch said. “They’re limestone and plaster, and that just takes a long, long time to dry.”

Despite the residual effects of the fire, students and staff will be back in Hale Library soon. According to the estimated renovation schedule, the Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons on the first floor will open in fall 2019. In spring 2020, Hale’s second floor will open, then the fifth.

Renovations are expected to wrap up before 2021.

New walls are under construction on the first floor of Hale Library. This area will turn into a cafe. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

The first floor will feature group study rooms, a direct entryway from the outside and a cafe operated by Housing and Dining Services, Goetsch said.

“It’ll be similar but different to Cornerstone that they have over in Wefald Hall,” Goetsch said.

Workmen install piping in the ceiling of Hale Library's first floor on May 17, 2019. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

While the construction crew works on renovating the first floor, the second floor of Hale is still in the demolition phase. Almost all furniture was removed months ago, leaving piles of rubble and sideways file cabinets. The main area of the third floor is also fairly empty save for the support columns and white bags of fireproofing insulation.

A pile of rubble rests on the second floor of Hale Library on May 17, 2019. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

“We’ve had seniors tell us that they really miss spending their last year in Hale and are promising to come back and see what it looks like,” Goetsch said. “This building means so much to this community, and particularly to the students … we look forward to returning it to them.”

The interior second floor entryway in Hale Library. Nearly a year after the fire, the security scanners remain. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

In Hale’s most notable room, the Great Room, scaffolding is set up in three long rows stretching the length of the space to support a platform roughly ten feet above floor level. The room’s iconic murals are currently shielded with wooden boxes to avoid damage while the Great Room is restored.

The south wall of Hale Library's Great Room on May 17, 2019. The Great Room's iconic murals are covered with wooden boxes to protect them as reconstruction takes place. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

On the raised platform, known as the “dance floor,” construction crew members can reach the Great Room’s high ceiling. Up there, a metal structure provides the skeleton for a new ceiling.

Up on a raised platform nicknamed the "dance floor," one can see the incomplete ceiling of Hale Library's Great Room. Photo taken on May 17, 2019. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

See more photos from inside Hale on the Collegian Media Group Photography website.

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.