For the first time in more than a year, part of Hale Library will be open to the public. The Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons, a first floor renovation, will open officially on Wednesday, Aug. 28.
After the roof fire on May 22, 2018 wreaked water and smoke damage through the entire building, 85 percent of Hale Library’s interior had to be gutted, Lori Goetsch, dean of libraries, said.
“We’ve been working with architects and contractors over the past 12 months or so to reconceive the building and make plans for the restoration of the entire facility,” Goetsch said.
The first floor will also be home to an innovation lab financed by the Sunderland Foundation and a cafe operated by Housing and Dining Services, but those areas will not be ready for the first floor’s debut next week.
New installments on Hale’s first floor include 14 collaboration rooms. Students can reserve the rooms for study groups or collaborative projects.
“That’s a feature that we never had in Hale, and so students would be very creative about creating their own spaces with whiteboards and furniture and that sort of thing,” Goetsch said. “So we recognized that need and decided this would be a good chance to fill it.”
Some library staff will get settled in Hale on Monday and Tuesday before the public opening, but many will still be spread out in their temporary offices across campus as renovation continues on the upper floors of the building. The Library Help Desk in the K-State Student Union will remain there through the fall semester, but Goetsch said that desk will relocate to Hale in the spring.
In a recent blog post, K-State Libraries announced its initial first floor hours, but wrote that 24 hour access to first floor study spaces 5 days a week would come later. Goetsch said the goal is to have 24/5 operation in place when midterms roll around.
“It’s still a little up in the air,” Goetsch said. “We’re hiring an overnight supervisor, and we need to get that position filled and that person trained.”
For now, starting Wednesday, the building’s hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
For the rest of Hale, renovation work will continue during the academic year with the goals of opening most of the second floor in spring 2020 and the entire building by the end of 2020.
Goetsch said the final aspects of the renovation will be moving the 1.5 million books back into the building and fully restoring and uncovering the murals in the Great Room.
“The murals in that room will be the last thing that will be restored once the rest of the building is finished,” Goetsch said. “They’re currently boxed; they’re covered so that they’re not affected by construction dust and other activities that are going on.”
As for the books, cleaning is still underway, and many are stored in caves underneath Kansas City, Missouri as they await their move back into Hale. For students, the wait is almost over.
I am genuinely PUMPED! https://t.co/SPSWAOGO70
— Ben Trickey (@spacemanlincoln) August 22, 2019
“The students that we’ve heard from a very eager to get back in the building,” Goetsch said. “Last year, seniors were really disappointed about not being able to spend their last year in a library. … [Students] have challenges finding study space. Basically that’s why we’re opening the first floor is to get as much additional study space up and running on campus.”