Hale’s first floor set to open Wednesday with new Everitt Learning Commons

Hale Library was named for Joe and Joyce Hale, who gave money to finish expansion of the Farrell Library in 1997. After closing in May 2018 after a roof fire, the first floor will be open to the public starting Aug. 28. (Archive photo by Parker Robb | Collegian Media Group)

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.

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The first-floor direct entryway is a new novelty for K-State students. Previously to access the first floor, patrons had to enter through the second floor entryway and walk downstairs, or enter the first floor doors, go upstairs, then back downstairs. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

Moving forward

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.”

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New seating and study areas are installed in Hale Library's first floor. The space is set to publicly open on Wednesday, Aug. 28. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

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.

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The first floor stairwell will be cordoned off by a new barrier, which will let Hale Library keep the first floor open 24/5 while the rest of the building is closed. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

“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.

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The first floor of Hale has many unique lighting features embedded or suspended from the ceiling. Gray and purple are the common colors for the interior design. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

Last steps

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.

“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.”

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.