Hale renovations showcase K-State community’s strength

Scaffolding surrounds the northwest corner of Hale Library on the Kansas State campus on April 5, 2019. (Dene Dryden | Collegian Media Group)

Hale Library has seen vast change and development since its original institution in 1927 as Farrell Library, but the beloved building’s most recent makeover is unlike any before it.

Described by Lori Goetsch, dean of Hale, in an earlier interview as “more contemporary … with modernized furniture and features,” she said, “We like to think of it as a next-generation library.”

First floor renovations in the Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons feature 14 study rooms, numerous floor-to-ceiling whiteboards and various new seating options. It’s a space tailor-made for Kansas State students to learn and collaborate effectively.

Goetsch said the renovations balanced student and staff input, budget, logistics and the the Hale of days past.

“You’ll [still] see some ‘old’ Hale features as we renovate the rest of the building,” Goetsch said.

Jansen Penny, student body president and senior in industrial engineering, said Hale’s renovations embody K-State’s essence.

“The first floor of Hale Library perfectly exemplifies our mission at Kansas State University,” Penny said.

“On the outside, the limestone façade and unique architecture shows off our historical background in higher education,” he continued. “The inside boasts a modern, fresh and practical space that shows off our technology-driven mission and state of the art education that we offer.”

While the modernized interior will be a cohesive theme throughout the rest of the upper levels of the library, Goetsch said, designers took great care to recreate the traditional aesthetic of one room in particular: the Great Room.

“The intent is to restore the Great Room in the tradition of its original 1927 design, look and feel,” Goetsch said. “We will have more power outlets and other updated features, but it will still look like the ‘Harry Potter Room’ that we all love.”

Goetsch said renovation priorities were determined immediately after the fire.

“We knew that the top priorities were communicating to the university and wider community, relocating staff, getting an information service point established, and getting recovery underway in the building,” she said.

Goetsch said managing the damage and restoration of over 1.5 million items inside Hale was one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. It’s an ongoing process, but one Goetsch hopes will be completed by the end of this year.

Over the past year, library services have been dispersed across campus.

“Over the past year, many campus entities have worked tirelessly to provide resources for students during Hale’s absence,” Penny said. “Numerous departments opened up office space to house Hale staff and the K-State Student Union opened up more conference rooms to study, became home to the Library Help Desk and integrated new technology throughout the building.”

While students anticipate Hale’s full reopening, many are just as excited to be back inside the library, even if just on the first floor.

“I think that the library is the heartbeat of campus — it is the ‘go-to’ spot in between class and for group projects,” Colby Works, senior in kinesiology, said. “There was definitely something missing from campus when Hale was under construction. There is just something special about studying on campus and walking through the library and seeing friends.”

While most reactions to the renovations are positive, the change has been viewed as drastic by some.

“I will admit that the renovations give Hale a new feeling, for better or worse,” Works said. “I think it’s irrational not to view the change as an improvement from the previous Hale. Once all of the floors are open, I think people’s opinions will shift to a more positive light.”