Editor’s note: On Jan. 21, Hale Library staff announced only the first floor will open on Jan. 25. The remainder of the building will open on Feb. 8 once construction is complete. The story has been updated to reflect this change.
The first floor of Hale Library reopens on Jan. 25 after closing over winter break to finish construction. On Feb. 8, the remainder of the building will open minus the Special Collections and the new Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab. The May 22, 2018 fire caused extensive water and smoke damage to the building, the furniture and books housed within.
Now, dean of libraries Lori Goetsch said some books are once again in Hale. Books on music and music theory returned to shelves in mid-January.
Mike Haddock, associate dean, said Hale is starting to look like a library again.
“The renovation itself has been challenging,” Goetsch said. “About 85 percent of the building needed some type of renovation, restoration — at least a new carpet, a new coat of paint — and so the there’s very little in the building that’s gone untouched.”
Some furniture that was untouched by the smoke and water damage was cleaned by ServiceMaster and returned to the building. However, much of the furniture is new.
Goetsch said they got quotes on cleaning the original white shelves from the Library of Congress, but it was cheaper to buy new shelving than use the chemical needed to remove the smoke damage. New mobile compact shelves are located on the fifth, providing room for the large collections in a small space.
“They are all pretty much set up,” Haddock said.
The “We Are the Dream” mural on the fourth floor was restored, as well as the four murals in the Great Room representing the original Kansas State academic focuses — agriculture, industry, the arts and the home.
Rachel Gilberti, fine arts conservator, led a team from John Canning & Co. to restore the murals.
“It’s a very meticulous and very painstaking process,” Goetsch said.
Some new additions to the library include a washroom and meditation room on the third floor, a juvenile literature room on the first floor and studios for audio and video recordings on the first floor.
Seating throughout Hale will be spaced out for COVID-19 precautions.
Although Hale will reopen physically, librarians will still offer digital services.
“I think we’ve crossed into that virtual environment and we won’t go all the way back,” Goetsch said. “I think it’s helped us improve our online services, our chat service, our interlibrary loan service. We will keep all the good things we learned from this experience.”
To access materials in Special Collections, students, staff and faculty can make appointments to visit the library and use materials. Goetsch said Special Collections could open completely later this semester.
However, for the future, Hale Library staff plans to make the Special Collections more accessible.
“There is potential with our digitization lab to digitize our Special Collections materials and make it more widely available,” Haddock said.
Goetsch said they planned to do this for awhile, but the renovations gave the library staff a chance to promote it to a potential donor who agreed to fund the project.
“So we’re really happy about that,” Goetsch said. “We’re able to hire a digital archivist and they’ll get up and running this spring.”
The Sunderland Foundation Innovation Lab, made possible by a grant from Sunderland Foundation, will provide students with access to technology such as virtual reality equipment, cameras and a multimedia lab. It will open in phases, with a complete opening expected in fall 2021.
Goetsch said they plan on holding a virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 15.