Kansas State University


K-State Parents and Family Association

We’re Still Here: Hale Library closes, but services continue

A fire on May 22 caused significant damage to Hale Library, and the building is closed for the 2018-19 school year. According to Dean of Libraries Lori Goetsch, the damage occurred on multiple fronts.

“The fire was isolated to the roof, but several hundreds of thousands of gallons of water flowed through the building during the firefighting efforts,” she said. “In addition, soot and smoke damaged everything in the building, including most of the books.”

A large amount of furniture, shelving, carpet and drop ceiling throughout the 550,000-square-foot building had to be disposed of. Sections of drywall were removed: In some places, only the bottom two feet were damaged by water; in others, all of the drywall was wet, and the walls were stripped down to the studs. The scope of the damage can be difficult to comprehend.

The fourth floor of Hale Library has been cleared of books, furniture, carpet, drop ceiling, and some sections of drywall. (August 2018)

“While it was a devastating summer, we’re taking this opportunity to make plans for a new Hale Library for K-State’s future,” Goetsch said. “In the meantime, our people are still here and eager to work with students.”

“When I think about the spirit of the K-State Family, I think about our librarians’ passion for educating and supporting our campus community. When your student has a research assignment, whether it’s an essay for an intro English class or a thesis in their final year, our librarians can make the process go more smoothly and successfully.”

Students can make that personal connection with a librarian through Ask a Librarian, a service that’s available via chat, email, text, phone or in person.

In his letter to campus on the first day of classes, President Myers wrote to reassure the K-State community, “While recovery of this important and historic library building will take quite some time, nearly all library and IT services are available at new locations.”

A few of those services include

  • Computer labs and printing
  • IT assistance with passwords, software and more
  • Ask a librarian (reference)
  • Interlibrary loan
  • Course reserves, including short-term textbook loans

“We are extremely concerned about the stress that Hale Library’s closure places on our K-State students,” Goetsch said. “We’ve worked non-stop this summer to set up alternate study locations, computer labs and printing stations, and we’ve set up a help desk in the Union, which is one of the places students can borrow textbooks on reserve or pick up their interlibrary loans.”

Dean of Libraries Lori Goetsch gives an overview of the plans to restore the Great Room, which is currently filled with scaffolding so workers can repair the roof and ceiling. (June 2018)

But what about the 1.5 million books and other items that were in Hale Library’s collection?

“A very small percentage of the books are not salvageable because of mold damage, but almost all of them are going to be okay,” Goetsch said. “By late September, we’d moved the entire collection out of the building, which was an enormous task. Everything that’s going back in the building post-renovation has to be cleaned and treated to eliminate the soot staining and smoke odor.”

“Since Hale Library will be closed for the foreseeable future, we’re storing and tracking hundreds of thousands of boxes of books in offsite warehouses and shifting them around so the clean books aren’t re-contaminated by the books that are still dirty.”

In the meantime, the Libraries will work to borrow the resources our students and faculty need through interlibrary loan.

Up-to-date information about locations of library and IT services is available at K-State Libraries.

Maps of all printing, computer and study locations are available at maps.  Just click on the facets under “Hale recovery” to identify each service or study location.

A leaded glass window is reflected in a pool of water on the Great Room floor. (May 2018)

If you’d like more in-depth information about the books, preservation of historic spaces and the Libraries’ vision for rebuilding Hale Library plus amazing behind-the-scenes photos, subscribe to the blog, Hale Library: The Next Chapter.