This fall, K-State students may be able to study in Hale Library and grab coffee at the new in-building Housing and Dining shop, roughly 16 months after a fire shut down the building.
Dean of Libraries Lori Goetsch said on Friday in light of the one-year anniversary of the campus’ central library closing, she’s excited now that it’s starting to take shape.
Wednesday will mark one year since the fire happened on May 22, 2018.
The library renovations began early this year after the recovery period, cleaning out all the supplies and water-damaged materials.
“It’s very exciting to see it take shape,” Goetsch said. “It’s been stressful to wait and see the shape start to happen. The recovery was difficult for me — as it was for all the librarians — it was difficult and sad to see the chairs and tables… get thrown into the dumpster. It was unsettling.”
The library’s books are spread across 10 locations, including two places at Manhattan. Goetsch said the other eight spots are caves under the Kansas City area, although she declined to elaborate.
Goetsch said library officials and Housing and Dining officials recently reached an agreement for the university department to open a shop in the building on the first floor, not unlike the Cornerstone Coffee & Bakery in Wefald Hall. Previously, Einstein Bros Bagels had a location in the library.
“Students can grab a breakfast item or lunch or a coffee,” she said.
Goetsch said they still believe most of the first floor will be open in the fall semester and the construction projects are still on schedule.
The current schedule has the library being completed by early 2021. Portions of the first floor are expected to reopen in fall, followed by the second and fifth floor in spring. In fall 2020, the third and fourth floors are scheduled to be finished, and the historic Farrell Library — the original portion of the building from 1927 — as well as the entire building, should be completed in late 2020 or early 2021.
Goetsch said even though the fire, deemed accidental by fire officials during roof repairs, occurred last year, some areas of Farrell Library are still wet. She said limestone and plaster don’t dry quickly.
As for the murals in the Great Room, often referred to as the Harry Potter room, they are completely covered by wooden boxes to keep them safe during construction. A secondary floor several dozen feet in the air brings construction workers close to the ceilings, which are being repaired. A hole remains, when the fire-burned wood peeks out.
Around the building, tables are stacked in rooms to keep them unharmed in construction. Rooms formerly full of office staff are filled with scrap metal and piping. Large bags of fire-retardant spray sit in stacks, waiting to be applied to the steel. Workers apply fire-retardant paint to the walls and ceilings, covering fire-treated plywood.
Goetsch said staff are still in 10 locations around campus, which has been both a blessing and a curse.
“Some of our librarians work with academic departments, and it’s provided an opportunity for them to get offices in the department and build relations in that area,” she said. “We try and have a staff meeting every other week because there’s no running into each other in the hallways anymore where you can just have a conversation.”