Hale Library

The Manhattan Fire Department responded to reports of smoke at Hale Library on Monday afternoon. The smoke turned out to be construction dust from ongoing restoration work at the library after a May 2018 fire ruined the building’s interior with water and soot damage.

When the Manhattan Fire Department rushed onto K-State’s campus and settled next to Hale Library on Monday afternoon, the university community must have been on edge.

After a May 2018 attic fire burned through the ceiling in the historic portion of the library, construction crews are gradually bringing the library back online, and Monday’s reports of smoke turned out to be construction dust, fire officials said.

While last year’s fire was largely constrained to the ceiling, the subsequent firefighting efforts essentially flooded the building, ruining much of the library’s interior. Since then, construction workers have stripped the building of its dampened carpeting, drywall and other fixtures, and restoration specialists have directed their efforts to salvaging the library’s 1.5 million books by freeze-drying them.

As part of its multiyear library restoration plan, K-State announced earlier Monday that it plans to open the library’s first floor early this fall. The Dave and Ellie Everitt Learning Commons will serve as a study space initially, with hundreds of seats, multiple printers and 14 group study rooms available to students.

The first floor will open with limited hours initially, but once staffing is in place, the study space will transition to being continuously open from Sunday to Friday afternoons, and 1-5 p.m. Saturdays. University officials said they would announce an opening date soon.

Per the university’s timeline, the second floor will open in the early spring semester, with project completion expected by the end of 2020.