© 2021
In touch with the world ... at home on the High Plains
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
KJJP-FM 105.7 is currently operating at 15% of power, limiting its signal strength and range in the Amarillo-Canyon area. This due to complicated problems with its very old transmitter. Local engineers are continuing to work on the transmitter and are consulting with the manufacturer to diagnose and fix the problems. We apologize for this disruption and service as we work as quickly as possible to restore KJPFM to full power. In the mean time you can always stream either the HPPR Mix service or HPPR Connect service using the player above or the HPPR app.

Kansas State University Rebuilding Fire-Gutted Hale Library

A portion of Kansas State University’s fire-gutted Hale Library is expected to reopen this fall.

After months of demolition work, the restoration project has moved into the rebuilding phase. This will be the fourth time Hale Library, K-State’s flagship library, endured extensive renovations.

A fire struck the library’s roof on May 22, 2018. While the flames were contained to the roof, the university says several hundreds of thousands of gallons of water flowed through the 550,000-sq. ft. building during the firefighting efforts.

About 85% of the library and most of its contents were damaged. It took crews more than eight months to remove debris like ceiling tiles, carpet and drywall. The wiring was also lost, and in some areas, entire walls were stripped down to the metal studs.

Signs of progress are apparent inside the building now: Walls are going up, and crews are reinstalling wiring and other infrastructure. There is a new entrance.

Credit Kansas State University

K-State Dean of Libraries Lori Goetsch says it is encouraging to see the first floor transformation.

“We have a café on that floor, and we can see where the café space is going to be, and where the hallway is going to go," she says. "We have a number of group study rooms on that floor and we can start to see the layout of how those rooms are going to be arranged."

There will also be a multipurpose meeting room.

While the library is being rebuilt, restoration experts at ten sites are cleaning smoke and soot damage from more than a million books and library materials. The collection was removed from the library after the fire and moved into long-term storage in Kansas and Texas.

Goetsch says each item is being cleaned individually by hand.

“They get vacuumed and wiped down with a chemical sponge, and then they are put into an ozone chamber that takes the smoke smell out of them,” she says.

Goetsch says less than 1% of Hale’s collection was lost in the fire. She says most rare and valuable materials in the university’s archives and special collections were located just below the fire line and experienced only very minor smoke damage.

The university continues to work through the claims process with insurance companies. Insurance is expected to cover like-for-like replacement costs.

Goetsch says it may be a while before a final cost estimate for the renovations is determined.

“It’s an amazing amount of detail that they need to go through in terms of looking at all the unsalvaged materials, everything that was lost in the building, and valuing it,” Goetsch says.

A report by the Kansas Board of Regents estimated the library's replacement to cost $109 million, with renovations that could total $60 million.

Hale Library, K-State’s first freestanding campus library, was built in 1927. Goetsch says an addition came in 1950, with building renovations and expansions in 1970 and 1996.

The library will reopen in phases, with the first floor opening this fall. The entire building renovation is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.

The demolition phase took more than eight months.
Kansas State University /
The demolition phase took more than eight months.

Copyright 2019 KMUW | NPR for Wichita

Deborah joined the news team at KMUW in September 2014 as a news reporter. She spent more than a dozen years working in news at both public and commercial radio and television stations in Ohio, West Virginia and Detroit, Michigan. Before relocating to Wichita in 2013, Deborah taught news and broadcasting classes at Tarrant County College in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area.