MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNT) – K-State crews are busy at work preparing for Hale Library to open its doors for the first time in more than a year. This comes after the state fire marshal said a fire ripped through the building, causing $70 million in damage and forcing the university to rebuild.

More than a year of work has gone into the recovery effort since the devastating fire tore through the library last May. Dean of Libraries Lori Goetsch recounts how she felt when she first saw the damage the flames left behind.

“It was quite shocking. I think we were all surprised about how much damage there was,” Goetsch said.  

Now part of the library is scheduled to open up at the end of August when students return to campus.

“I think the students will really embrace coming back into the building. They’ve expressed a lot of interest in what’s going on. I think we’re hearing very positive things and I think they will come back home, come back home to Hale,” Goetsch said.  

Doctoral student Alayna Colburn said the iconic building’s return is a big deal for her and fellow students.

“It’s a figure within the K-State community. When students come by to tour, we always make sure to bring them to Hale Library,” Colburn said.

The library won’t be quite the same Hale that they’re used to.

“I think once we realized that things were going to be pretty dramatically changed here, we also noticed we had a great opportunity to do things differently,” Goetsch said.  

The renovated library will include new study spaces, a different layout, and updated equipment.

“It will be exciting to see the changes that have also been introduced as part of the reconstruction,” Colburn said.

Just the first floor is opening up at the end fof August. The goal is to have the second floor open in the spring. They’re hoping to have the whole library back open by December of 2020.

The recovery project is expensive and it’s taken a lot of fundraising to make it happen. While the university said they are working to get insurance money, they also rely on donations. If you want to donate, you can do that here.