Goetsch immediately called back home and talked through the situation with her staff. Fire alarms and visits from the fire department aren't uncommon at the library and other campus buildings -- the buildings are prone to small microwave popcorn fires and smoke from malfunctioning HVAC units.
But as Goetsch talked on the phone, she began to realize the full extent of what had happened, and she flew home and arrived to a special K-State president's cabinet meeting the next morning. She and president
For better or for worse, K-State's central library had entered a new chapter in its storied history on campus.
Since then, K-State and its insurance company estimate the entire renovation project has cost
Now, as the library prepares to bring students back into its study spaces and book stacks next semester, library staff members also must contend with the new challenge of keeping the students safe from a virus that has shut down society for the past two months.
The library staffers had originally planned to reopen the building in phases as renovation work wraps up on each floor. Workers finished construction on much of the first floor in August, and students were invited back into the mostly bare study areas and collaboration spaces on that floor.
The first floor also will eventually hold the
Library staff were set to open the second floor on the Monday after spring break, but the students never came. Instead, they were sent home by the university, initially for two weeks, then for the rest of the semester in a bid to keep students, faculty and the
Goetsch said construction is still on-track for opening most of the library by the end of the year, with the exception of the
After they were cleaned of moisture and smoke residue, the library's physical materials are now waiting in two locations around
Even during the building's closure, Goetsch said the library has continued to provide services for students, and that helped the library adjust operations as the entire campus transitioned to remote operations in March.
"In my email signature, I say, 'The physical library is closed, but the digital library, however, is open,'" she said. "We have so many resources that are online, and students and faculty can do a lot of work without the physical building being open."
In looking to the future, Goetsch said library staffers are working in tandem with K-State's central administration to plan for what fall operations could look like. She said the library has removed some furniture to maintain social distancing inside the building, and employees also are exploring using disposable keyboard covers. Masks will likely be required in the building.
Goetsch said she's heard from students and faculty who are eager to have the library back soon.
"It means a great deal to the university community," she said.
As for herself and her staff, the librarians are ready to be back with their books.
"We haven't all been in the same place for two years, and it will be going on three years before we're all back together," she said.
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