MANHATTAN—K-State Libraries’ University Archives are being moved back into the historic Hale Library, as the building reopens all its floors to students and the public this spring.
All five floors of the library are slated to open during this current spring semester as construction on the library is completed. Archives and special collections are normally located on the fifth floor of Hale Library, but the fire on the roof of the building in 2018 forced archival staff to move materials while the library underwent restoration.
K-State archivist Veronica Denison said the department was lucky in that none of the special collections were damaged by fire, smoke or water. Retrieving anything from the special collections is currently a bit difficult however, as items in the collection are partly stashed in several caves in the Kansas City region for safekeeping.
“Most of our collections are on pallets ... we don’t have access to some of the items in our collections,” Denison said.
Once all floors of the library are open, Denison said the archives office will start moving in the special collections after that. She said she hopes to have most of the collection materials, which includes everything from newspaper clippings to the 38,000-volume cookery collection moved back in by springtime. She said she gets a lot of requests from people whose family members may have attended K-State, seeking photos or articles of their loved ones.
“Being able to connect with family who’ve passed is big,” Denison said. “I got a request recently, where a person’s father was not a student at K-State, but during World War II we had cadets on campus for military training. ... I was able to find information on their father’s unit in our newspapers.”
Denison said the person was incredibly grateful for her assistance.
“I think people just want to be able to connect with the past, or their family members, or even something they find interesting,” Denison said. “They just want to connect with that person on some kind of level.”
Students are encouraged to donate stories of their experiences to archives, and Denison said there are steps being taken within the archival profession to make archives not only more accessible — and more reflective — of the communities they represent.
“That’s why I want to work a lot more with students,” Denison said. “Their experience at K-State is important and needs documenting.”