Library improving elevator system, accessibility

The library will be updating its three elevators one at a time. ORACLE PHOTO/MARIA RANONI

The USF Library is hoping to elevate its student experience by updating some of its features.

A “Please Pardon the Inconvenience” poster board was placed in front of the USF Library elevator doors on the first day of the spring semester.

The poster board announced its $1 million worth of renovations which will take place throughout the 2019 school year to improve machines and controls, increase accessibility upgrades, new guides and cables and a cab interior.

The year-long project is estimated to be completed by the summer of 2020, according to Dean of USF Libraries Todd Chavez.

The project began in August when the construction on the decades-old elevators began.

Most of the electrical rewiring and mechanical components were done behind the scenes since the control room is located on the roof, according to Chavez. The project is expected to last longer since the construction is only being done on one of the three elevator carts at a time.

The maintenance completed so far included replacing the old cabling and guides, which will result in a smoother transition between the floors, Chavez said.

Construction on the elevators will be between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. The elevator company, Thyssenkrupp, is required to fill out a noise forecast sheet whenever there is projected hammering or drilling in that particular week.

Chavez said the library will adjust the construction schedule to avoid disturbing students during densely populated times, such as during finals or testing in the Smart Lab.

Although the interior of the elevators seem okay at first glance, Chavez said the machinery generated a variety of issues, which caused the carts to be out of service for months at a time. Due to the dated equipment, he said the elevator parts would have to be handmade.

Chavez said the announcement in front of the elevators has a picture of the replica of the cab interior design which will include a stainless steel ceiling and paneling, LED lighting and new flooring, as well as a gray color scheme.

In regards to accessibility, the announcement said door chimes, lanterns and indicators would be upgraded.

Students with Disabilities Services (SDS) Director Deborah McCarthy said chimes are a modern feature that are used for people with little to low vision to hear what floor the elevator is on. Braille or raised numbers for tracing are also common elevator features for accessibility.

Chavez said the new elevator upgrades comply with the updated Americans with Disabilities Act regulations. Currently, there are audio chimes and accessibility options, but it is hard to navigate with the current chime system and dim lighting, according to Chavez.

“People outside the elevator are going to be able to see the indicators better with the new lighting and will be able to hear when they are on certain floors with the new chimes,” Chavez said.

After complaints from SDS, Chavez said there have been minor adjustments to the chime system for the time being. However, full replacements won’t happen until the renovation project is fully completed.

McCarthy said most of the issues that have been relayed to her from SDS students are about uncourteous students and entering an elevator with adapted equipment such as a wheelchair.

“The concerns that SDS students have mentioned to the library are not about the equipment itself, but it is important that they are upgraded according to building codes,” McCarthy said. “The concerns that I hear from students who are trying to use any elevators on campus is about not stepping aside or allowing the extra time necessary for someone with equipment to get in the elevator.”

Chavez said students should have no issues in regards to the project renovations, however, the construction does entail a tedious and long process. He said future projects include updating the air conditioning system and the fourth floor of the library to replicate the fifth floor renovations done last year.

“The only disruption students would receive is the fact that there would be only two working elevators at a time, but we do have the large staircase,” Chavez said. “By the end of the project, it will be well worth it for students.”