Two floors of the largest library on campus are off-limits to patrons this month as the Olin Library Fire Safety Project continues. The fifth and sixth levels of Olin will be inaccessible for the next six to eight weeks to allow the installation of fire safety equipment.
By next fall, there will be sprinklers and fire dampeners on every floor, said Kornelia Tancheva, director of Olin and Uris Libraries.
Since the project began last June, the building’s basement and seventh floors have been brought into compliance with building codes that require the fire suppression equipment.
The next phase of construction poses the largest potential disruption to the library, since it will renovate the main floor, where the circulation and reference desks are located.
Tancheva said that because the first floor gets the most visitors, construction in this area will not begin until Dec. 17, when many students will have already departed for winter break. She expressed hope that most of the major work will be done by the start of the new semester.
“Olin is always full, so we don’t expect that there will be no patrons [during winter break]; but of all possible times, this appears to be the slowest, and that’s why it was chosen,” she said.
However, Tancheva said that the main-level construction would not be completely done until “well into the spring semester.” The coming semester will also bring closings of the third and fourth floors.
Construction on the first floor will close off only one portion at a time to minimize disruption. The circulation desk will be open to serve all patrons when the reference desk area is closed off, and vice versa, Tancheva said.
While floors are under construction, patrons wishing to check out books housed on those floors must order them through the circulation desk and wait until the next afternoon for the book to be retrieved.
Tancheva said that her office has done its best to minimize the inconvenience to patrons by getting them their books as quickly as possible. In addition, graduate students who use carrels on inaccessible floors have been temporarily relocated to Uris Library’s Kirby Room, which is temporarily closed to all other patrons to accommodate the new occupants.
Despite any inconveniences the construction may cause, Tancheva emphasized the importance of ensuring that both the books and the patrons of Olin Library would be safe in the event of a fire.
“The importance of the project cannot be overstated,” Tancheva said. “It will … protect the people and the collections in case of a fire. This is a very complicated project and undoubtedly presents difficulties for both staff and patrons, but at the end of it, the building will be much safer.”
Original Author: Eliza LaJoie