W.E.B. DuBois library to replace all elevators

By R.P. Hitt

The University of Massachusetts’ W.E.B. DuBois Library is undergoing extensive renovations which will replace the elevators that have transported students between its many floors for 30 years.

According to Terry Warner, assistant director of administrative services at the library, the project will be ongoing until the fall semester of 2012, when it is projected to be completed.

Warner described the plan as a “total replacement” for the elevator system.

“We are not only replacing the elevators,” said Warner, “we’re replacing the doors, the lights, the cables…everything.”

Along with replacing the elevators and their accessory components, the library is adding magnetic doors to the elevator lobbies on every floor for fire safety.

“This project is more than replacing the elevators,” said Warner. “It’s about life safety improvement.”

According to Warner, in the event of a fire, the magnetic doors will be released and will close off the elevator lobbies, preventing the smoke from reaching anyone near the elevators. The magnetic doors can be pushed open by anyone stuck in the hallways around the elevators, trapping the smoke, but not the students.

Currently elevator No. 5 is being renovated, and the 30-year-old car has already been disassembled. According to Warner, the library is waiting for the new machines to arrive.

UMass students agree the project seems to be an excellent idea.

“I think [the project] will be helpful,” said Julie Dugan, a senior history major. “Unfortunately I won’t be here to use them.”

“What I have learned from the elevator technicians is that the new digital controllers that run the cars use less energy than the old controllers and are more efficient,” said Warner via email. She also mentioned that the replacement of the current lights with LED lights will further reduce energy consumption.

“Sounds good,” said student Neev Blume. “If it’s more energy efficient, why not?”

Each elevator takes about 18 to 20 weeks to completely renovate, and the elevators will be replaced one by one.

“Theoretically we should always have four cars running at a time,” said Warner.

The new elevators will be able to travel to any floor in the hopes of cutting down wait time for students and faculty looking to catch a ride. Currently, elevators No.1 and No. 2 on the left hand side, travel to the Learning Commons, the entrance level and to floors 16 through 26. The right hand side elevators, No.3, No.4 and No. 5, travel to the Learning Commons, entrance level and floors two through 16.

Students and anyone else taking advantage of the elevators will, after renovations, have the luxury of only having to press one button on the main floor to get the elevator they want.

The library faculty will also be able to track the location of the new cars using desktop software, but, according to Warner there will be no cameras installed in the elevator cars.

Warner elaborated a bit on the rationale behind the renovations, which were paid for by the Commonwealth at a cost of about $3.4 million.

“They are 30-year-old elevators,” said Warner. “There has been a lot of wear and tear over time, and [we] need to replace them.”

Another upcoming project will be the expansion of the library café. The project will be done in conjunction with and paid for by Auxiliary Services.

The expanded café will be on the first floor on the north side of the library, the former location of the Circulation desk. According to Warner, construction will start soon, as the café is scheduled to open in April.

According to Warner, the new café will offer a wider selection than the current café and stay open five days a week and all hours of the day.

Bobby Hitt can be reached at [email protected]