The sign on the broken escalator says use the elevator. The sign on the broken elevator says take the stairs. This is what visitors and staff of the downtown library are currently dealing with.
The elevators and escalators at the Birmingham Public Library Central Branch are out of service and have been for quite some time.
Those who can, climb the stairs.
“It’s a challenge. It’s like a work-out,” says patron Lacy Bonner, who comes to the library almost every day to use the computers, located on the third floor. Bonner says he usually takes the elevator located in the Linn Henley Library across the street. “But I wanted to get some exercise today. I never exert myself like that and that’s a big exertion.”
Those who can’t walk up the stairs have two choices: Use the elevator in the Linn Henley Library and walk across the third-floor bridge into the main building, or be escorted by a library staff member in the service elevator that would otherwise be off limits to patrons.
Angela Fisher Hall, director of the Birmingham Public Library system, says the escalators have been out of service for over a year and the elevators for about two weeks.
“Usually when they go down, the city sends someone over right away to get them repaired,” explains Hall. “This time the repairs are going to cost so much that we really have to get it all approved by the city council. And so that’s what’s taking so long.”
At their meeting today, May 17, the Birmingham City Council approved funds to repair the elevators. The cost per elevator is just over $33,000 and repairs should start immediately.
And the escalators? Well, Hall says, that’s a different story.
“At this point they cannot be repaired. And so they have to be replaced,” she says.
Hall says there are plans in the works for a major renovation project at the downtown library. That includes replacing the existing, three-story, broken escalator system with a central staircase. Appropriations for this project should come once the city passes its capital budget, she says.