To get to the alternate stairwell on the first floor just walk past the elevator lobby and the PJ’s coffee stand, through the glass double doors, and into the 1st floor Quiet Area. Then continue straight ahead for about 75 feet along the aisle in the book stacks with yellow arrow signs [to be placed in the area by workers on Monday]. The entrance to the stairwell is at the end of the aisle.
The stairs are in this same location on each of the upper floors. A second emergency stairwell on the Freret Street side of the building will at least for now remain designated for use in emergencies only.
The center stairwell is scheduled to be closed off next week so that that a concrete supporting wall (shear wall) spanning the top three present floors of the library can be built there. The interior shear wall supports that have been under construction in various locations throughout the library over the past few months will effectively serve as anchors for the structural frame of the library's two additional floors.
The central stairwell is projected to be unavailable until Aug. 15. Construction of a sheer wall support within this stairwell will require removal of large sheets of marble to be reinstalled later, and this alone could not be accomplished safely without closing the stairwell off. The contractor and project managers say the lengthy time period that the stairwell will be blocked off is required to accommodate the careful removal of the marble, the demolition of the cinder block wall behind the marble, and construction of the poured concrete shear wall slab from the 2nd floor upward. Then the marble must be successfully rehung and the stairwell returned to form with new taller railings installed to meet modern building codes and to match those that will be in the new portion of the stairwell on floors 5-6. Eventually, workers will also need to build a pressurized glass enclosure with doors at the entrance to the stairwell on the 1st floor in order to comply with fire safety codes. By the time those tasks are completed in June, the contractor should be ready to open the roof over the stairwell to an unfinished level 5, which accounts for the additional time that the stairwell is expected to be blocked off.
For assistance please see the staff at the main desk in the 1st floor Learning Commons.