Thursday, December 11, 2014

Building Closure Dec. 17 - Jan. 4: FAQs

As noted in previous posts, the Howard-Tilton building will be closed from Dec. 17 through Jan. 4 during a portion of the upcoming intersession between semesters and due to the scale of the ceiling removal scheduled on its 1st floor.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about the building closure.
  • Why does the whole building need to be closed? The ceilings to be removed were made with a material containing a low level of asbestos and the operation will require a special containment enclosure to be set up around the area affected. This 1st floor area is enormous and encompasses all of the elevator lobby and its adjacent restrooms. It includes the area over the PJs Coffee Shop and the stairwell and foyer by the former main entrance. It covers most of the area directly above and in front of the check-out and help desk, as well as much of the Learning Commons. Basically, the size of the containment area will prohibit the functioning of too many essential services and will block too many main pathways, including emergency egress, to and from other parts of the building. 
  • Why now and these dates? The short answer is that the intersession between semesters provided the project managers a window of opportunity since the library is normally closed anyway for about 7 days between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 (with short hours of 10:45 am-4:45 pm during the rest) and longer holiday closures at other libraries are not unheard of.  For example, the Monroe Library nearby at Loyola University of New Orleans will be closed this year from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3.  But the key issue here is that the ceiling removal is not part of the construction contractor’s scope of work for the 5th and 6th floor construction. It is necessitated by an unanticipated existing condition (asbestos) that would otherwise keep the contractor from completing its work within its contractual time frame. So Tulane’s department of Capital Projects & Real Estate (CPREG) hired the abatement firm Quality Environmental Contractors to come in separately to remove the ceilings now to avoid a range of potential problems. All parties worked to meet the library’s requirement that it be able to reopen in advance of the spring semester, which starts on Jan. 12, to allow faculty to collect resources and place materials on reserve beforehand. 
  • What will the 1st floor look like when the building reopens on Jan. 5? It may look a lot like the elevator lobby on the 4th floor presently looks without its ceiling—in other words, pretty rough. The plan to rebuild the ceiling involves two phases that, according to CPREG, will be scheduled at night and mostly after normal library hours once the library reopens. The first phase involves a subcontractor installing the fire suppression (sprinkler) system that has being going in on the upper floors. The 2nd phase will be handled by other crews and will involve the hanging of the new ceiling itself plus its associated lighting and other fixtures. This may take about a month. 
  • Can books be dropped off for return while the library is closed? Yes, books can still be dropped off in the return book bins located next to at the library’s temporary entrance off Freret Street. 
  • Will the library catalog and the library’s online resources normally accessible from the library web site be maintained during the building closure? Yes.  
  • Will the library's Special Collections in Jones Hall or other Tulane libraries be affected?  No, these libraries will follow their normal intersession schedules.

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