By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
After years of inoperative escalators, the Central Birmingham Public Library downtown will begin construction of a new staircase on Monday, Sept. 16 with a completion date scheduled for February 2020.
Mayor Randall Woodfin made the announcement Tuesday along with BPL Executive Director Floyd Council and Board President James Sullivan.
“For visitors and patrons of the Birmingham Public Library, I think we can all agree that today has been a long time coming,” said Woodfin. “And I along with city employees have heard your concerns and central staff and our patron’s frustrations . . . I’m happy to say that after almost half a decade, the wait is almost over.”
The stairs will ascend from the first floor up to the fourth, like the escalators.
The escalator has been broken down for so long the repair parts are no longer available and “the cost of replacing the escalator with new models exceeded the cost of the installation of the stairs,” Woodfin said.
Sullivan said he was glad to finally see this happen.
“I want to thank the mayor and his leadership team for keeping its promise on replacing the escalators,” Sullivan said, “. . . I remember when I was the chair of the long range planning committee and were talking about the escalators then, but now four to five years later we’re here today.”
Council said he’s looking forward to the renovations. “We’re super excited about these library projects, libraries are now more relevant than ever . . . as we put these projects together. 2020 is going to be a great year.”
With construction underway, the Central Library’s east building will be closed until the project is completed. However, the BPL Friends Bookstore will remain open on the first floor of the East Building throughout construction.
In the meantime, patrons will have to enter the building from the front of Linn-Henley Research Library, which is connected to Library’s Central Branch, where most of the departments have been temporarily relocated.
He said of the public computers are set up on the third floor of Linn-Henley and everything done can be done there while the stairs are being installed in the east building. said Council. “The main floor level will still be opened so that people have access to the Friends Bookstore and we will have some limited access to the building from the parking lot,” he said.