By Cesareo Contreras
Update: The elevator was repaired Wednesday, Dec. 6 a little before 8:00 a.m., according to Bagge Fowler – a month after the elevator was reported broken. Whitney said due to unforeseen technical complications, the repairs took longer than the Facilities and Capital Planning Department had previously expected.
After being out of service for two weeks, the elevator in the Whittemore Library is scheduled to be repaired on Monday, Nov. 20, according to Maureen Bagge Fowler, environmental health and safety coordinator.
At around 8:00 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 6, the Facilities and Capital Planning Department was informed by the library staff that the elevator had broken down, she said.
Initially, Patricia Whitney, assistant vice president of facilities, assumed the elevator had broken as a result of the power outage repairs the University had completed the previous Friday to restore power campus-wide.
Upon inspection, however, the elevator technician found a failed 40-year-old drive inside the elevator, which was used to help it remain level and determine which floor it was on.
Since the third-party company FSU contracts to manage the elevators, Delta Beckwith, no longer sells that drive, a custom-made part had to be machined – a process that takes longer than just ordering a new part, Whitney explained.
The repairs cost approximately $15,500, she said – $14,400 for the replacement part and an additional $1,100 to have the process expedited.
Whitney said the University might not have paid the additional $1,100 if “it was one of two elevators in a dorm, but because it’s our library, and people take classes there, we felt that we needed to pay the price to expedite it.”
Typically, for items over $10,000, the University has to get three bids from a number of third-party contractors before purchasing anything, Whitney said. Given the “urgent nature” of the problem, she sent out an emergency waiver to the state, requesting permission to allow the University to move forward with Delta Beckwith. This process also took some time, she said.
The University expects to receive the part on Friday, Nov. 17, according to Bagge Fowler.
In the meantime, to accommodate students who need the elevator, LaDonna Bridges, associate dean of academic success and the director of the Center of Academic Success and Achievement (CASA), worked with the Registrar’s Office to move a number of classes in the library to other academic buildings for the remainder of the semester.
English professor Claudia Springer’s film class was moved from the library to Hemenway Hall and communication arts professor Robert Johnson’s class was moved to Dwight Hall.
Springer said, “It’s has been gratifying to work with the Registrar’s office to quickly and efficiently relocate the class. ... Repairing the elevator requires the construction of a part that is no longer manufactured, and that will take time, but because of the University’s rapid response, my class has an appropriate room and we haven’t missed any class time.”
Johnson said although the elevator has failed many times in the past, he can’t recall it being out of service “for so long.”
According to Johnson, there was an email mix-up the day the elevator broke. Although he received an email from CASA informing him that his class had moved, he didn’t see it until “the very last minute,” and thus, was unable to inform the student who needed the elevator that the class had moved.
But when he and the other students arrived at Dwight Hall, that student, who wished to remain anonymous, was already there.
A rumor spread around the campus that the elevator was going to be broken for the rest of the semester – an assumption many made as a result of a few classes in the library being moved to other academic buildings for the remainder of the semester, according to Whitney.
Looking ahead to next year, Whitney said the University has sent out a funding request to the state for a project that would involve updating the library and replacing its elevator.
“We have our fingers crossed,” she said. “It’s one of the top priorities.”