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Reference Question of the Week – 9/29/13

   October 5th, 2013

elevator repairI wasn't involved in this and it's not really a reference question, but it still made me laugh - more than once.

On Tuesday this week, all department heads got this email from the library's office manager:

On Thursday, Oct. 3rd we have a physics teacher coming with approx. 7 students to ride our elevator a few times. The teacher said they all would be very considerate to our patron needs.

I must have missed the word "physics" the first time I read it, because it sounded ridiculous - coming in to ride the elevator? But then "physics" kicked in, and then it made sense that they'd be using the elevator to experiment with gravity.

So Thursday comes, and apparently I'm off somewhere else and miss this whole scene. The school group comes in, and it turns out to be a teacher and seven homeschool students, which explains why they're using the library's elevator rather than the one at the school. They brought some kind of scale, and all eight of them pile into the elevator. The door closes, they hit the button to go, and... the elevator doesn't budge and the alarm goes off.

I think the door opened, but it was just such a surprising situation that no one exited the elevator - I guess everyone just stood there, kind of in shock.

Eventually they got off the elevator, the alarm stopped, and to be on the safe side, staff marked it out-of-order* and called the repairman.

I was here the next day when the repairman checked it out, and I don't think he found anything wrong with it. So the theory is that the class must have exceeded the weight limit, and the elevator shut itself down. I'm surprised that seven kids and one adult could exceed the limit, because I know I've been in there with three or four other adults and a couple carts of books.

Anyway, I thought this was worth sharing because it's one of those things I couldn't even make up - but also another example of how people use the library. Science!


*Being the middle of the day, there were already patrons who used the elevator to get to the lower level, that would need it to get back up to leave. In this situation, staff escorts these patrons out through the staff area and the back door, where we have a ramp for wheeling in carts. A much longer walk to the parking lot from there, but unfortunately it can't be helped - and certainly better for some people than having to take the stairs.

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3 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 9/29/13”

  1. Kat Says:

    I might be the only one that sometimes wonders what would happen if the weight limit was exceeded on an elevator. I always just assumed we’d fall to our deaths, or at the very least, be trapped for awhile (cue whatever horror movie comes to mind). Thank goodness the elevators will just not even try!

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Kat: I’ve wondered about that too – I figured there was some kind of buffer between the maximum weight posted and the actual will-break-the-cable-and-you’ll-die weight. Our elevator is rated at 2500 pounds, which means: allowing for a 200 pound adult, the seven kids would need an average weight of 329 pounds in order to reach that limit (this isn’t accounting for the weight of the experiment equipment, however). Perhaps something else was going on – the elevator has been working fine since.

  3. Chris Says:

    Maybe the students were jumping in the elevator. This can trigger a ‘speed sensor’ that prevents the elevator from going down or up to fast, which set up the alarm…