“Closed – No A/C” is the message that has been greeting library goers at the door of the Roxborough Library for the past two weeks.
Located on the bustling Ridge Avenue corridor, this branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia normally serves the communities of Roxborough, Manayunk, and Wissahickon.
On May 25, the library staff started feeling the heat and realized that two HVAC air compressors were broken, leaving the library at a beyond balmy, 82 degrees. This temperature is above the city’s “indoor thermal comfort index,” an ordinance stating that if the inside of a building is more than 80 degrees, city employees must be relocated to work somewhere else until the problem is fixed and the temperature is brought down.
It also doesn’t help that the windows of the Roxborough Library are sealed shut. Sandra Horrocks, Vice President of External Affairs for the Free Library, explained that the windows are sealed, “in order to balance the heating and air conditioning as well as prevent break-ins, since there are no bars on them.”
Such modern day heating and air conditioning tribulations are more frequent than some realize at the many locations of the Free Library, due to the age of the buildings.
“There are 54 buildings in the Free Library system and they all need attention,” Horrocks explains, “Furthermore, 17 of the 54 are Carnegie branches, meaning they were made possible by donations from Andrew Carnegie and are more than 100 years old.”
The Roxborough Branch’s current building opened in 1969. Because of budget constraints, the library couldn’t afford to buy a new air conditioning system, so the old HVAC system is staying, and they are just replacing the two broken air compressors. The job is estimated to cost about $30,000.
Roxborough Library employees are currently in a transient state. They receive a call each morning telling them which library to report to that day.
The library plans to re-open next Wednesday, June 15, after being closed for exactly three weeks. In the meantime, Roxborough Library patrons can visit the Andorra Library located at the corner of Henry Avenue and Cathedral Road.