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Killam library doors: a pain in the pass

Dalhousie physicist gives advice on how to open heavy doors

2 min read
caption A Dalhousie student pushes through the doors at the Killam Library.
Meagan Campbell

On the second floor of the Killam Memorial Library, the force exerted to open the doors equates to lifting a 25 pound weight.

“It’s almost like you need a stick to pry them open,” says Bernie Kopp, a second year history student. “You have to pull and then walk backward a whole bunch to get leverage.”

The Killam contains notably heavy doors (by comparison, the doors at a main entrance of the Halifax Shopping Centre require the equivalent of lifting an eight pound weight). The Signal asked Simon de Vet, a physics instructor at Dalhousie, for tips on how to get through.

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Abdul Majid, a fourth-year engineering student, says he doesn’t know why any library would need this type of door.

“I’ve seen it in a heavy-duty factory,” Majid says, “but that’s usually only when stuff on the other side of the door is dangerous to society.”

When the Killam was built in 1966, it contained an outdoor courtyard, and the same doors remain in place today.

“The doors are heavy and sturdy because they used to be exterior doors, and needed to withstand the elements,” writes Mary Jane Webber, manager of communications for Dalhousie facilities management, in an email.

Webber says the university has not received any complaints about the doors.

But Kopp has noticed the weight of the doors since his first visit to Dalhousie — he says his tour guide struggled to open them.

“You have to bend down and get into the motion,” Kopp says. “I think there’s like a mechanism in there that tries to keep it closed.”

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