Staff at the Boston Public Library’s main branch are frustrated about the lack of air conditioning in the building as warmer weather days have become more frequent.

The library closed twice last week because of excessive heat inside the building. But even when it’s open, library employee and union president Elissa Cadillic said the heat has been hard for staff to manage.

“I’ve had people who have gotten ill from it,” said Cadillic. “We’ve had people who we’ve talked about skipping lunch because they have nausea. People with chronic illness are having flareups. Even though it is no fault of the staff, the library is forcing people to use their own time off during this time if they can’t work at another location.”

The branch’s air conditioning was turned off several weeks ago to accommodate critical repairs to the loading dock. Because construction is happening above the BPL’s mechanical room, there was concern that falling debris could cause problems.

Lisa Pollack, chief of communications at the library, said the contractor is working in accelerated shifts to finish the work quickly. She expects the air conditioning to back online by early next week.

But Cadillic isn’t optimistic. She said repairs were initially postponed from winter until spring, and then they didn’t begin until the end of April. Work was scheduled to be completed last week, but was delayed.

“The date just keeps getting pushed,” said Cadillic. “What I’ve heard from my staff that work around those areas is that construction is more behind than folks are letting on.”

Consultants are monitoring the temperature inside the building on a regular basis. Pollack said once the temperature inside reaches 86 degrees, the library closes.

But Cadillic said management only began monitoring the temperature once the union asked for temperature reports. And she said management is using the temperature reading to decide when to close the library, but is not taking into account humidity.

To keep the library cool, Pollack said floors fans have been set up. Windows in the older McKim building are kept open to simulate airflow.

Throughout the last couple of months, Cadillic said communication from senior leadership has been terrible, with no plan to deal with the unhealthy heat expected this time of year.

“We’ve we showed up through COVID-19. We’ve been here through extreme temperatures. We’ve been here through bomb threats. We’ve been through bombs,” said Cadillic. “We’ve risked our our health and our safety every day to come to work and there’s no plan, there’s no solutions from senior leadership.”

Temperatures are expected to rise into the 80s again next week.