Remodeled Central Library Set to Reopen Downtown

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - The Central Branch of the St. Louis Public library reopens this weekend, with the latest technology accenting a 100-year-old mission for public education.

"Central Library is kind of a book carved in stone in many ways," executive director Waller McGuire described the quotes etched in the Renaissance architecture, the brand-new fountain and indoor ceilings.

"The first thing they do is look up," Gerald Brooks, of the library`s marketing department, looked up at huge ovals carved into the ceiling over the new Center for Readers.

These quotes were waiting to greet readers to the library after two years and $70-million of renovations.  Brooks said before the facelift, the Great Hall was his favorite room.  After the fixes were finally done, he loved that room even more.

"Now when I walk in the Great Hall -- with all the cleaning and everything that's been done -- I look up at the ceiling.  I am seeing things I never saw before."

A huge desk, original to the century-old library, was moved to one side of the hall.  Strangely, the staff was happy to discover the marble floor underneath had been worn down by two inches.

"To a librarian, that means something because that's a hundred years of people coming to the library and getting help," McGuire explained.

The desk was on the Locust Street side of the library.  That is where seven floors of books called 'The Stacks' stood, off limits to visitors.
"It was also a seismic and a fire nightmare that had to be completely renovated," McGuire said.  "But, we recycled those glass floors -- those enormous blocks of glass -- and made them into that wall behind the welcome desk, and put that sign behind it that said `Hello` and `Welcome to the Library`."

Even the Kids Room got a major upgrade, with little ones in mind.

"It has every amenity for you to do from crafts to reading to story time," Brooks laughed.  "It even has its own restroom in it."

McGuire looked over the new computer center called 'The Net', the teen multi-media lab, cafe and the 250-seat auditorium.

"The library is the heart of a community.  It's a deeply American idea of allowing people, who want to improve their own lives, the possibility of doing so."

The St. Louis Public Library Foundation raised $20-million dollars for the facelift.  The other $50-million came from city and state bonds.

Grand Reopening
Sunday, December 9, 2012
1 to 5 p.m.  

St. Louis Public Library
Central Branch
1301 Olive Street
St. Louis, MO  63103

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