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“Magnificent” Central Library Inches Closer To Re-Opening

Michael Calhoun (Twitter.com/michaelcalhoun, mrcalhoun@cbs.com)
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Area leaders promoted the kick-off of "Build St. Louis Week" by showing off progress at the St. Louis Public Library's Central Library's $70 million restoration and renewal. The library will re-open on December 9th. (KMOX/Michael Calhoun/filtered through Instagram)

Area leaders promoted the kick-off of “Build St. Louis Week” by showing off progress at the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library’s $70 million restoration and renewal. The library will re-open on December 9th. (KMOX/Michael Calhoun/filtered through Instagram)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – There’s just one word to describe the restoration of downtown’s Central Library: magnificent.

“I had a staff member walk into the great hall who hadn’t been in the building for two-and-a-half years and burst into tears because of what she thought of the restoration and just the emotional experience of walking into this great building, restored,” executive director Waller McGuire told KMOX this week.

Some three million items, from books to computers, are being moved back, ahead of the December 9th re-opening.

It has been closed for about two years.

There are beautiful new spaces that patrons have never seen before, Waller said, that will be newly part of the library experience when it re-opens. For instance, the north end of the building where the stacks once were is now an area with uncovered, white subway tiles and lots of glass.

The total amount of public space was expanded without having to alter walls or facades.

While gazing through a bronze gate, Waller pointed out to KMOX’s Michael Calhoun the work still being done in the fine arts area.

“If you look up, you can see the original, historic ceiling; that hasn’t been seen for almost fifty years,” he described. “The library tore out much of that ceiling and installed fluorescent lights decades ago.”

St. Louis companies not only restored the ceiling, but also re-created the same chandeliers that hung from it a century ago.

img 63181 Magnificent Central Library Inches Closer To Re Opening

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The building and its collections, Waller said, are both world-class.

“They are a gift to us from St. Louis, a hundred years ago. The library took good care of this building over the last century. We valued it. But it definitely needed work.”

He notes that not only is the project progressing on-time, but it is also slated to come in under budget.

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