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Work continues on massive moving project at Central Library

(photo by Rachel Lippmann)
Stacks of books from the Central library downtown wait to be loaded onto moving vans

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – Movers in charge of transporting the collection of the St. Louis Public Library's Central branch are about two weeks into the six-week process of clearing all the materials from the downtown library's shelves.

Central closed to the public in early June for a two-year, $79 million makeover that will restore the 98-year-old building's facade, some public spaces, and overhaul the electrical, mechanical and heating and air conditioning systems. The books are being stored at the old Macy's warehouse along Interstate 64.
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It will take teams of 30 to 40 workers another four weeks to completely clear the shelves, said Matt Hagan, who is overseeing Central's move for the company Carney McNicholas. Workers are using index cards and maps shaded with colored pencil to keep the 3.5 million books in order - a key part of moving a library.

"You can take anything out of the house, put it on the truck and move it to the next spot," he said. "Here we're dealing with a lot of sequencing, and there's a lot of math involved."

Carney McNicholas must also move fragile volumes from Central's special collections and its maps. Hagan said the company is shrink-wrapping the carts that hold those materials.

"And the other thing with the entire collection is just using a good amount of care and being cautious and really not trying t rough anything up," he said. "This is a big collection and it's a collection with a lot of valuable items, and it's our job to preserve that as much as possible and just reset it in the right order in another place." He said the narrow corridors in the glass-floored stacks also make moving tough.

Some of Central's materials are available to the public at the library's branch in the Old Post Office. And Brenda McDonald, the library's director of central services, said patrons can request materials from the storage site, but are not allowed into the warehouse because of liability issues.


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