Tours of Central Library

After ten years of planning and two-and-a-half years of construction, the $70 million restoration and renewal of the St. Louis Public Library’s historic Central Library reopened to the public on December 9, 2012, on time and under budget. More than 4000 excited visitors explored their Library on the first day alone.

“The blend of old and new is simply masterful”

Since then, Central Library has lived up to its mission of providing St. Louisans with a great 21st century library. And in addition to garnering praise from visitors, Central has earned a host of the world’s most prestigious design awards.

The Library congratulates principal architect George Nikolajevich and his colleagues at Cannon Design; the construction manager, BSI Constructors; and the accomplished team of contractors they assembled. Nearly everyone involved in this enormous project was a St. Louisan: the talent in our community is amazing.

From architects to engineers to hundreds of skilled construction workers, everyone involved in this landmark project deserves recognition for the distinguished awards Central Library has received.

Come experience the grandeur.

Tour Information

Docent led tours are available for individuals or small groups (less than 10 individuals) on Mondays and Saturdays on a walk-in basis. Our Docents are stationed at the wooden desk in the Great Hall and tours begin on the hour.

Summer Tour Hours (May 31-August 31):
Mondays 11:00 am, 12 Noon and 1:00 pm
Saturdays 11:00 am, 12 Noon, and 1:00 pm

Winter Tour Hours (September 1-May 30):
Mondays 11:00 am
Saturdays 11:00 am, 12 Noon, and 1:00 pm

Private tours are also available by appointment with 30 days advance notice.

If you have a group of 10 or more, we ask that you schedule a tour in advance for any Monday through Saturday by calling 314-539-0345 or sending an email to Group tours should be scheduled before the last week of the preceding month.

If you are bringing a school group for a tour, please contact the Children’s Library at 314-539-0380 for 5th grade and under or the Teen Lounge at 314-539-0332 for grades 6-12th.

If you are planning on driving to Central Library please see the parking information page.

Awards Received

2013 AIA/ALA National Library Building Award: American Institute of Architects and American Library Association -– Encouraging excellence in the architectural design and planning of libraries, this award was created to distinguish accomplishments in library architecture. Biennially, representatives from the AIA and ALA celebrate the finest examples of library design by architects licensed in the United States. (“Meticulously renovated historic spaces combine with a sensitive combination of new construction within the existing historic shell to create a marvelous set of experiences for visitors.” "The blend of old and new is simply masterful. Truly grand and fantastic—there is so much to like here." AIA/ALA Library Building Award Jury)

2013 AIA St. Louis Design Award – Merit Award, Architecture - AIA St. Louis Chapter is the voice of the architectural profession, dedicated to improving the quality of the built environment by recognizing design and construction excellence.

America’s Best Buildings of the Year (ABBY) Awards, Citation - Buildings Magazine

Architizer – International Popular Choice A+ Award for Architecture – The A+ Awards is the definitive global architectural award program with 60+ categories, submissions from more than 100 countries, 200 esteemed judges, and public voting of 150,000 from every corner of the world. St. Louis Central Library was the “Favorite” in the Library Category.

Best Renovation/Restoration Project: St. Louis Central Library - Engineering News Record (ENR)

Illumination Award of Merit, Interior Lighting - Illuminating Engineering Society

Interior Architecture, Merit Award - AIA Central States Region

Keystone Award – Associated General Contractors (AGC) of St. Louis “Craftsmanship, excellence, attention to detail and professionalism were among the characteristics judges cited in deciding the AGC’s Keystone Awards for 2013.”

Most Enhanced Award - Landmarks Association of St. Louis. “This building is both an architectural and civic treasure and it stands as a shining example of how an institution can accommodate the current and future needs of its mission while respecting and honoring its architectural legacy.” – Landmarks Association

National Preservation Honor Award - National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Preservation Awards are bestowed on distinguished individuals, nonprofit organizations, public agencies and corporations whose skill and determination give new meaning to their communities through preservation of our architectural and cultural heritage. "While each is unique, this year's outstanding Honor Award winners all reflect the importance of protecting what is special and irreplaceable," said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "Whether it's the spectacular restoration of an iconic public library in St. Louis or the transformation of a warehouse into housing for previously homeless residents in Detroit, this year's Honor Award winners demonstrate how saving places bolsters local economies and creates jobs in communities across the country."

Public Sector Award – FX International Interior Design – The prestigious FX Awards invite United Kingdom and international design talent from all over the world to enter the very best of interior projects and products for these coveted awards, known as the highlights of the design industry.

Reconstruction Award - Building Design & Construction. The Reconstruction Awards seek to recognize the best reconstructed, renovated or remodeled projects, based on overall design, engineering and construction project quality.