ABC11's virtual tour of Durham's renovated main library

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- People walking or driving through downtown Durham past the county's main library branch may think it's ready for business. The futuristic design's eye catching, and even more impressive viewed from above through the bird's eye lens of Drone 11. But the interior's still off limits for most people, except us.

ABC11 cameras, including our drone, took a look inside the library's multimillion dollar makeover for a preview of coming attractions.

Durham County Main Library plans for spring opening

The airy, soaring lobby greets you when you enter from Liberty Street, and you notice there's lots of empty space at this stage of the renovation.

Not for long, says library director Tammy Baggett-Best: "We have nearly a quarter million items to get back on the shelves. That includes books and our AV materials."

The bare shelves and other unfinished interior areas are reasons why she kept our cameras primarily in the lobby. The building has four levels, including sections designed for teens and space on the top floor for meetings or receptions.

But the first thing you see in that lobby is a real eye opener. It's the wide, oak stained steps to the third level they call the Monumental Staircase,

"A place where you can go to the top and you can see all areas of the library," said the director. "Yes, I expect it's a great selfie opportunity for folks coming to the library."

At the top of the staircase, embedded in a more oak wood, is a huge video screen that's not for viewing sports: "But it's a great opportunity as you enter our North Carolina collection, to see some historical moments about Durham," Baggett-Best said.

Outside, what looks like an ATM is actually a book return, she says, "So as customers return their books it will be taken off their library card instantly.."

While she says the doors won't open to the public until April 2020, she and the staff look forward to welcoming friends of the old main library back to the new one.

"Think of it as a 100,000 square foot living room for the community! We are excited about everyone coming in," said Baggett-Best.
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