Our schools may be unaccredited and our town ranked the "most dangerous" city in the nation, but St. Louis retains one shining jewel in its tarnished crown. For the third year in a row, the St. Louis Public Library has ranked among the top three library systems in a survey of U.S. cities of 250,000 inhabitants and up. Heading the library's resurgence is Waller McGuire, who served as the system's deputy director for ten years before taking over the top spot in 2004. As deputy director McGuire helped organize the restoration or construction of fourteen library branches. Now he's embarking on his most ambitious task to date: a campaign to raise $50 million for the renovation of the department's grande dame
, the Italian Renaissance-style Central Library downtown (1301 Olive Street, St. Louis 63103; 314-241-2288).