YORK's new look central library is almost ready to re-open, and The Press has been behind the scenes to see results of the dramatic refurbishment work.

York Explore Library Learning Centre on Museum Street will reopen on Monday, January 5, after a seven month £1.5 million refurbishment project.

Workers are now putting the finishing touches to the new Archives and Local History service on the first floor, and to the "gold box" for the city’s internationally-recognised collections.

Explore chief executive Fiona Williams told people to prepare to be amazed by the new look library and archive centre.

She added: "We will soon be welcoming the City Archive to its new, purpose-built home. Upstairs at York Explore has been transformed into a world-class archive and local history centre."

The new facility will be home for the records of more than 800 years of York’s history - including the city’s reaction to the death of Richard III to its defence in the Second World War.

The refurbishment is the first half of the York: Gateway to History project, and will be followed by a scheme to create a new education and outreach programme based on the archive collections.

The works on Museum Street have also seen a new heating system installed; the parquet flooring relayed; and the ground floor reference service and care refurbished.

Building work will finish in November, when the interior fit out will start. From December most of the additional opening hours at other libraries will stop so staff can prepare York Explore for reopening, but Sycamore House Reading Café in Clarence Street will remain open and Acomb Explore will continue to open on Sundays.

The temporary Archives and Local History service at Acomb Explore will also be closed from December as the records are returned to York Explore.