Out of Abandoned Texas Walmart, a Vast New Library

McAllen Public Library a whopping 125K square feet
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 5, 2012 1:05 PM CDT
A view of the McAllen Public Library, from its website.   (http://www.mcallenlibrary.net/)

(Newser) – When McAllen, Texas, found itself with an abandoned Walmart on its hands, it didn't just bring in another store: It used the building to create a new library. And that library just so happens to be the largest single-story library in the country—and the winner of the International Interior Design Association's 2012 Library Interior Design Competition. PSFK has a number of pictures of the exceptional space, which includes a striking entrance, cheerful orange highlights, hip ceiling elements, and a special lounge for teens.

The McAllen Public Library now clocks in at 124,500 square feet, or about 2½ football fields, and has seen new-user registration increase 23% in the first month after opening. "In a city like McAllen, with cartel violence across the river"—the town is on the Mexico border—"I think it's amazing that the city is devoting resources to a) not only saving a large and conspicuous piece of property from decline and vandalism, but b) diverting those resources into youth and the public trust," a McAllen native tells the Los Angeles Times. "It's easy to fall into drugs, drinking, and violence when you live on the border. It's not really easy to find a place to hang out when you're 14 that's not the mall, the movies, or Mexico." (Read more Texas stories.)

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