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Abandoned Walmart Becomes Award-Winning Public Library in McAllen

by: Emily Cadik

Sat Jul 07, 2012 at 03:30 PM CDT

What's the best part about a Walmart coming to town?  For some, it's when it shuts down and leaves behind an award-winning public library.

Gawker reports:

After Walmart closed up shop in McAllen, they left 124,500 square feet of retail space behind for use by the city.

Rather than bring in another big box corporation to pick up where Walmart left off, the southern Texas city decided to turn the building into its new public library. And not just any public library neither: Upon its completion, the McAllen Public Library became the largest single-story library in the United States.

The project was massively successful: Registration by first-time patrons went up by 23% in the library's first month of operation, and its "functional, flexible and affordable" interior - constructed by Minneapolis-based Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. - was recently named winner of the International Interior Design Association's 2012 Library Interior Design Competition.

The Walmart location was apparently too small for the retailer, as they abandoned the original location in favor of a larger one.  But it was just right for an impressive new library.  And after opening the new location, registrations at the McAllen library grew by 23 percent.


Nice to see there's some good book-related news coming out of the Valley, especially in light of news like Laredo losing its only bookstore, which will make it the largest U.S. city without a book retailer.  And more generally, it's nice to see an investment in public libraries to offset the trend of book retailers closing doors nationwide.  


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