Town of McAllen, Texas, converts abandoned Wal-Mart into biggest single-story library in the country

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News Writer
Good News

When the Wal-Mart in the border town McAllen, Texas, closed down, the town decided to convert the massive empty space into a 124,500-square-foot library, the largest single-story library in the nation.

After renovation, the McAllen Public Library wasn't just huge — it's about the size of two-and-a-half football fields — it was also award-worthy. The innovative design won the International Interior Design Association's 2012 Library Interior Design Competition.

PSFK shares pictures of the trendy space here.

New user registration has already increased by 23 per cent in the first month since the library's opening.

The hip new space includes a Teen Center and has become a hangout spot for youth in the area. In a city with cartel violence across the river — McAllen is on the Mexican border — the dedicated space for youth has been well-received by town residents concerned about their children getting involved in drug violence.

"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," Amanda Ramirez, a McAllen native who now teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, told the Los Angeles Times.

"And a giant library — a cool-looking open space devoted to entertaining the imagination? Well, I think that's the best counter-move against violence imaginable," Ramirez wrote, "And you don't even have to wait for a computer now."

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