The Town that Turned Its Walmart into a Library

After the superstore changed locations, this Texas town turned the space into a 124,500 square foot library.

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Image by © Arthur Baensch/Corbis

Have you ever walked into a Super Wal-Mart, looked around at the warehouse full of everything you could ever need and thought, “Wow, I’d really love to plop down here and study for a few hours”?

No? Okay, neither have we. But it seems the good people of McAllen, Texas did.

When McAllen’s local Wal-Mart closed down they decided to turn the 124,500 square foot building — that’s the size of about two and half football fields — into the biggest single-story library in the nation.

The innovative design won the International Interior Design Association’s 2012 Library Interior Design Competition and is pretty much the coolest library you’ve ever seen. The trendy space has raised new user registration by 23% and provided a Teen Center for the kids of McAllen to hang out in.

(MORE: 10 Ways Walmart Changed the World)

The cool factor for teens is perhaps the most important part of the grand library. McAllen is right on the Mexico border and many residents worry about their youth 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 lives in 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.”