Big box stores such as Walmart proliferate the United States and each location tends to take up close to 2.5 football fields. In total Walmart accounts for 698 million square feet of land in the U.S and the environmental impact is quite staggering. When these stores close, they often fall into a state of disrepair and most retail companies cannot justify such a large location. One former Walmart store in McAllen, Texas has been transformed into an amazing library.
The McAllen Public Library features 123,000 square feet and is currently the largest single floor library in the US. It originally opened in late 2011 and has been going strong ever since. In the first few months they experienced an increase of over 23% in loans. The next largest is the Johnson County Central Resource Library in Overland Park, Kansas, at 90,547 square feet.
The library has a massive collection of over 355,794 books and a massive collection of digital content, such as audiobooks and e-books.
The library even has an acoustically separated lounge for teens as well as 6 teen computer labs, 16 public meeting spaces, 14 public study rooms, 64 computer labs, 10 children’s computer labs and 2 genealogy computer labs. Other new features include self check-out units, an auditorium, an art gallery, a used bookstore and a cafe.
Can you honestly think of a better use of a former Walmart than a library? This location was straight up abandoned for over seven years because the retailer opened a new location 1.5 miles down the road! I know a lot of bookworms in Texas that have actually made a pilgrimage to this location to check it out. Word to the wise, on Saturdays there is a farmers market right across the street.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.