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2012-07-05

Co.Exist

What To Do With Old Walmarts? Turn Them Into Libraries

Check out these pictures from McAllen, Texas, where--instead of letting it sit idle--they’ve used the massive space of an abandoned superstore as a beautiful home for books.

Regardless of whether or not you appreciate what Walmart stores have done to America’s consumption habits, it’s hard to dispute that the chain takes up a whole lot of space. For the uninitiated, it’s easy to get turned around in one of the big box stores. But imagine if all that space could be used for something else--if those aisles could be stripped of their plastic products from China and replaced with books. That’s what’s happening at an abandoned Walmart in McAllen, Texas, where a library is taking over the structure and turning it into book heaven.

PSFK points us to the library, which recently won the 2012 Library Interior Design Award. Designed by Meyer Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd. (the interior) and Boultinghouse Simpson Architects (the exterior), the library is located inside a 124,500 square foot former Walmart store--making it the largest single-story library in the U.S.

The space includes a computer lab, study rooms, study areas for children, teens, and adults, a cafe, an auditorium, a genealogy research area, and more. Library goers apparently love the new design--registration has increased 23% since the revamp earlier this year.

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21 Comments

  • Stef evans

    they could also be converted into affordable housing or homeless shelters too.

  • Makulais459

    paper books are obsolete, agree with the digital site.  to the person about affordability of technology, how freakin much do you think that revamping that site cost?  compare that to a wireless network on the site, of course the needy still have to have free transportation right?
     

  • c'est moi

    Would have liked to share this on FB for a couple of my librarian friends, and for all my book loving friends. Unfortunately, the FB share button doesn't seem to work.....

  • kannwoolley

    This library looks great but most communities already have them - and Walmarts are huge amount of floor area. How about using Walmarts to create better designed self-storage facilities - vs. building new ugly ones!

  • Wize Adz

    My community has some very nice libraries, but they could do a lot more with more space.  Here are a few ideas of things that are aligned with the library's public access education and information preservation mission:
    a) More electronic information storage.  I'm talking datacenter-floor with spinning discs holding copies of Wikipedia and any digital information worth preserving from the local area.
    b) A Fab Lab.  Fab Labs have a public access and education mission.  They're about teaching and learning and doing, which are things that compliment a library nicely.  Just need some noise-insulation between the Fab Lab and the library, so that you can read about how to machine a part, then go build it, and then you can start or join a high-tech a manufacturing business.  All in evenings and weekends.

  • Guest

    So you're proposing that we not build more libraries but build more self storage units instead?

  • John McGrath

    Among many services libraries offer (yes, most are packed) is tutoring in English as a second language 

  • andy_mcf

    Great idea.  Too bad Walmart didn't think of this idea themselves as they vacate (or upgrade) stores.  Despite some drawbacks, Walmart is an integral part of many communities. Their initiatives into 'green' arenas are a renaissance in customer service.  More here:  http://bit.ly/i5v6MD

  • John McGrath

    Another good thing would be for part of the building to be an exercise "playground" for adults and a free or cheap day care center. Make it a true People's Place.

  • Wize Adz

    I was wondering the other day why nobody put a jogging track in the mall (on a separate balcony), in order to attract adults to the mall during poor weather.  A community exercise facility that's co-located with library would be even better.

    My mom has to go to the senior's center.  She's a senior, of course, but she'd rather have the company of people of all ages.  The absence of young whippersnappers keep her interested.  She's much rather go to a jogging track that's associated with a library.

    There is so much that can be done to serve the community, if we make it a priority.

  • Sam Hall

    Physical libraries are ancient history and do not make sense. Tax payer money is better spent on digital ebook website libraries.

  • c'est moi

    Great idea. Then only those who can afford technology can read. Sigh. Really really hate that frigging attitude.....

  • missphenom

    Libraries help people retrain for jobs, nurture literacy and this week in DC serve as cooling stations during the week-long power outage!  Physical libraries are still packed and have the newspaper, magazine and journal subscriptions that would cost too much for the average citizen to purchase by himself.  Even though I am Generation Y and have always had a computer in my classroom, I use these resources while studying and writing my economics thesis!

  • Jeff

     Modern libraries serve the community in so many ways that you wouldn't initially conceive. For example, try searching or applying for a job if you don't own a computer. Or investigating government programs and charitable resources. Or just looking up a bus schedule.  Community libraries provide access to the internet for those who can't afford a PC and a monthly cable internet package.

  • MrStylz

    I suggest stopping by your local library sometime before you come to that conclusion. Ours is packed with high school, college, and kids. Lots of family activities for the young ones. Huge book selection and the ability to order from any other local library. They have music, movies, papers, magazines... Not to mention internet for those that don't have access at home. Trust me, out is going no where. Only people who don't frequent libraries say this.

  • Joseph Newkirk

    GREAT!!! American creativity at the forefront of innovation and education. COOL!

  • christine

    Well at least something can be found to do good with Wallmart.  Personally I'd like to see them wiped off the face of the earth. 

  • Houston too

    I don't necessarily agree with "christine" or "Houston", but I would like to point out that this was not Walmart "doing something good for society".  Rather, it was more likely Walmart or their landlord selling an outdated (read: too small) building to the City of McAllen.