I first heard about the plans for McAllen Public Library in Texas to convert an enormous abandoned Wal-Mart into their new main library back in 2008. I was highly skeptical at the time, mainly because I pictured the bland cheerlessness of your average Wal-Mart, simply stocked with yard after yard of books, instead of cheap, imported clothes. And yet, I know one of the main things that patrons ask for is space. Space, and lots of it! Space for meeting rooms, conference rooms, space for private study rooms and/or study carrells, space for children's areas, space for teens, public reading rooms, dedicated space for Friends' groups and more. People really want to use their libraries as a hang-out. If Wal-Mart could deliver in any area, it would certainly be square footage. I'm amazed and pleased at what a little decoration can do - fresh paint, new fixtures, a beautiful water feature, many green upgrades -- you'd never guess that this beautiful library used to be a mega-store! Lovely!
More info, including plenty of photo sets on the McAllen Public Library website.