GALLERY: John and Judy Gay Library in McKinney debuts 15,000-square-foot expansion

The toddler room at the library includes board books and a Lite Brite wall. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
The toddler room at the library includes board books and a Lite Brite wall. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)

The toddler room at the library includes board books and a Lite Brite wall. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Due to the usually high circulation at the library, an automated material handler was installed to help sort books faster. Books or other library items are deposited onto a conveyor belt, which sorts them individually and scans the item in. From there, items move along the conveyor belt and are dropped in the correct container for each section, which staff will distribute. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The quiet area in the library is being used to temporarily hold furniture and end caps for shelves as finishing touches continue to be made. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
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A new programming room was built in the newly added section of the library. A computer has access to editing software, and a marker board provides space for collaboration. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The newly expanded library incorporates more light and color and also provides new technology. The white ring above the chairs provides sound to only the area directly beneath it. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The teen space at the library was built in the new expanded section that was recently completed. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
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Three different study rooms will be available for use once rules regarding social gatherings have relaxed. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The Bailey is a multipurpose room at the library that features flexible seating arrangements, including retractable lecture hall seating. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The Teen Room at the John and Judy Gay Library has space for a number of people and provides lots of color and light. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The library expansion brings in an additional 15,000 square feet of space with a more modern look. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The John and Judy Gay Public Library has a different look to it following a recent expansion. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The John and Judy Gay Public Library has a different look to it following a recent expansion. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
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A new bronze statue was installed just outside the library, created by Gary Lee Price. It is called "Best Friends." (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
The John and Judy Gay Public Library has added an additional 15,217 square feet of space to an expansion that is finally complete.

The library reopened to the public June 22 to unveil its new wing and renovated interior. The library looks completely different from how it did before renovations and expansion work began in 2019, officials said.

Upon entering, the library has a modern new look with fresh paint and carpet, new study rooms, shorter shelves and a variety of seating arrangements, from tables to booths. It also has an entirely new area to the right of its front entrance big enough to be its own building, complete with a multipurpose room and a toddler area.

On a given day before its expansion, every table at the library was taken, and some students from the school nearby would find whatever space they could on the floor to get their work done, Branch Manager Lisa Bailey said. She said it had been like that at the library since it first opened in late 2009.

“We outgrew the library as soon as it was built,” Bailey said. “We are in an area of high population and so many families that as soon as we were up, people were commenting, ‘Gee, this is kind of small, isn't it?’ So our first goal was to have a bigger building so that we could fit more people in here.”


In 2015, McKinney residents voted to approve a bond proposition of $9.5 million for the library. Construction began last year for the library’s expansion and the interior renovation.

The expansion provides more space to serve the growing McKinney population, Bailey said, and also adds more programming spaces. The newly expanded library features stage areas that fold into the walls, an outdoor program area and a multipurpose room called The Bailey that has retractable lecture hall seating. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the library is unable to take advantage of these spaces until gatherings of more than 10 people are allowed.

During the first months of the pandemic, the library was able to offer curbside checkout. If people put items on hold, library staff could retrieve those items and bring them out to patrons’ vehicles.

“We also really increased and put a lot of money from our Collection Development Account toward e-books,” Bailey said. “So if people could not come to the library, they could get books, audiobooks or books online at no cost through some of our apps.”

While the library has reopened, there are a few finishing touches being made. A new bronze statue of two children about to run down a hill was recently installed by the Friends of McKinney Libraries and John and Judy Gay, the library’s namesakes. In addition, decorated endcaps will be placed at the end of the bookshelves, but the shipment has been delayed due to the ongoing acrylic shortage as the demand for plastic barriers has increased, Bailey said.

Even in the digital age, libraries are a valuable resource, Bailey said. Before the pandemic hit the North Texas area, the John and Judy Gay Library would circulate more than a million books a year, she said.

“People still use the library; they check out books; they check out DVDs—I think we were the second-busiest election site over the past couple of years when we would hold voting here at the library. We were just a very busy place,” Bailey said. “Right now, it's kind of a shock because we want more people here. But we know we can't have it crowded.”

In spite of this, most of the tables in the new, spaced out area at the front of the library had people using them on a mid-July afternoon. The booths and lounge chairs were also being utilized, while teens and children took advantage of the new spaces that had been created for them—all signs that the library’s expansion will be well-used.

“When people come in the library who haven’t been in since we remodeled, usually, their first remarks are that it's so open-looking and so nicely spread out,” Bailey said. “When you look out the windows on all the sides, you see green. And that's so nice. ... It's just a really beautiful place with lots of light and lots of color.”

John and Judy Gay Public Library

6861 W. Eldorado Parkway, McKinney

972-547-7323

www.mckinneytexas.org/116/library
By Miranda Jaimes
Miranda has been in the North Texas area since she graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 2014. She reported and did design for a daily newspaper in Grayson County before she transitioned to a managing editor role for three weekly newspapers in Collin County. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 covering Tarrant County news, and is now back in Collin County as the editor of the Frisco and McKinney editions.


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