It’s 5:30 p.m. on a Thursday, and the Lark Community Center and Branch Library parking lot in McAllen is jam-packed.
A school bus unloads droves of students who swarm into the glowing building for an evening program. A Valley Transit bus pulls in. Parents in SUVs scoop up their offspring and line up to exit onto the street.
Located just a block away from Garza Elementary School, the Lark branch library finds a similar scene playing out each school day. Children walk over after school and spend the afternoon reading, playing computer games and doing homework until their parents finish work.
The situation is not unique to Lark.
In South McAllen, students from Brown Middle School and South Texas Christian Academy settle in after the last bell rings. Same thing in Edinburg, Weslaco, McAllen and other libraries across the Rio Grande Valley.
Same thing all around the country — at least according to the many blogs and Web sites filled with librarians’ queries and advice on how to handle unattended children.