They’ve wanted a library for over 20 years, and they’re asking for your help to raise funds

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Land donated by Central Fire District for a new public library in Menan | Courtesy photo

MENAN – If you attended Menan’s 4th of July celebration, you may have noticed a vacant lot east of the festivities with a sign indicating it was the future site of the Menan Library.

JoAnn Jones, a trustee with the library’s board of directors, tells EastIdahoNews.com the city of Menan and the outlying communities of Annis and Grant have wanted a library for more than 20 years.

Fundraising efforts for the library have been an ongoing effort for the last several years.

“We’ve done quite a few fundraisers,” Jones says. “Once the word got out that we were really serious about this, we’ve had some generous donations from the community, but we still have quite a ways to go.”

The one-acre parcel of land for the library was donated to the city two years ago by Central Fire District. A resident recently donated $50,000 towards the project.

Jones says taking out a loan to fund the library’s construction is not an option because the city does not have enough income to pay it back.

“The way the (taxing district) is organized, where we’re a nonprofit and don’t have any income, we don’t have any way to pay for it,” says Jones.

The other challenge is the way the library district is structured.

“The city libraries in Rigby, Lewisville and Roberts are all connected with the city, so their funding is different. We have a greater area that is really not covered by (a library fund),” Jones says.

The current library is a 1,500-square-foot trailer building behind Midway Elementary. There is shelving and a few computers inside, but Jones says there is not enough space for the community to fully benefit from. Jones feels now is the ideal time to ramp up fundraising efforts because Midway Elementary is undergoing some renovations.

“People really want to see this happen and the support has been amazing,” Laurie Willmore, the library director, told the Jefferson Star after a fundraiser in November.

More than $100,000 has been raised so far, but they still need another $900,000 to move forward with the construction of a 7,500-square-foot library. They’re also working on applying for a grant to help pay for the project.

There are not currently any floor plans available for the library, but a group of Brigham Young University-Idaho students came up with a concept design.

“A library can be the heart of a community, and anymore, a library is more than just books. It’s a gathering place, a place where we come to learn and access technology,” says Jones. “We want to have a community room, which will be blocked off when the library is closed. It would be open for community events, classes and family gatherings.”

The library would also include an expanded offering of books for young adults and kids. A space for kids to play chess or other games, and a display of newspapers and magazines from around the country would be available as well.

“A library needs to be a partnership with parents, educators and schools so we can bring up a community of well-read and established lovers of literature. Too often in education we worry about kids not being illiterate, which is a good thing, but we also need to increase a love of books, where kids love to learn, love to explore and research,” Jones says.

When construction on the library will begin is still up in the air. Jones and others on the library board are finalizing a date for another fundraiser in September. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in making a donation, drop it by the Jefferson County District Library at 623A North 3500 East in Menan. You can also send a donation directly to Jones at PO Box 145 Menan, ID 83434.

JoAnn Jones
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