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New public library needs design, grant funding before construction can begin

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MENAN – Building a new public library in Menan has been a slow and ongoing process for the last several years, but members of the library board are hoping to secure all the funding soon so the project can move forward.

The new Menan-Annis-Grant Public Library is slated to be built on a one-acre parcel east of the Menan City Park. A local family donated the land for the project in 2017. Trustees with the Jefferson County Free Library District have hosted numerous fundraising efforts over the years. To date, they’ve acquired $250,000. A total of $1 million is needed for construction to begin, leaving them about $750,000 short.

JoAnn Jones, a trustee with the library district, tells EastIdahoNews.com they’ve applied for a grant that will provide the needed funds, but before it’s approved they need to have a design in place. They’re actively looking for a building designer who’s willing to provide quality service for a low cost, or even donate their time.

“We had a representative from the state library association who works in Idaho Falls come and meet with us. Libraries have a need for certain things. We already have a space guide for all the areas of the library,” Jones says.

Jones and the rest of the board members are proposing a 7,500-square-foot library with a community room and technology area. They also want to include a children’s area and provide amenities for those with special needs, including a ramp and automatic doors.

The design process isn’t expected to last more than a few days, but getting approved for the grant could last until next spring.

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

Meanwhile, the board has several fundraising projects in the works throughout the summer. They’ll be hosting a duck race, similar to the Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race in Idaho Falls, during the Menan 4th of July celebration. Several quilting raffles and other events are being planned, which you can follow on the library’s Facebook page.

“We’re always interested in people donating (raffle items) for these kinds of things,” Library Director Laurie Willmore says. “We’ve had some really good support (in the past), but it’s just not going to get us there without those grants. And if this doesn’t happen, we could lose the library. We don’t have anywhere to move after our lease is up in 2027.”

menan library
The current library is inside at 1,250-square-foot building at 623A North 3500 East in Menan. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

Remembering the past and looking to the future

Lack of space and an increase in the number of library patrons are the main factors behind getting a new library.

The Menan-Annis-Grant Public Library has operated out of a 1,250-square-foot building behind Midway Elementary since 2002. Prior to that, it shared space with the school library.

“It’s been 40 years since the Menan (public) Library was established,” Jones explains.

Trustee Linda Radford says it was Norma Eames who first designated space for a private library in the old rock schoolhouse in Menan many years ago. She was a teacher and had shelves in her classroom for a small collection of books.

When Midway Elementary was built in the late 1960s, Eames was instrumental in making sure there was an entire room devoted to a library.

“In the mid-1970s, there were some people who got together and decided there was a need for a public library. So they got a petition and if they got so many signatures, they could establish a public library and begin to get funds from property taxes for it,” Radford says.

When the library moved to its current building, Willmore recalls doing storytime with a small group of kids in one corner. Now, it takes up the entire front room.

Inadequate space has also resulted in a number of programs — such as pre-kindergarten reading activities and book clubs — being dropped in recent years.

“The community is growing exponentially. Menan has been growing 83% faster than other similarly sized cities since 2000,” according to a written historical report provided by the library district. “And with the current housing market boom, new people are moving into Menan faster than ever, with its population increasing at 7.96% since the most recent census.”

Willmore says the library is the heart of the community and she doesn’t want it to become a thing of the past. She enjoys watching families visit the library and get excited about checking out books. Her desire is to preserve that for future generations.

“A library is more than just books. We want to keep the books there, but we want to enlarge all the services that go with it,” says Jones.

If you’re a building designer and would like to help out, call (208) 754-0021 or email Menanlibrary@gmail.com.

menan library board
Laurie Willmore, left, Menan-Annis-Grant Public Library director, along with JoAnn Jones, right, and Linda Radford, center, Jefferson County Free Library District trustees. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

library property 2
Property where the future Menan Public Library will be built. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

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