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Bonneville County celebrating grand opening of 2 new libraries this weekend

Local

AMMON – The Bonneville County Library District is busy preparing for the opening of two new libraries. A branch at 3015 South 25th East in Ammon and another at 250 South Skyline Drive will open on Oct. 1.

Renovations on the Ammon location is winding down and library employees and volunteers are stocking the shelves with books donated by the community.

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Since the lease was signed for both locations in June, Library Director Michelle Tolman tells EastIdahoNews.com many volunteers have spent hundreds of hours making preparations and members of the community have donated more than 55,000 books.

“The community has really stepped up. We have gotten donations from Ashley Furniture. It was so beautiful. I was able to get shelving for a tenth of what it normally (costs),” Tolman says. “Our board has been amazing. They’ve (gone above and beyond) what’s needed, helping with moving things and cataloging. We’ve had donations come in from every aspect of this.”

The Ammon location is 7,000 square feet and is in the space formerly occupied by Lane Bryant adjacent to Bed Bath & Beyond and Deseret Book. The branch on Skyline is in a 1,340-square-foot space inside a medical office building. Get a look inside in the video above.

books at library skyline
Books inside the Skyline branch. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

The addition of these libraries is new territory for Bonneville County. Since 1981, it’s contracted with the city of Idaho Falls for library services. The contract expires on Sept. 30 and in May, the county library board opted not to renew it. This means only those living within city limits can use the Idaho Falls Public Library without paying a nonresident fee.

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The Bonneville County Library District includes the entire county, except for Idaho Falls city limits and Ririe. A map is available here. The Swan Valley and Iona branches are part of the library district as well.

Bringing a library to Ammon has been an ongoing conversation for at least 20 years and Tolman has been an active participant in that discussion.

“I’d wanted library service to get closer to the people for many years. I was active in a group that was trying to get an Ammon branch 15 or 20 years ago, so I knew about the dynamics between the two entities for a long time,” says Tolman.

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When the debate about the service agreement was going on earlier this year, Tolman felt compelled to step in. She did lots of research and presented her findings to the board.

“I had a vision of what needed to happen and how great this could be. It’s coming true, which is amazing and miraculous to me,” says Tolman. “I never expected to become the director … but I’m so grateful that they had faith in me.”

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Tolman was hired as the director of the Ammon and west side branch in May.

The position is a labor of love for Tolman, who runs a business full-time in Ammon. She’s moved by the way this project has been as much about building the community as it has building a library.

She’s looking forward to unveiling it during a grand opening on Oct. 1.

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“We have children come in and seeing (the books they’ve contributed) makes me a little teary,” Tolman says, as she starts to cry. “Special needs people have stamped those books. Children have stamped those books. It’s their library and they love it and they are so grateful for it.”

Tolman is planning to decorate the walls of the Ammon branch with pictures of members of the community. The ribbon-cutting and grand opening will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday. A grand opening for the west side branch will be held the same day at 1 p.m.

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