New public library needs design and funding before construction can begin
MENAN – The construction of a new public library in Menan has been a slow and continuous process over the past few years, but library board members hope to get 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 Menan City Park. A local family donated the land for the project in 2017. Trustees of the Jefferson County Free Library District have organized numerous fundraising efforts over the years. To date, they have acquired $250,000. A total of $1 million is needed for construction to begin, leaving them with a shortfall of around $750,000.
Library district administrator JoAnn Jones told EastIdahoNews.com that they have applied for a grant that will provide the necessary funds, but before it can be approved they must have a design in place. They are actively looking for a building designer who is willing to provide quality service at low cost, or even volunteer their time.
“A representative from the State Library Association who works in Idaho Falls came to meet with us. Libraries need certain things. We already have a space guide for all areas of the library,” says Jones.
Jones and the rest of the council members are proposing a 7,500 square foot library with a community room and technology space. They also want to include a children’s area and provide amenities for people with special needs, including a ramp and automatic doors.
The design process shouldn’t take more than a few days, but grant approval could take until next spring.
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Meanwhile, the council has several fundraising projects underway throughout the summer. They will hold a duck race, similar to the Great Snake River Greenbelt Duck Race in Idaho Falls, during the 4th of July celebration in Menan. Several quilt raffles and other events are planned, which you can follow the library’s Facebook page.
“We’re always interested in donations (raffle items) for this stuff,” says library manager Laurie Willmore. “We’ve had really good support (in the past), but it just won’t get us there without these grants. And if that doesn’t happen, we could lose the library. We have nowhere to move after our lease ends in 2027.”
Remembering the past and looking to the future
The lack of space and the increase in the number of library users are the main factors behind the acquisition of a new library.
The Menan-Annis-Grant Public Library has operated since 2002 in a 1,250 square foot building located behind Midway Elementary School. Previously, it shared the space with the school library.
“It’s been 40 years since the Menan (public) library was established,” says Jones.
Trustee Linda Radford says it was Norma Eames who first designated space for a private library in the former Menan School of Rock 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 ensuring there was an entire room devoted to a library.
“In the mid-1970s, some people got together and decided there was a need for a public library. So they got a petition and if they got that many signatures, they could start a public library and start getting property tax money for it,” Radford says.
When the library moved to its current building, Willmore remembers doing story time with a small group of children in the corner. Now it takes up the entire front room.
Lack of space has also led to the abandonment of a number of programs – such as pre-kindergarten reading activities and book clubs – in recent years.
“The community is growing exponentially. Menan has grown 83% faster than other towns of a similar size since 2000,” according to a written historical report provided by the Library District. “And with the current boom in the housing market, new people are moving to Menan faster than ever, with its population increasing by 7.96% since the last 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 getting excited about borrowing books. His desire is to preserve this for future generations.
“A library is not just books. We want to keep the books there, but we want to expand all the services that go with it,” says Jones.
If you are a building designer and would like to help, call (208) 754-0021 or email [email protected]