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Funding woes slow efforts for a new public library in Menan

A one-acre parcel at 3550 East and 665 North in Menan was donated to the city in 2017. The Jefferson County Free Library District is working to secure funding to build a new 7,500-square foot library at this location. | Rett Nelson,
MENAN – Efforts to secure funding for a new library in Menan haven’t been completely successful as of late, but trustees with the Jefferson County Free Library District aren’t giving up.
Since 2017, library board members have been fundraising to build a new Menan-Annis-Grant Public Library. The current library is in a 1,500-square-foot trailer behind Midway Elementary in Menan. They’re planning to build a 7,500-square-foot building east of the Menan City Park on a one-acre parcel, which was donated to the city by the previous owners.
About $1.5 million is needed to fund the construction. To date, they’ve raised $264,000 through community events. They want it to be a community-driven effort, rather than trying to pass a bond.
RELATED | New public library needs design, grant funding before construction can begin
In May 2022, the board began the application process for three different grants. During a library board meeting Thursday morning, trustee JoAnn Jones said two of those grant requests were recently denied.
“The big one from the state (for $500,000) … turned us down because we were a risk financially. Apparently, we were supposed to have 80% of the money (beforehand) so it could be finished on their timeline, which was 2026,” Jones tells
The board is leaning towards 2027 for a completion date because that’s when their lease expires on the current building.

Menan-Annis-Grant Public Library in May 2022 | Rett Nelson,
The second grant application was also for $500,000 through the Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation. Jones says the Idaho nonprofit didn’t explain why it turned them down, just that “they weren’t able to fund (the project) at this time.”
The library district hasn’t heard back about the third grant, as of Aug. 31, but trustee Linda Radford says getting turned down after months of work was “a punch in the gut.”
RELATED | They’ve wanted a library for over 20 years, and they’re asking for your help to raise funds
They’ve since gone back to the drawing board, and discovered the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides a grant for rural development projects. An informational sheet about the grant doesn’t specify the amount, but explains that rural areas with less than 20,000 residents are eligible to apply, and the funds can be used “to purchase, construct, and/or improve essential community facilities,” including educational services like libraries.
The board opened an application for this grant, and along the way, they’ve learned the CHC Foundation in Idaho Falls provides a similar grant for “publicly supported, tax-exempt, nonprofit organizations and institutions.”
They’re just beginning the CHC grant application. The goal is to have the USDA application completed by next spring.’s story about this issue in May 2022 caught the attention of Terrie Larsen, a Salt Lake woman who grew up in Idaho Falls. She was working as an architect at Brigham Young University-Idaho at the time and contacted the board in support of the cause. She volunteered to design a floor plan of the building, which is included below.

Floor plans for the proposed 7,500-square-foot public library in Menan | Courtesy Jefferson County Free Library District
Larsen tells us what inspired her to get involved.
“I had been studying educational design,” she explains. “I had gone to several seminars across the country and knew a lot about library design. I just wanted to use that knowledge I’d acquired over the years and help give back to the community.”
Larsen recently earned her master’s degree from the University of Nebraska, and is working towards becoming a licensed architect. Along the way, she continues to support the efforts of the library district by making sure the floor plans are code compliant.
The plans include a dome shape that she says is similar in concept to the Central Fire District station in Menan. She’s working with a dome company in the area to make sure the design will work for what they have in mind.
“Right now, I’m technically just consulting with (the library board) and putting ideas together. I can’t sign as their architect until I have taken those exams,” Larsen says. “My biggest concern when I (moved to Salt Lake) was the library. I kept thinking I gotta take care of these ladies because they have the biggest heart for their community.”
Larsen is encouraging people with an engineering background to get involved as well.

Terrie Larsen | Courtesy photo

The library district is appreciative of Larsen’s efforts and say they will continue the grant application process while they hold fundraising events. The board is hosting a Supper in the Park fundraiser on Sept. 16. It will include a pot luck dinner, dessert auction and raffle prizes. It’s happening at the Menan City Park from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Cost is $5 a plate or $20 a family.
The influx of people to the area increases the need for a new library, trustees say, and they’re calling on the community to support the cause in any way they can.
“We appreciate so much the community support and private donations that have been given so far,” the board writes in a written statement. “We may not be able to have the new, large building we really want and need, but we will have a new building of some size, larger than what we now have, on the library’s own property. We ask you in Menan, Annis and Grant to continue your support of this building project for the … improvement of your communities.”
Those who’d like to donate or get involved in any capacity are asked to call (208) 754-0021 or email

Jefferson County Free Library District trustees JoAnn Jones, top left, with Laurie Willmore, right, and Linda Radford. | Rett Nelson,
The post Funding woes slow efforts for a new public library in Menan appeared first on East Idaho News.

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