The predecessor to the Oneida Free Library District was the Malad Public Library Association, incorporated on December 26, 1914, and was first housed in a small room on the second floor of the Co-op building with Miss Elizabeth McDougle, a school teacher serving as a part-time librarian. The next home for the library was a small room on the second floor of the R.T. Owens building (now the Thomas Electric building), run gratuitously by Miss Cassie Jenkins from about 1926 to 1956. The basic source of funding was the "pay shelf" supplemented by a small annual donation from Malad City. Early in the 1940's the library moved to the third floor of the new Oneida County Courthouse and later in the forties, as the need for more county office space arose, the library was jammed into a tiny room in the basement of the Courthouse. Upon the death of Cassie Jenkins in September 1956, the library closed.
In 1957, due to the Federal Library Service Act, Mrs. Ione Jones was appointed by the Governor to a State Planning Committee, and a group of civic-minded workers was organized locally as "Friends of the Library" to develop an interest in a library and to secure support in a coming election of an Oneida County Free Library District. The efforts succeeded in March of 1958, with a favorable vote. With the establishment of the new District, the County Commissioners authorized enlarged space in the basement of the courthouse and the new library opened that fall with Mrs. Ruth Hess as librarian. With heat, light, water, and janitor services furnished by Oneida County, the new library was able to operate for a number of years on a 0.5-mill tax levy.
Mrs. LaRue Tew served as librarian from January 1, 1959, to November 1, 1968. At Mrs. Tew's retirement, Mrs. Helen Price was appointed.
In June of 1974, the Library voted to join the newly formed Gateway Regional Library System which covers libraries in Southeastern Idaho. The Region provides a base for Interlibrary loans, seminars, and training for library staff and trustees. In addition, the state makes grants to libraries to supplement their basic tax support and to enrich their basic supply of books and materials.
Helen Price and the Board of Directors started building the new library in about 1976.
The new Oneida County Library was opened for service on April 18, 1977. Griff Jenkins was instrumental in working with the board for the new library building. The formal dedication was held on September 29, 1977, with Governor John V. Evans as the principal speaker.
The design of the library includes a lava rock front, brick walls, cedar shake roofing, carpeted interior, and a paved off-street parking lot. The one-story 3,844 square-foot building has a study area, a community meeting room, a computer room, a workroom, a checkout desk, and a small librarian's office.
The total cost of the building and new furnishings was approximately $140,000. Funds were obtained from two annual appropriations from the Idaho State Library in construction grants totaling $55,000. Oneida County provided $15,000 in County Revenue Sharing funds and the blacktop for the parking area. The remainder of the funds came from accumulated reserves of the library and current tax revenues. Part of the ground was donated by the D.L. Evans Memorial Foundation (representing the Evans family), a part came from Oneida County and apart from the City of Malad. The architect was Henry J. Hulvey and the Contractor was Lynn Fackerel.
A great part of our present facility is due to the efforts of a great "Friend of the Library", Griff Jenkins, who spent many hours and a lot of hard work making the new Library possible. He has been greatly missed by those who knew him and by our community.
Mrs. Helen Price started the process of automating the library with a computer station at the desk to handle library circulation and a Recon program to put all of the collection on computer as part of the Interlibrary loan service. In 1993, after 25 years of service, Mrs. Price retired as Director/Librarian. In 1994 she was named Idaho Librarian of the Year and was honored for her many years of service.
Yvonne Jensen was hired as the head librarian after Mrs. Price retired and has fully automated the library. She has networked the computer system so that patrons now have access to electronic card catalog and Internet services. Mrs. Jensen keeps up with the latest technology and is continually improving the services available to patrons.
Kay Caldwell became director in April of 2002 when Mrs. Jensen retired. She oversaw the construction of the new Redfield Children's Wing of the library and continued improving the library with library services and programs.
Kathy Kent took over as the director on August 1, 2012, when Kay retired. She is committed to continuing the legacy left by the other directors and improving the library through technology, programs, and collections. The newest additions are downloadable ebooks books and audiobooks through a program called Overdrive and a library app called Destiny Quest. The app allows patrons to reserve books, browse the catalog and renew their books remotely.
Because of the dedicated work of past and present librarians, the library has become a major cultural and educational asset for Oneida County.