Cartoon image of people wearing masks to stop the spread

YES, WE ARE OPEN!

As with so many places around the country, and the world, the Eau Claire library is now open for business.

And like most businesses or organizations, it is not business as usual.  You need to know right off that anyone coming into the library, for any reason, or any amount of time, needs to schedule an appointment. Also, know that same day appointments are not currently schedulable.

First, yes indeed, we are open for you to come into the library to browse all of the libraries materials such as books, DVDs, or CDs for 1 hour. We allow only 10 people in the building for browsing per hour, a mask is required (unless you have a health issue or under the age of 2), social distancing is encouraged, and we ask that you bring your library card with you. Using the self-checkout machines helps to eliminate as much contact between people as possible.

Second, if you choose to not come into the library, we offer a contactless library pickup service in the lower level, which used to be for parking. Once materials are on hold, and ready to be picked up, customers schedule a time within 5 days to pick their items up. When contacted, customers are instructed to drive to a certain lane, at a certain time, from 10-5, and 10-4:30 on Saturdays. Library materials are placed on a cart, with the normal hold slips that have their patron alias, and are already checked out on their card.

Third, you may reserve a computer on the second floor for 75-minutes, and have access to the printers. Need copies, or something scanned? The folks in reference are happy to assist you. Tax forms?  Reference materials? Voter registration? Yes, we can help. Call 715-839-5004 to schedule your appointment between 10:15 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Last, should you need our Community Resource Specialist for questions on food, housing, mental health, substance abuse, parenting, children, domestic violence, education, or unemployment, please contact Libby Richter at 715-839-5061, or email her at libbyr@eauclaire.lib.wi.us.

What is not open?  Well, most other services are not.  The monthly free legal clinic, which has gone on for decades, and is extremely popular, is on hold.  Same with the Dabble Box, although you may still check out the Dabble Box kits.  All of the meeting rooms are closed for now, ArtsWest is virtual this year, and the summer reading programs are online.  In short, most activities are not happening right now. I sadly miss my BookBike shifts.

While the library staff has done an amazing job getting items together, and out the door, it has been noted that phone calls are not always answered, and things do get missed. We take hundreds of calls each day, and we are super heroes, but really human after all.

Please know we are open 10-4 Monday-Friday, which means if you work a typical 9-5 job, well, you are hosed to actually come into the library. Please keep in touch, and check our website and Facebook page. Library staff will adapt once schools open, looking at ways that best suit both the public and staff. As with any business or organization, you need to keep up, as changes due to the coronavirus are constantly changing.

Reservations? For curbside or browsing appointments, call circulation at 715-839-5066. For computer reservations, call reference at 715-839-5004. The Reference Team is here to assist and answer phones 10-5 Monday-Friday. We would love to hear from you.

So give us a call!  We are open for business!

To Socialize, Or Not To Socialize

It shouldn’t have to be a question!

Though we refer to the expectation of distancing ourselves from others around us as “social distancing,” it does not mean that we have to negate all social activities we could have with others. Socializing is best in person, but that is not necessarily the only method of socializing. The modern technological marvels we have access to provide us with a means of socializing that has been historically impossible. We don’t have to be locked up without any way of communicating as our ancestors had with Spanish Influenza, so why not take advantage of the resources at hand? “What resources?” you might ask. Well, let me share a few with you.

Craving some face-to-face time with family and friends? If you haven’t heard of Zoom, where have you been? It’s free to sign up and easy to get started. You can also use the “video call” feature in Google Hangouts if you already have a Google account. You can even get creative and work in some visual games like Heads Up! or Pictionary.

Image courtesy of Tumisu CCO

Missing out on board game night? I know I am! There are so many options available out there. If you want a really genuine board game experience where you can pick up and move those pieces around the board and you enjoy the authenticity of calculating everything yourself as you play, go check out Tabletopia. You can play many games for free and play with your friends online. But be careful, the free reign of the board means you have to keep on eye on those players who like to make “mistakes.” You know who I’m talking about.

If having to do everything yourself with the board games sounds like too much hassle, check out Board Game Arena. It’s free to sign up and you can join any existing tables that have been started. Most of the games are completely free to host yourself, but the premium titles like Carcassonne and Kingdomino require a subscription to host. Though, you can always ask if someone would kindly host a game for you through the website’s chat feature.

Maybe you aren’t such a board game fan, but you really miss playing card night with the regulars. Well, there are some great options there too! If you are looking for that genuine experience, once again, there’s a website for that! Check out playingcards.io where you can pull in as many decks of playing cards as you like, manipulate their contents to match your game, and play a few rounds of your favorite card game. And the best thing of all, there is no need for an account! Every game receives its own unique address that you share with your friends for access. Unlike the other options in this post, all communication will require another application like Zoom, Discord, or your favorite chat app.

There are, of course, many options to play card games where the computer keeps track of the rules. Anyone who remembers the 90s will likely recall Solitaire on their computer that was a Windows staple for years. One of the most popular online playing cards resources is Cardzmania. Like playingcards.io, it requires no login. Anyone can host a game and simply share the match’s address for friends to join. Cardzmania will even provide computer-controlled bots to fill in if you need more players.

Image courtesy of Piotrus CC BY-SA 2.5

Chances are, if you’re a tabletop roleplayer, you have probably heard of Roll20, but this is both a reminder to the veteran players and nudge in the right direction for the TTRPG curious. Roll20 is a versatile tool that allows a group of roleplayers to coordinate via the website with their online character sheets, dice rolling, and maps to play their favorite tabletop roleplaying games online. It’s free to use the basic features for both players and the game master and provides the GM with even more tools if they wish to subscribe. It’s not a bad idea to use something like Zoom to help keep the experience genuine.

There are so many options to socialize in our “socially distanced” world right now. Take care of your social health and take advantage of the resources available out there! Social distancing doesn’t mean there is no socializing. Just socializing distantly.

Getting Things Done

My summers are usually filled with lots of fun events. Normally, we go on a road trip (or two), attend music festivals, play on a volleyball league, and enjoy our time at the fairgrounds. Now suddenly, I find myself left with canceled events and lots of time on my hands.

You’d think that I would be super productive right now and have so many tasks checked off my list. Instead, I find myself struggling with picking up a book, getting to my organization projects at home, and finding the motivation to get on the treadmill.

I decided that enough was enough and that something needed to change. I’ve been wanting to read Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen for a while now. I finally picked up the audiobook and have found lots of inspiration on how to become more productive. My biggest takeaway so far has been to write EVERYTHING down. Allen describes your short-term memory like RAM (the main memory in most computers). If there are too many things that you are trying to remember, your brain will crash. Allen gives some great advice on how to process and organize all the “stuff” you are juggling. For a quick crash course from David Allen on GTD, check out this 20-minute Tedx talk from Claremont College.

 

Dare to Experiment

As the pandemic has kept me mostly confined to my workplaces and home, I’ve found I’ve had a lot more time to delve deep into the Internet. Specifically, I have become obsessed with three YouTube series, The Burger Show, Burger Scholar Sessions, and Strictly Dumpling. I spend my evenings with a video game on one computer screen and a video on the other. What I wasn’t planning was how much these channels would inspire me to try some new foods or cook some of the things I’ve seen.

The Burger Show and Burger Scholar Sessions showed me plenty of neat tricks to up my burger game, but my favorite has to be putting a pile of extremely thin sliced Vidalia onion strips on your burger patties before smashing them. It caramelizes the onions and enhances the taste of the patty itself all at the time! I used a vegetable peeler to get them to the right thinness. My next venture with burgers will probably be to try out the Memphis deep-fried burger!

As for Strictly Dumpling, I’d recommend not watching before bed unless you want to go to bed hungry or filled with regret from snacking. Mike Chen goes around the world trying all kinds of cool local eats. In my attempt to live a similar lifestyle, I recently ordered from a local Asian restaurant and only ordered things I had never had before. I was rewarded with everything being delicious!

However, there was one thing I saw in a couple of his videos that I couldn’t seem to find on menus around the area, and that was crispy pork belly. Queue early last week, I was at my local butcher shop and saw that they had pork belly with the skin on and I knew it was destiny. I went home and looked up a great recipe for Siu Yuk and I went and picked up all the other ingredients I needed. I was rewarded with a tantalizing dish that I can’t wait to make again!

Blocks spelling wellness

Nurturing Wellness

It is time for wellness check in. Today we are choosing to look inward and focus on ourselves, not the rest of the chaos of the world. This is not about a battle with ourselves, but rather reminding ourselves how strong and amazing our bodies are and that we can assist ourselves in doing a little better where needed. We are going to assess and work on the dimensions of wellness in our lives. We cannot entirely eliminate stress or illness from our lives; what we can do is support the different domains of wellness so that we can be better prepared for life’s challenges. This is called “coping ahead” before we hit the challenges.

The dimensions of wellness are:

Intellectual: Engaging in creative or stimulating mental activities, expanding knowledge and skills.

Example actions: Taking a class for fun/ to learn something new, watching videos online to learn something new, learning a new language, reading something different than you normally would.

Occupational: Personal job satisfaction and enrichment in your life.

Example actions: Finding ways to be fulfilled in your job or by volunteering to utilize your skills.

Financial: Comfort with your financial situation.

Example actions: Budgeting, making financial plans, obtaining a financial mentor.8 dimensions of wellness

Environmental: Being in pleasant and stimulating environments that support your well-being.

Example actions: Picking up trash, being in nature, recycling.

Physical: Meeting the body’s physical needs.

Example actions: Physical activity, eating well, sleeping well, avoiding or reducing the use of substances, getting medical checkups, wearing safety gear (masks, lifejackets, seatbelts, etc.)

Social: Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a strong support system.

Example actions: Intentionally seeking out others (have a meal, join a volunteer or special interest group), learn about other backgrounds and cultures.

Emotional: Coping effectively with life and managing emotionally healthy relationships.

Example actions: Utilizing stress management techniques, meditation, seeking out a therapist or other professional support, learning to be comfortable with hard emotions and how to safely express them.

Spiritual: Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life.

Example actions: Volunteering, becoming a member of a group that holds similar beliefs, being in nature, connecting with yourself, doing good deeds for others.

Let’s look into strengthening these domains. Take a moment and review each of these domains and what you are currently doing in each domain. Think about whether or not you are feeling satisfied in each domain. If you identify an area that feels like it is not as strong or not as fulfilling, write that down. Then write down what you are already doing in that domain, or what you have done in the past that has worked for you. For example, maybe you feel that your financial wellness domain is struggling, and you are not currently using a budget, but in the past that worked really well for you. Do not reinvent the wheel, utilize what has worked for you! If you are ready to try something new, and enhance a wellness area, then stimulate multiple areas of wellness by doing a little research to find out how to boost your wellness. For example, if you want to enhance your environmental wellness, talk to friends and family about their favorite eco-friendly products, or their favorite outdoor spaces to be in, do research and grow your passion for caring for this domain. By reaching out and doing research you are boosting your social and intellectual wellness while learning how to boost another domain!

Continue to focus on what is going well for you, and build off of that. If you are looking for more information on how to enhance an area of wellness, or are interested in learning something new, reach out to our staff to find materials or resources that may help you on this journey.

Be well.

 

Total Lunar Eclipse photograph

Season of the Witch

It has been sixteen weeks since my daughter was last in school with her friends, her first grade teacher, her regular routine. The last time she sat down with her best friends in the cafeteria or made a piece of art surrounded by her peers. The last time I got to walk her the two blocks to school and pick her up at the end of the day. These sudden changes seemed so drastic, but they didn’t really seem permanent. There was still a chance that she would be getting back to school before the end of the year. She would be performing in the Grandparents’ Day Concert in the school gymnasium, sitting with her best friends at lunch, and we would be walking to school together every morning. That everyday routine was going to return. Until it didn’t.

Instead, we had to pivot. We learned how to navigate a new online learning system and navigate Google Classroom. We practiced songs for the Grandparents’ concert in the office accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation. We (well, she) learned about the transmutative and commutative properties of multiplication. Conversations with friends were conducted via FaceTime and Google Hangouts. She read books on a computer and had lunch at home everyday surrounded by her cats. She adjusted admirably, until she didn’t. Fortunately, she didn’t hit that wall of disgust with the “new normal” until the school year was almost over, but I don’t think she’ll ever look back on those final months of first grade and remember how much she enjoyed the preferred online learning platform they opted to use for reading and phonics and spelling and math.

Then came summer. She cannot return to swim lessons at the Y or meet her friends at a park for a playdate. The summer sessions she was registered for were cancelled. The school district has offered online learning opportunities for the summer, and that’s something. She continues to have virtual playdates with friends and with her cousins, but there won’t be any trips up north or to Minneapolis this summer. No trips to Chicago to see friends and catch a Cubs game. Once again, we’ve had to pivot.

So we’ve upgraded our pink plastic kiddie pool to a larger inflatable pool, one that she can float and almost swim in. We found a deal on a used bike so she can practice riding, something she has finally shown an interest in. We now have a makeshift disc golf course in the backyard and she’s getting better and better at her backhand grip. We’re continuing our annual tradition of raising Monarch butterflies and she helped to plant a garden with kohlrabi, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers.

We also have weekly visits from Viktor Krum, and Sirius Black and when we leave the house, we have to make sure that Harry and Ron have their bowties on straight and that Hermione’s hair is brushed. She has held trials for the cats, two of which have been sentenced to “Catskaban.” Buckbeak is living in the garage, and we practice spells on Lucius, Narcissa, and Bellatrix (but never the unforgivable curses). She receives books via Owl Post and takes online classes for Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and Charms. We have been reading the books every night since lockdown and the world of HP has become for her, like so many others, an effective means of escape. Through these beloved characters, she is learning about loyalty, friendship, courage, and yes, even evil.

This is what fantasy does for us. It dilutes the real world enough that we can swallow it. Through the lens of fantasy, something that is too big to handle in the real world can be colored in ways that are easier to understand. Yes, she can grasp the importance of wearing a mask in public to protect herself and others from this virus, but it’s a bit more fun if we can also pretend that the mask will protect us from a Dementor’s kiss. It is now also easier to convince her that she should brush her hair just as often as Hermione.

Our kids don’t need to know everything that is going on. They need our presence and our protection. But with the right tools, we can help them start to understand and comprehend these things on their own in ways that are more real to them than lists of things to do or not do.  If our little “Season of the Witch” is keeping her happy, entertained, and imaginative through a pandemic, civil unrest, and an upcoming election, I’m just fine with that. And what will we do come fall when classes resume, either virtually or in-person? We will pivot again, wands at the ready.

When Next We Meet

Since mid-March, the library team has worked diligently to ensure our customers have access to experiences such as online reading, online story time, WiFi, in-library materials, Home Delivery Services through books by mail, virtual reference services, hold pickup services, and so much more. The Reference Services Team is looking forward to reaching our new normal with customer and staff safety at the heart of our efforts. There is so much we would like to share with you. Join us in the library by setting up an appointment!

A technology service desk?
Have you experienced email issues, printing problems, or flustered with formatting a resume properly? We can help! We’ve added a tech help service desk near the Business Center and print release station to be readily available to provide help on library technology. You’ll also notice we have situated computers to support 6 feet of social distancing.

If you’re in need of support on the computers, our tech help team member can assist from a distance using a mobile laptop station to provide tips and tricks to make your computer experience less frustrating.

Chat with a Reference team member!
Since the COVID pandemic closure, the Reference Services team wanted to make sure we kept live communication convenient. In addition to answering phone calls and voicemail, we are available to chat with customers online, too! You will be communicating with either Anna, Brad, Charlie, Elizabeth, Jon, Michaela, or Stephanie. By visiting any one of the library’s pages on the website, you’ll find a chat icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the page. Simply click on the icon, and type in your question. We are very happy to help with live virtual services Monday – Friday 10-5. You can also leave a voicemail or send us an email outside of these service hours. We will respond within 1-2 business days.

Nearly four months have passed since we had the pleasure of providing in-person assistance, observe customers finding their treasures, and participate in their quest for seeking information. Exchanging a smile and greeting with our regular customers is such a distant memory, yet an experience worth continuing. Though we have not stopped taking phone calls and emails, checking in with our customers face to face is a practice we truly look forward to experiencing once again.

Visit our webpage explaining what services we have available during your appointment: https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/covid/

Call us at 715-839-5004 to make your appointment today!

Adult Summer Reading is a GO!

Change and uncertainty have become the new norm, but there are some things that remain constant. The Packers and the Bears are still rivals, gravity prevents us from floating off into space, and the library will offer a summer library program.

You read that right! The library may not be open yet and yes, we’re a couple of weeks later than usual, but the summer library program is here! There are, of course, a few changes and we’re excited to introduce some fun new challenges, too.

The biggest change is how you log your progress. This summer, the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library gives you the option to go paperless! (Though we do, of course, still have paper records available to either print or pick up.) Register online using the web-based challenge tracker Beanstack or download the Beanstack Tracker app. Once you’ve created your account, you can add your family members to that same account; adults, children, and teens can all participate in summer library programs.

How we measure your progress is a bit different, too. In past years, we’ve asked you to record how many books you read and submit a slip for every three titles. This year, we’re challenging you to read for 20 hours between June 15 and August 15 (that’s an average of 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week, for 8 weeks). For every two hours you read, you’ll earn a ticket to enter into the prize drawings of your choice. This year’s prizes include a grand prize $100 Dotters Books gift card, four different themed prize bundles, and seventy-five gift cards for local businesses.

Reading isn’t the only way to earn prize tickets this summer. We’ve included 14 activity challenges you may complete for extra chances to win! Some of the challenges involve reading, such as Read On The Go (read an e-book or e-audiobook) and Soundtrack Surprise (listen to music you discovered in a book). Others challenge you to expand your horizons, such as Hit Those Local Trails (take a walk in nature) and Give Back (do something nice for your community).

We’ll wrap up our program with a virtual trivia contest on Friday, August 14 from 6-8 p.m. The theme will be Myths, Stories, and Fairy Tales. Check back later for more details!

Questions? Contact Information and Reference at 715-839-5004 or librarian@eauclaire.lib.wi.us.

Want more information about the youth summer library program? Check out the program description or contact Youth Services at 715-839-5007 or ysstaff@eauclaire.lib.wi.us.

Photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr. with the words "I Have a Dream."

Peaceful Protests

In light of the recent local protests that turned worldwide, and sometimes violent, I thought that a quick history lesson on peaceful protests was a needed topic to discuss.

Since the United States is a democracy, the power lies with the people. We the people are given a voice in government, with the right to exercise that voice to help create change. And certainly, this grows exponentially when multiple voices are together in protests or marches. Anyone remember a protest with 12 people?

Our country has had several peaceful protests that have led to significant change, without any violence whatsoever.

1. Boston Tea Party, 1773. As many of you may remember from elementary school. To protest the high tax of tea on America by England, several colonists dropped 340 crates of tea into the sea. This small, but significant, protest helped to launch the American Revolution.

2. March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, 1963. 200,000 people listened to Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Later that same year Dr. King met with President Kennedy to discuss options and remedies. This primed the enactment of the Civil Rights Act the following year, and the Voting Rights Act in 1965.

Photograph of Women's Suffrage March.

3. Woman’s Suffrage Parade, 1913. More than 8,000 marchers gathered in Washington, D.C. to protest a woman’s right to vote. It did take 7 more years before the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920, but this protest in 1913 was the first suffrage parade of its kind.

4. March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation, 1993. Over 800,000 people gathered here for LGBTQ rights. This march helped gain national momentum for same-sex couples, plus made great strides in the struggle to find a cure for HIV/AIDS.

5. Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Protest, 1911. In 1911, 146 workers were killed in a fire working in an unsafe factory. This tragedy led to a march of nearly 800,000 people on Fifth Avenue in New York, which helped pass new laws to ensure working place safety. This movement gave us laws that we still use today, such as a minimum wage and collective bargaining as a union.

These 5 events were turning points in our history, all non-violent, and all made significant changes to our laws. Yes! Please, exercise your rights to march, protest, and help to create change. But please find it in your heart to do so peacefully.

As always, the library has tons of stuff on American history, laws, protests, and forms of government. Need help? Ask us upstairs at Information & Reference, email librarian@eauclaire.lib.wi.us, or call 715-839-5004.

Nonprofit Resources

Nonprofits benefit their communities by responding to the needs of the at-risk and marginalized, by supporting community goals, and more. If you’ve ever thought about starting a non-profit, or if you’re running a non-profit and looking for additional assistance, the library can help.

The library website has three pages to support nonprofits: Resources for Nonprofits, Search Grants, and Grant Writing. If you’re thinking about starting a nonprofit, take a look at a step-by-step guide to starting a nonprofit and view Candid’s frequently asked questions. Looking for funding? You can search local and national grants. You’ll need to be in the library during your search; however, the Foundation Directory Online is available offsite as of this writing.

The online catalog can also help you refine your mission and successfully apply for grants. Searching for CVFRP will display physical and digital items related to starting and running nonprofits. Additionally, Candid has an e-card available to search their library specializing in nonprofits. Anyone can sign up for a Candid e-card; the video below shows how to do so using Libby:

Have more questions about nonprofits? Contact Information & Reference for more information. Call us at 715-839-5004, send an email to librarian@eauclaire.lib.wi.us, or chat with us online.