Dabble Day: Tuesday, August 15 2-7 p.m.

Dabble Day

Earlier this year the library unveiled the Dabble Box, a “do-it-yourself” multi-purpose programming space where customers can explore technology, arts, and crafts. It’s been such a wild success that we wanted to take it to the streets . . . Eau Claire Street, that is!

Dabble DayCommunity members are invited to “Play — Make — Share” at an upcoming maker fest hosted by the library. “Dabble Day: A Chippewa Valley Maker Fest” will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, August 15. A partial closure of Eau Claire Street will allow space to explore the Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Mobile Manufacturing Lab and a variety of maker stations with demonstrations and make-and-take activities will be provided by the Dabble Box and several other community partners. 

To really round it out and add that festival atmosphere, music will be played in the outdoor area and two food trucks will be selling all those fried foods you may have missed at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair.

Come to play, come to make, come to explore, just make sure to come!

Tell me more!

Read Books, Win Prizes!

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words: Library Summer Reading Program. Did you flash to your childhood memories of summer vacation spent reading in your bed until the sun was streaming through your window? Or how about memories of your own children visiting the library for fun activities and prizes for all the books that they are reading? When most people think of Summer Reading Programs at their library they most likely think about the program for kids.

But why should kids have all the fun? Don’t you want to win prizes and have some fun this summer? If your answer is yes, join us for the Adult Summer Reading Program! There are four ways to win a prize this summer:

First, you get an instant prize for reading or listening to 3 books. When you turn in your reading slip, you will win either a free book, piece of Lindt Lindor Chocolate Truffles, or a coloring bookmark. Just make sure that you choose the right reading road trip sign on our prize board (it’s a guessing game and you’ll find what you’ve won underneath the road sign).Your next chance to win is in the Weekly Drawing. Each Monday, we’ll choose two slips from the previous week. If your slip is picked, you will win a Reading Road Trip Can Koozie! 

All slips that you complete (you can turn in as many as you can fill!) will be entered into the finale Grand Prize Drawing! The Grand Prize this year is a Tournament Kubb Set (see below picture). We will also be giving away a Pine Kubb Set, an adventure at Tactical Escape 101 for 4, and gift cards and merchandise from other local businesses! Thank you to all the generous donations from the businesses featured in the video below.

Bonus Game! The fourth way to win is by playing our 20 Questions Travel Game! The objective of 20 Questions is quite simple: guess the person, place or thing in 20 questions or less! In our version, you may ask Information & Reference staff one question per day. If you can guess the secret answer by the end of your allotted 20 questions, you will be entered to win a $10 Kwik Trip gift card. 

The program runs until August 15. Don’t miss out on your chance to win! Register here.


Retro Gaming

If you haven’t guessed from my past blog posts, I’m a huge gaming nerd. Some of my earliest memories were playing Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo or Pokemon Blue on the Gameboy. Lately, I’ve been a bit on a nostalgia binge, playing a lot of older games from my youth that helped shape me.


While I’d like to think I was a smart kid, I didn’t have the world’s fastest reaction time or good hand-eye coordination. That made some of the tricks needed to get some of the stars in Super Mario 64 quite challenging. Enough, in fact, that while I was able to “beat” the game, I was never able to get all 120 stars. I’ve since made it my goal to finally get all 120 stars and see Yoshi on top of the castle! I haven’t gotten there just yet but there are too many games and too little time in the day.
I also dove back into some of the older games of one my favorite series, Fire Emblem. Probably my favorite game on the GameCube, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, has kept me busy and flustered as I attempt to complete the game without any of my characters dying on the hardest difficulty.
All of these things have got me thinking that I can’t be the only one itching to play some classic games from their youth again, so I decided to come up with a program at the library. Throwback Thursday Gaming, which will be hosted on April 13 in the Dabble Box from 6-8 p.m. The first event will be Nintendo night! We’ll have a Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and GameCube with all the multiplayer classics! I also have a possible Halo event planned for the month after with 8-16 people being able to square off against each other (if I can get that many systems).

ArtsWest 38

The Occupation by Anders Shafer

The Occupation by Anders Shafer

On Thursday, February 23, local artists and art enthusiasts gathered for the artist reception of Wisconsin ArtsWest, the thirty-eighth annual juried art exhibit sponsored by the library.

The first ArtsWest show opened in September 1979. With ArtsWest Two in April 1981, it became a spring show and has been held annually since then. Since its inception, ArtsWest has provided a venue for thousands of artists to exhibit their talent and creativity, as well as the opportunity for everyone in the community to experience and support the arts in a uniquely personal way.

This year, 84 artists from 22 communities submitted 150 works to be judged for entry into the show. The juror for the exhibit is David H. Wells, the Director of the Edgewood College Art Gallery and collections and an independent community-based curator in Madison, Wisconsin.

Cash awards for the artists were initiated in 1984. Prizes for ArtsWest 38 were selected in person by the juror prior to the artist reception held on Thursday, February 23. The exhibit may be viewed at the library through March 31 during regular library hours: Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. A virtual gallery and program are also available on our website. Let us know what you think!

The prize winners are:

Best of Show
Anders Shafer, Eau Claire
The Occupation

First Prize
Lukas Carlson, Eau Claire
Carlos G. Garcia-Ruiz 

Second Prize
Ann Lawton, River Falls
Chasing Sleep

Third Prize
Tiffany Lange, Menomonie
Cookie Cutter

Honorable mention was given to:

Mark Anderson, Eau Claire
Artist’s Studio Apartment

Daniel Atyim, Eau Claire
Between the Mounds

Debra Ferries, Eau Claire
Borrego Blooms

Mary Jo Fox, Willard
Three Sunflowers 

Mary Hermanson, Eleva
Black and White Lace

Gail Schellinger, Eau Claire
Struck by Lightening

Sandra Starck, Eau Claire
Ms. Jenny Wren

Carlos G. Garcia-Ruiz by Lukas Carlson

Carlos G. Garcia-Ruiz by Lukas Carlson

Chasing Sleep by Ann Lawton

Chasing Sleep by Ann Lawton

Cookie Cutter by Tiffany Lange

Cookie Cutter by Tiffany Lange


Chippewa Valley Book Festival

The 17th annual Chippewa Valley Book Festival starts today, Monday, October 10!  I am embarrassed to admit that, although I am an Eau Claire native, and an English major, and the festival has been in existence for more than half of my lifetime (okay, only by a teeny bit) I was completely unaware of the festival until I started working at the library, which hosts several events each year.

It is a truly amazing lineup of events and a great way to join fellow literature lovers for conversations about books and life.  No need to wear a fancy outfit, have lines of Proust memorized, or even to have read the books being discussed – all that is required is an eagerness to learn about the writing process and author inspiration and/or an appreciation for great storytelling.

The festival celebrates the written word through author readings and book signings, school visits, meals with authors, and includes workshops and programs for writers of all ages. The 2016 festival will feature more than twenty authors at area libraries, schools and other community locations. The festival begins features programs daily through October 20, with evening programs at five area public libraries. Below is a list of events happening here at the library, but check out the website for the program details and full slate of events.

Friday, October 14 | 4 p.m.
Nadine St. Louis Poetry Reading

Saturday, October 15
9:30 a.m. | Curt Meine, author of Aldo Leopold: His Life and Work
10:45 a.m. | Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound and When She Woke
1 p.m. | Susan Gloss, author of Vintage
2:15 | Weina Dai Randel, author of The Moon in the Palace
3:30 | Lucie Amundsen, author of Locally Laid: How We Built a Plucky Industry-Changing Egg Farm

Monday, October 17 | 7 p.m.
Jon Loomis, author of Mansion of Happiness

Banned Books are a Drag

When most folks think of the library, they think books. But the library is so much more.  Sure, we also have movies and CDs and downloadable media like e-books and music.  And we offer free Wi-Fi and loan iPads and Wi-Fi Hotspots.  And we have an amazing lineup of programs for kids and adults (if I do say so myself).  But the library is still so much more…

In addition to all of the physical items in our collection, the library’s greatest attribute is access.  You see, inside all of those books and movies and internet sites are ideas. And ideas are a very powerful thing.  Some ideas are so powerful and potentially life altering that people may be frightened of them and think they need to be restricted, or even completely removed from libraries.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of someone else making decisions about the kind of ideas I should have to be quite frightening.   That’s where librarians come in.  While you may think of us as cat-loving, shawl-knitting, bun-wearing nerds (okay, maybe there are some truths to those stereotypes), we are actually pretty militant defenders of ideas, of making sure that everyone has access to a wide range of information and ideas, even those that are less than popular.

Banned Books Week (September 23 – October 1) was instituted in 1982 to celebrate our freedom to read what we choose.  The library supports those ideals throughout the year as we select diverse books and other materials to add to our collection.  We are probably the only place in town where you will find a gay romance novel next to the latest book from Bill O’Reilly. Well, I mean not right next to…the Dewey Decimal system would never allow that!

In celebration of your freedom to read whatever you choose, I would like to invite you to the “Banned! Books in Drag: Comedy and Drag Show” event on Saturday, October 1 starting at 8 p.m.  It’s sure to be a ton of fun as Minneapolis comedian Maggie Faris returns and is joined by local drag performers Khloe Wold, Jem Stone, Ophelia Junque, and Dominique DeGrant.  Check out our website for more info!

Winter Reading Program

It has been suggested by those closest to me that I may have a reading problem. I have to confess that I think it’s true. I read obsessively. I even chain-read sometimes, digging into the preface of a new book a heartbeat after finishing the author bio in the previous book. I know they say the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem, but in my case that’s likely to be the last step as well. If reading is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

Here at the library our adult winter reading program “Curl Up and Read” is in full swing. If you haven’t participated in the past, this is a great year to register and join the fun, because our grand prizkindlefiree is a 7 inch Kindle Fire! It’s easy to participate. Just read or listen to three books, then list them on an entry form. You will also be asked to write a one or two sentence review of one of the books. We collect the reviews and share them anonymously in a display at the reference desk. There is no limit to the number of entries you can make, just be sure to have your forms in by Monday, February 29. To be eligible for prizes, your card must be in good standing (fines must be below $10.00).

Reading is by its nature a solitary pursuit, but I really like the feeling of community that comes with enrolling in the reading program. I especially enjoy writing and reading the book reviews. It feels good to share your impressions of a book with others, and I’ve gotten a lot of good book suggestions from other participants’ reviews. Want even more suggestions for what to read? While you’re here, check out our new Readers Corner reading guides. Whether you’re interested in trying out a new genre, or just want some suggestions for the genres you already love, you’re sure to find some ideas. Or perhaps you’d like to pamper yourself with our new Personalized Reading Suggestions service. You heard that right, folks. Fill out the form as completely as you can, and we’ll recommend books just for you. It’s rock star service for readers.

Before I close, I’d like to share my first book review for this year’s winter reading program. The Oregon Trail : a new American journey by Rinker Buck. It was one of Nancy’s Pearl’s favorite books of 2015. In a WPR radio interview, she described it as her “go-to” book of the year. Coming from the only librarian I know of with her own action figure, I found that an impressive recommendation. My review may not be as in depth as the one she gave, but it does fit inside the Curl Up and Read review snowman.snowmanreview

Feel like sharing your own haiku-style review of one of your favorite books? We’d love to hear from you.

October Happenings

When I was reminded that it was my turn to do a blog, I had no idea what I would write. I decided to look at Chases Annual Events 2015 for inspiration. As most months go, there are a lot of activities in October. I thought I would share some of them with you. People can find just about anything to celebrate.

I started out looking at the month long celebrations; American cheese month. Of course you can’t go wrong with cheese anytime of the year, but a whole month of different cheeses, heaven. Go hog wild –Eat county ham month; I have always like ham especially when you buy a whole one and cook it all day, covering the outside with cloves and brown sugar and pineapple juice, I’m making myself hungry just thinking about it.

National popcorn poppin’ month: One of my favorite snacks especially when it is a cool evening is hot buttered popcorn or maybe caramel corn or popcorn balls. My Grandma always made popcorn balls this time of year. How about spinach lover’s month? You can’t go wrong with hot spinach with vinegar on it. If you have never sprinkled vinegar on hot spinach I recommend you give it a try.

Vegetarian month is a great time to try different vegetable dishes or vegetables you have never tried. We have great cookbooks with a lot of difference recipes you can try out. They can be found on the second floor of the library around 641.5636. As you can see there is a lot of food to celebrate, along with festivals, and other events such as Polish American heritage month or the first barrel jump over Niagara Falls anniversary which is on October 24th. Annie Edson Taylor (63) went over and survived. I would never do that, but I say more power to all you adventurous people out there.

World championship “punkin chunkin” on the 23rd people create all kinds of mechanisms like trebuchets a medieval engine of war with a sling for hurling missiles which I would guess pumpkins would count or on the low tech side throw by hand to see how far they will fly. I always thought this might be a fun event to go to. I could go for throwing a small pumpkin to see how far it would go, the big ones not so much.

And of course on the 31st is that gastronomic overload of candy – Halloween. After some thought I believe that October just may turn out to be one of my favorite months.


Get Your Art On!

Cirlcle of Friends

“Circle of Friends” by Karen Crain

According to the calendar, summer starts June 21. I’ve come to define summer as the first Saturday I can do two of my favorite downtown activities: shop at the Phoenix Park farmer’s market and stroll through downtown to view the Eau Claire Sculpture Tour.

Although my artistic skills are limited to drawing barely recognizable stick figures, I have always appreciated art. All kinds of art from floral photographs to stirring abstracts. Luckily for me, Eau Claire has a bunch of public galleries to see new work by regional artists as well as a few traveling exhibits. The Janet Carson Gallery at the Eau Claire Regional Arts Center and the Foster Gallery at the UWEC campus are probably the two most well-known local galleries.   Did you know the Local Store, Tangled Up in Hue and yes, even the library also display work by regional artists?

City in White

“City in White” by Mark Horton

Many local businesses also display a permanent collection of 2D and 3D art in their buildings. One of the first public outdoor sculptures was installed at the library in 1971. The library now has over a dozen drawings, paintings and sculptures, including two Eau Claire Sculpture Tour sculptures funded by generous donations raised in the community.

Recently, the library received a donation of a new painting. Originally part of a private collection, “City in White” by Mark Horton is a serene oil painting of a bustling urban cityscape. The painting now hangs in a second floor seating area near the DVD collection. Be sure to check it out on your next visit to the library!

What about you…what are your favorite public art spaces in Eau Claire? Do you have any favorite sculptures, or want to know more about one of our local sculptures? Let us know in the comments section below.