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!

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.

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.

Adaptation, Inspiration, and Butterflies!

Let me start by saying if you have been scared, anxious, or worried the last three months you are not alone. All of our situations are unique and important to us as individuals. Some of us may have underlying health issues, some of us own a business we put our heart and soul into, some of us are missing our normal routines, some of us are furloughed and don’t know when we will be earning a paycheck again, some of us suffer from anxiety or depression, some of us do not have family nearby and some of us have relatives with underlying health issues, some of us may lose our place to live or are currently homeless. The list goes on but whatever you are worried about at this time it is completely justified and I hope that you are able to find something to enjoy and that makes your heart happy during this unusual time in our history.

I know the Friends, as well as the library, have been busy behind the scenes finding the best way to adjust to new requirements and circumstances to ensure the safety of everyone. Stacy, our Program and Development Coordinator, has been busy working on new and innovative ways to support the library. First, she created a Safer at Home Reading Challenge and all donations from this will go directly to the library to fund their 2020 programs. She has also been working closely with our online appraisal volunteers to list items for sale on the sites we sell on in lieu of physical book sales. She has taken on the task of delivering materials to be appraised to them at their homes, picking them up and also shipping out any sales.

I have been busy behind the scenes with normal day-to-day activities, well as normal as they can be anyway! I have been working with Andria Rice from Youth Services to finalize prizes for the upcoming summer youth program. We have had to make quite a few changes but are confident in our choices and excited about this year’s program. Work, such as ordering books for our Give a Kid a Book and Books for Babies programs, continues. People have definitely shown an interest in volunteering again as soon as possible so I am very excited about that and look forward to seeing familiar faces and welcome new ones as soon as it is safe to do so.

Now on to something that makes my heart happy. Proceed with caution, this writer has tendency to ramble on and on!

It’s been five years ago since my husband and I moved to the area. I was excited to start a new chapter in my life and at the same time nervous to start over in an unfamiliar place, away from all that was comfortable to me. It was not easy being away from my friends and extended family. To be honest I even missed such mundane things as my grocery store!

The house we moved into was very nice but it just didn’t feel like home to me. I was inspired to make it my own, put my own personal touch to it. Sure there were little changes I could make but there wasn’t room in the budget for any major remodel inside or out.

I kept wondering what I could do to add some beauty to our yard and make it unique. The answer finally came to me. One day I was outside and noticed my first Monarch butterfly. In fact, once I started paying attention, I noticed many Monarchs in the area as well as a few Yellow Swallowtails. Also in frequent attendance were dragonflies and many, many birds. I decided to learn all I could about these beauties of nature. That was simple because the library had many resources to offer on the subject of butterflies and butterfly gardening. I decided to put most of my focus towards butterflies as I never really saw any at our home in Illinois despite having planted a butterfly bush. I even visited the awesome Butterfly House at Beaver Creek Reserve. If you have never been, I highly recommend it. It may even inspire you to plant a garden for our lovely winged friends.

Here are a few resources that contained valuable knowledge on the subject and are available at the library once they reopen:

I also recommend Birds and Blooms magazine, be sure to check it out when the library reopens as well.

Being the over-exuberant person that I am I checked out way more materials than I could find time to read but I was determined to have a butterfly-friendly yard. It was slow going at first, just a few plants during the first few years. I didn’t worry about milkweed at the time, which is a must for any butterfly garden, because we had three empty lots next to us that were filled with milkweed plants and all kinds of wildflowers. Not only do the adult butterflies love the flowers milkweed plants produce, but they also lay their eggs on the plant and the caterpillars depend on the leaves for food. Maybe that was my error in Illinois, no milkweed. Thank goodness for the library and the Internet to help guide me to success in this endeavor.

Two years ago the developer suddenly started building new homes in the subdivision so I had to ramp up the garden plans. I immediately started growing milkweed from seeds and we also tried transplanting some from the lots as well. I wanted to make sure that I could provide a place for all the “displaced” butterflies when everything else was torn down for the new homes. It was just my luck that I have rabbits that like milkweed too, which is normally mildly toxic to animals. Who knew, people still don’t believe me when I tell them I have milkweed eating rabbits! Never fear, all of the local nurseries seem to be selling at least common milkweed and in some cases a few other varieties such as whorled milkweed. Some even have a section for native plants and sections dedicated to butterfly and hummingbird favorites. One employee also recommended parsley for swallowtail caterpillars which turned to be a great success. So, with a few quick purchases, some good old chicken wire to keep those rascally rabbits out and a husband that supports my plant buying addiction craziness and also helps to plant said flowers/vegetation, I was back in the butterfly garden business.

While I have seen many caterpillars enjoying the bounty I have provided, I have yet to see a chrysalis or a butterfly emerge from one in my garden but I remain ever hopeful. If not, there is always the Butterfly House at Beaver Creek.

While we still have two empty lots next to us we have heard through the neighborhood gossip line that construction on those two will probably start this year. I am happy to report that I have several areas now that have thriving milkweed and a host of butterfly-friendly plants. I am so thankful for the wonderful garden centers in this area. The variety is endless and visiting them has become somewhat of an addiction, even if I can only browse. Work continues every year to ensure the milkweed comes back and also replacing/adding any perennials that didn’t make it through the winter. It’s a constant work in progress and I love it, it is a great stress reliever for me. It is so much fun to watch the caterpillars and then the butterflies. The neighbors probably aren’t happy because I also decided it was best not to put down lawn treatments to kill the dandelions as they are beneficial to bees. I was and still am determined to make my yard a safe habitat for all creatures that visit, great and small. I’ve also moved on to feeding the birds that come to the yard, especially those adorable hummingbirds, but that’s a story for another time.

My hope is that you will be inspired by my post to get involved with something that interests you and will also benefit our environment or put a smile on someone’s face because that’s what it’s all about really. I also hope that if you are experiencing a lot of stress that my story made you feel less alone and put a smile on YOUR face. I’d also like to add while it is not always easy to accept, change is something that is a constant in life and we continually need to adapt to move forward and grow as an individual and community. We could learn a lot from the butterfly, they go through an incredible metamorphosis in their life and come out stronger and more beautiful than ever. There is always something new we can learn or experience. If there is a silver lining to this pandemic it hopefully will be this – we learn to find the joy in little things, appreciate others more, be less judgmental and more tolerant of each other and our differences, be open to new ideas and experiences and always show empathy, compassion, and kindness for others and our environment, as well as ourselves. Wishing you all health and happiness during this time!

Freshly baked banana bread

Cooking in Quarantine

If you’re like me, this quarantine has made things a little boring. The thing is though, it doesn’t have to be. With so many restaurants closed or having reduced hours, now is the best time to try your hand at new recipes! Another reason why you should cook some new stuff? The library has tons of great digital options to use.Fresh fruit and vegetables

If you’re looking for something to check out right away, you can’t go wrong with Freading, which has an amazing selection of cookbooks ready to download with no wait time. Just log in with your library card (or if you don’t have one, you can get an eCard) and download it to any compatible device (PC, phone, tablet). For some of the more popular titles, the Wisconsin’s Digital Library has you covered, although with some titles, you may have to wait a bit. Last but not least, there’s also Flipster, that has a plethora of cooking magazines like The Food Network magazine to make sure you never run out of ideas! Flipster not only has the most current issue, but also a ton of past issues to look at as well.

Just remember to be safe out there when you go to grab your ingredients. Make a list so you know what to get and don’t spend too much time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help to find things you’re not use to buying, just make sure to keep a safe distance. Many of the grocery stores offer pick up services online or delivery through a third-party company.

Let us know in the comments any cool recipes you’ve done while at home or favorite cookbooks for others to check out! Happy eating!

Seek to Understand

People have been grasping at ways to understand what is happening in the world right now. I have heard comparisons to everything from slavery to the Nazi Regime as well as many names for COVID-19. Some of you may be thinking “wow that’s extreme”, while others may be thinking that those are completely reasonable comparisons. Neither is technically wrong, and both of you are functioning within your own frame of reference of the world. As humans, we are constantly seeking to understand what is happening around us. When new things happen, we compare to what we know.

I am going to start by normalizing something. As humans, we all have biases. Bias tends to be formed out of not understanding what is different than us, and stereotyping with the little bit of information that we have about someone. We cannot escape that we have these biases. What we can do is seek to understand our biases better, and understand that everyone is at a different point in their journey of understanding their biases.

When people call COVID-19 the “China virus” the “Chinese flu” or something similar they may have started by trying to understand the virus and why all of this is happening. The problem is that even if they did not intend harm, by calling it the “China virus” we are adding to the bias towards individuals with Asian backgrounds. When we feed the bias, with repeating what we hear, jokes, and fearing others, we are acting on our bias. This becomes a slippery slope that can feed into discrimination and violent acts against others. So while someone may not have had bad intentions by calling COVID-19 the “China Virus”, it can feed into another’s bias, which is why people escalate to violence against people from Asian backgrounds. Fear definitely plays part in amplifying people’s biases at a time like this. Fear can cause people to do irrational things. Many people have tried to take control of their fear by attacking those of Asian descent. This all started with bias that remained unchecked.

As I stated before, it is normal to have bias, what we cannot normalize is hate speech and violent actions towards others. There are a few things that we can do to have control over this situation.

  • If you are interested in learning more about your biases you can take implicit bias tests by Harvard’s Project Implicit.
  • Do your part and control the spread of misinformation, call the virus COVID-19, and staying at home what it is, isolation/quarantine.
  • Remember, your feelings are valid, these times are very hard for some. However, recognize that the virus is no one’s “fault”. This may be difficult, but we are practicing an excellent skill for our mental health by simply radically accepting that this virus is what it is.

  • Travel, in books. Mark Twain stated “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” Emily Dickenson reminds us that when we cannot leave our homes, “To travel far, there is no better ship than a book.” If you are in a mindset that is ready to challenge your biases, read books about experiences from authors who are Asian. Read about the difficult injustices in history to see how radically different our current experiences are to slavery and the Nazi Regime.
  • Share what you have learned. Do not tolerate harmful messages being spread around you, and gently share what you have learned.
  • No one can learn well when they feel attacked, remember that people are functioning in the reality of what they currently know. It takes time to change that reality.

Remember, libraries provide access to information. Contact Information and Reference if you are interested in accessing more information about COVID-19, biases, or diverse materials.

If you have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, contact Libby, Community Resource Specialist, for resources to work through your experiences.

Virtual Library or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Digital

As our doors remain closed, staff at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library are busy at their homes in Chippewa, Bloomer, Eau Claire, Menomonie, and even Spooner, WI, creating online programming, answering reference questions, troubleshooting issues with digital media, connecting with local musicians for an upcoming video series to highlight the artists featured in our local music platform, Sawdust City Sounds, and creating video content for the library’s YouTube channel.

We have also been exploring ways to better serve the community, including improving our virtual desk services by adding a chat service, now staffed by Information & RChat Bubble for online chat serviceeference staff members Monday – Friday from 10-5, (look for the chat bubble on the lower right-hand corner of nearly every ecpubliclibrary.info page), seeking alternative ways for users to continue using some of the resources they’ve been using onsite in an offsite capacity, and exploring new options for learning and exploration for our cardholders.

Two services now available to our customers offsite are Ancestry Library Edition and the Foundation Directory Online. Both companies responded quickly to library closures by offering unprecedented offsite access to library customers. We are extremely grateful for their support and flexibility during these unprecedented times.

But what about new library services?

You may know Libby, and Tumblebooks, Freading, and Flipster, but do you recall Lynda? Because she is back!

Logo for Lynda.com learningIf you are an Eau Claire cardholder, you can now set-up a free account with Lynda.com and learn everything from overcoming cognitive bias to introductory WordPress skills to speed reading tips. Simply visit the Lynda.com portal through our library’s website, have your library card and PIN number handy, and create your account today. If you had an account through our library before, you will be prompted to enter the email address you used for your old account to retrieve any past course modules.

Welcome back, Lynda!

Stay tuned to our website  and our Facebook page for more news about our digital services offerings. If you ever need any assistance troubleshooting any of these services, our staff will be available to answer your questions Monday thru Friday, from 10-5 via our new chat service or via email at librarian@eauclaire.lib.org, and we are returning voicemails from a variety of numbers, so if you see a strange number from Stevens Point in your Caller ID and you have recently left a voice message by calling our Information & Reference staff at 715-839-5004, please pick up the phone. You’ll probably find one of us on the other end.

If you have any suggestions for other virtual services the library could provide while we are all staying safe at home, please let us know in the comments. We miss seeing you at the Information & Reference desk on the second floor and look forward to the day when we will be able to answer your questions in-person. Until then, stay safe, stay well, and keep reading, learning, and asking those questions!

Panoramic view of library's Dabble Box makerspace.

Play, Make, and Share – Safer at Home Edition

The mission of the Dabble Box Makerspace at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library is dedicated to inspiring a love of making and creating by providing access to equipment, materials, and space.

For those who have visited the Dabble Box, you will have seen these three words featured in our space: Play. Make. Share. Like other makerspaces around the country, the Dabble Box provides a space for community members to share creative equipment, supplies, and ideas (and I mean creative in the connotation that the Dabble Box is for creating). It is a resource that we at the library love to share with you, and, though we cannot currently gather in its dedicated space, we’re still dedicated to playing, making, and sharing our creative resources with you virtually.

Finished product of Pop Tab bracelet with orange ribbon. A Dabble Box monthly project. You may be familiar with the rotating projects featured each month in the Dabble Box. From DIY jewelry and seed pellets to homemade bath salts and website design, library staff have put together 49 project cards in the last few years to guide and inspire your dabbling. Did you know that all of those projects are available online in our How-To Library? Many of them only require supplies that you probably already have at home, like Pop Tab Bracelets which require pop tabs, ribbon, and tape, or Upcycled Book Baskets which only require an old book, a piece of cardboard, and time. Any supplies you might be missing can easily be added to your next outing for essential supplies (please don’t make a special trip).

Some other projects which require Dabble Box equipment to complete may be started at home. Design a 3D print on your home computer using free software like Tinkercad or get started on a design for a heat press mug. We will be open again someday.

Part of the joy inherent in a makerspace is seeing what others are making. If you’d like to share the results of your dabbling with us, we would love to see them! Share with us on Facebook or tell us about it in the comments below. Also, make sure to check out our Facebook page for activities and inspiration for people of all ages, including book recommendations, virtual story times, Dabble Box projects, and digital media offerings.

Stay safe, everyone and play, make, share.

2020 United States Census

The first census was taken in 1790, mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution. This requires that the country count its population once every 10 years. All people living in the United States are required by law to complete the census.

The results of this once a decade count provide a snapshot of our nation; it is used to adjust or redraw electoral districts, based on where populations have increased or decreased. For some, more importantly, the figures are used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars that the federal government spreads around to states and communities for projects and services. Many of these are critical programs such as hospitals, fire departments, infrastructure projects, and even items such as school lunch programs.

Businesses also rely on this information to determine where to open new stores or factories, offices, or even where to expand their operations. They want to know the best places to recruit employees, and even what products are services to provide in that area.

When you do respond, all data is anonymous. The numbers are used only to provide statistics. The US Census Bureau is required by law to keep all information confidential. By law this insures your answers cannot be used against you by any court, or government agency.

FAQ:

When may you participate?
By April 1, every home will receive an invite to respond. This will give you a 12-digit Census ID code. Use this code to complete the questionnaire online. However, you may also complete this without the 12-digit code.

Ways to respond?
For the first time ever, online is an option (2020census.gov). Phone and mail are also an option.

Who to count?
Everyone under your roof as of April 1, 2020. This includes children, friends, roommates, newborns, and anyone who is renting a space in your home.

Who is often missed?
People in shelters, health care facilities, homeless, and those in transit, such as in hotels, RV parks, and marinas.

The library does have a laptop upstairs next to the reference desk that customers may use to complete their questionnaire. As always, library staff are always willing to lend a hand to anyone if needed.

Last, if you do not complete your census data, someone eventually will absolutely, positively, for sure, come a’knocking on your door. PLEASE! Just do it! Having someone coming to your door costs money; the very same money that is used for schools, hospitals, etc, is now being used to follow up with everyone that does not fulfill their obligation.