Reflections on Generosity During Times of Crisis

This last Saturday marks 20 years since the events of September 11th, 2001. So many facets of modern life changed as a result of 9/11 that it is difficult for many people to recall a world before the attacks took place. There are many lessons to be taken from 9/11, among the most important lessons is the way that people came together to care for one another after the attacks happened. People reacted with acts of generosity to help heal and rebuild after the collective trauma that Americans experienced. One of my earliest memories is going to a local Red Cross blood drive on 9/11 with my dad so that he could donate blood to help victims of the attacks. People from all over the country, like my dad, found any way that they could to support those directly impacted on 9/11.

Today we are witnessing the repercussions of a 20-year long war overseas and the impact it has had on people living in Afghanistan and the United States. Recently, refugees from Afghanistan have moved to Fort McCoy and our community has reacted with the kind of generosity that reflects the generosity that helped the United States heal after 9/11. The L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library began a toy donation drive for refugee children living at Fort McCoy. Since the toy drive began, the library has received an overwhelming amount of donations! Offices and conference rooms at the library are overflowing with hundreds of toys and books that will help children and families have the opportunity to heal through play.

When I think of events like 9/11 there is a quote from Mr. Rogers that resonates with myself and many who have grown up with Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things on the news, my mother would say to me, ‘look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” – Fred Rogers

Thank you to all who have been the helpers over the last 20 years. Whether you are a veteran, first responder, medical professional, or just donating toys to bring a smile to a child’s face you are the helpers that we all need to build a brighter future.

Lauren Pomush, UWEC Social Work Student
Social Work Intern, L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Summer/Fall 2021

Book Links: Linking You to Your Next Great Read

Without a doubt, one of the best parts of my job is linking customers to their next great read. There are a number of ways that I make book suggestions. I help readers in person at Information & Reference, I share my recent favorites at the monthly BYO Book Club, I create Personalized Book Bundles based on readers’ interests, and I contribute to the Book Links genre guides.

The library has offered Book Link brochures in the past but they recently went through a 21st-century makeover. You can now find them on our website! And one of the best parts? They link you directly to the MORE Catalog.

Browse a favorite genre or check out a new topic to broaden your reading horizons by visiting


The Summer the Librarians Went Outside

A fictional story based on true events

By Stephanie


It was a beautiful summer day.

The sun shone, the birds chirped, the flowers bloomed, and a light breeze rustled the leaves on the trees.

In the park, there were children playing, people and their dogs walking, Frisbees soaring, and picnics spread out on park tables.

Everyone longed to be outside.

Including the librarians.

In the library, it was cool and quiet. It was the perfect place to take a break and get a book to read before going back out into the sunshine.

But the librarians were stuck inside all day.

One librarian kept looking out the window, watching the wonderful day pass by, and sighing wistfully.

“I wish we could take the library outside!”

Then the librarian paused and asked, “Why can’t we take the library outside?”

“What if the books get dirty?” cried a librarian in shock.

“Well, we wouldn’t just put them on the ground.”

“What if it rains and the books get wet?” another librarian wailed in despair.

“We’ll check the weather before we go out.”

There were more objections, of course.

“How will we get all of our books outside?”

“Where will we take the books?”

“What if it gets too hot? Or too cold?”

“People don’t bring their library cards outside, how will they check out books?”

But the first librarian thought of solutions for everything, and soon the other librarians got excited about the idea.

“I ride my bike to work, maybe we could bike to the park?”

“Let’s bring a big umbrella for shade!”

“We could bring activities!”

“We could give out library cards!”

The librarians came up with a plan on that glorious summer day. They got bicycles, and helmets, and a special trailer, and a big umbrella for shade. They packed up a bunch of books, and a few activities, and some library cards.

They took their bicycles and books to parks, to farmer’s markets, to concerts, and to festivals. They checked out books, and gave out library cards, and did activities, just like they did at the library.

At first, people were confused when they saw the librarians outside. Libraries had always belonged inside before!

But they checked out books, and played games, and made crafts, and soon they got used to seeing the librarians outside the library.

The traveling outdoor library was a success! And for the rest of that summer, and every summer after, if the weather was nice, the librarians packed up their books and joined in the fun outside.

The End

*There’s still time to catch the BookBike this summer!

Find the BookBike and Dabble Box from 9 a.m. to noon on Mondays at Owen Park and on Wednesdays at Carson Park through the end of August.

In September, find us at Owen Park on Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon, with storytime at 10 a.m.

The BookBike will also be at the Downtown Farmer’s Market in Phoenix Park from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays through at least the end of September.

You can find the most up-to-date schedule on our website at

Let’s Get Ready to Roleplay!!!

So, what is roleplaying all about? We have all found ourselves in some sort of roleplay scenario at some point in our lives, whether it’s acting out a customer interaction at work with your coworkers, pretending to be in a certain role while playing house as a kid, or while playing roleplaying games of the tabletop or videogame variety. Maybe you’re familiar with tabletop roleplaying games already, but for those who are not aware, it’s a game of imagination and calculation where a gamemaster, the storyteller/referee/moderator, describes the setting and story as it unfolds while considering each of the players’ characters and how they are interacting with the world around them. The most famous of these is D&D, or Dungeons & Dragons. It’s currently on D&D 5th Edition commonly referred to simply as 5E. Thanks to the popularity of the Netflix show, Stranger Things, there has been a resurgence of interest in the genre. And, if you think D&D is for the nerds, I dare you to say that to the face of Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson or Vin Diesel. You could also incur the witty wrath of the likes of Anderson Cooper, Stephen Colbert, or Joseph Gordon-Levitt who have all credited D&D with being an influential part of their lives. If you’ve never played a tabletop roleplaying game or if you’re a nostalgic veteran looking to get back into it, here are some resources to get you started.

Though it’s referred to as a “tabletop” roleplaying game, you are not limited to sitting at a table with close friends to play. The onset of technology since the days of pen & paper roleplaying, a synonymous name for the genre, has made it possible to use smart devices and computers to replace the need for the pens, paper, and even dice. That means a group can sit around a campfire with their phones or tablets in hand and still participate. You can also connect with long-distance friends and family, or even some random people, and play a game online. Here’s how…

  • Roll20 – Roll20 is arguably the most popular web-based resource for tabletop roleplaying. It contains all of the tools you need to play including GM resources, maps, character sheets, dice rolling, and more. It also has content for hundreds, yes hundreds, of different roleplay systems, including the ever-popular D&D 5E. There are pay-to-use features but offers plenty of free content to appease the average player.
  • Astral – A recent competitor to Roll20, Astral offers similar web-based features with a little more polish and pizazz, but lacks in the content variety. Like Roll20, it hides some of its content behind a paywall but functions well in its free state.
  • D&D Beyond – If you’re planning on doing 5E specifically, you can use D&D Beyond to maintain your character sheets. It has a wonderful interface with automated features making the maintenance of your character a little less rigorous.
  • Discord – Discord is a popular chat and VoIP software that many gamers use to communicate. It offers live vocal interaction for communication while playing as well as chat interfaces for sharing information that is retained indefinitely.
  • Zoom – If COVID brought us anything great, it would be the popularity of video conferencing software like Zoom. Zoom may be used to make the interactions in tabletop roleplaying more personable or to share that amazing costume you assembled for your character. 
  • DriveThru RPG – An incredible catalog of content for many tabletop roleplaying systems, DriveThru RPG offers cost-effective content, frequent sales, and even some free material for anyone looking to delve into the world of tabletop roleplay.
  • RPG Table Finder – If you’re looking for people to play with, check out RPG Table Finder. It’s a website dedicated to posting as either players or GMs who are looking to play games.
  • RPG Geek – RPG Geek is an informative website on tabletop roleplaying games that connects a community of players and GMs to many resources and provides forums for communication and even a market for buying, selling, and trading tabletop roleplaying resources.

Though we have a limited selection on the MORE catalog, there are some libraries that are carrying various books for a few popular tabletop roleplaying systems including D&D 5E, Pathfinder, and various RPG Kits from the Cadott Community Library. For GMs who are looking for some help, Table Fables books are a great resource that offers various randomization tables for just about anything you could think of for a fantasy-themed roleplaying system. If you want to take a gander at the general roleplaying content in the MORE catalog, you should try the call number 793.93. There are a few other materials included such as Minecraft, but most of the books are tabletop roleplaying related.

Getting the Most Out of Your Summer

A fun fact about the month of June: it has the longest days out of any month of the year. We can consider ourselves lucky to have more daylight when enjoying June’s warm weather, weddings, and festivals. While the month may be coming to an end, it’s also technically the official start (June 20th) of a promising Wisconsin summer!

This year, it should be extra special now that we are witnessing the rebirth of our restaurants, events, and businesses once again. While things aren’t quite 100% just yet, there is still an immense amount of progress to celebrate.

For families:

Farmers markets, playtimes, and museums are safely welcoming back Eau Claire’s smiling faces. Of course, the library’s doors are open once again as well, along with the beautiful book bike visiting your favorite parks and events!

For friends:

Music festivals like the Cadott Rock Fest, Sounds Like Summer Concert Series, and food trucks galore are making appearances across the valley. Or can we suggest your own cookout, with our selection of grilling/picnicking/campout cookbooks?

For adults:

Wisconsin’s incredible wineries, supper clubs, and breweries are buzzing with new business and creative cocktails! If you’re trying to get the most out of the warm weather, many of these locations have outside seating and live music as well. I personally will be found sipping cocktails made by the wonderful staff at Fall Creek’s Connells Club 12!

With all this excitement, you may also be feeling a bit overwhelmed or overstimulated. While I’m looking forward to my favorite summer comeback events, COVID has taught me to become quite the introvert… and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! When I think back on my favorite summer memories, they often don’t include any expensive weekend trips or fancy vacations, but rather, small moments. For example, the spontaneous excitement of discovering some new secret spot in my hometown while on a casual bike ride. You can do this yourself, with our collection of bike trail books or maps!  I’ve also got a soft spot for wasting away the afternoon by laying in my yard, listening to oldies on my trusty cassette Walkman. While the public library may have outgrown cassettes, we do have an extensive music collection both digitally and on physical CD. We offer access to almost all genres of music, and by some incredible local artists as well. In fact, you can even create some of your own music with our selection of instruments to check out. The possibilities are endless!

My challenge for you this summer is to take what you’ve learned, and how you’ve grown in the past year or so, and use it to have your best summer yet.

Untouched by COVID-19

I really do feel a bit guilty. The past several months have been such a terror for so much of the world, and our country. Now India is again in a terrible situation.

With 163 plus million cases worldwide, and 3.38 plus millions of deaths, hundreds of millions out of work, millions of businesses closed, school children way behind, and so much of life missed. Not being able to see loved ones in nursing homes? Not being able to be with them on their deathbed? These are just unimaginable to me.

So why do I feel guilty? Because this terrible disease that has touched so many has not really touched me personally. My wife and I were blessed that we know of not a single person hospitalized, nor died, from COVID-19. It did not affect me financially, as my wife’s job is secure, and my library position allowed me to work from home while closed. Shoot, I even got out of working nights and weekends!

Raising children is hard enough. Now add schools closing, most after-school sports and activities canceled, virtual classes, homeschooling, mask mandates, and just the fear of it all had to be terrible for students. For you parents that got your kids through this, and keeping your sanity, bless your hearts. I salute you all!

But certainly good news the past few months. Vaccinations are way up, cases and deaths are way down. Things in the United States are opening once again, including our wonderful library. For those who do not know this, our temporary location is on the south side of Eau Claire, where we took over half of the United Health Care building at 2725 Mall Drive. For the first time in over a year, we are welcoming customers without an appointment.

As of now, the hours are a bit different. Mondays and Wednesdays, 4 to 8 p.m.  Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and once again Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We are not open Sundays during the summer months. Our library management team took months preparing to move, finding another location, and taking the necessary steps to move the entire collection of books, DVDs, CDs, and more. I missed our regular customers, and am eager to see you all again.

So come see us! Without a mask if you are fully vaccinated, and feel safe to do so. The pictures tell you we look like a real library!

Questions? Please call the Reference Team at 715-839-5004, email us at Hope to see you soon!

Banner reads Neurodiversity with a rainbow colored infinity symbol

April is Autism Acceptance Month!

April is Autism Acceptance Month!

Did you know that in 1970, the Autism Society began a nationwide effort to promote autism awareness to assure that all people affected by autism are able to achieve the highest quality of life possible? Then, a few years later in 1972 the Autism Society launched the first annual National Autistic Children’s week which eventually turned into Autism Acceptance Month (AAM). Now, April is officially Autism Acceptance Month! (previously known as Autism Awareness Month)

Autism is a developmental condition that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) may experience:

  • Too much or too little sensitivity to sensory stimulation
  • Obsessive repetitive routines and anxiety when change occurs
  • Difficulties with organizing, sequencing and prioritizing things
  • Intense responses to overwhelming situations
  • Difficulties in communication and social interactions

Books are essential to everybody, but I want to emphasize how they are especially indispensable to children; specifically, to children who have been diagnosed with ASD. Books teach children vital ways to communicate, make sense of their lives and simply are a source of security and reassurance. For children with ASD, books can often open doors to the world by acting as a navigational guide to complex and confusing social situations. By reading about characters and having a window into their lives, children are able to gain a better understanding that other people have different viewpoints from them, and that it’s okay to have different feelings and ideas than those around you. New and unfamiliar situations can often be very challenging for individuals with ASD. Reading stories can help prepare them for new experiences while also providing effective coping strategies. Books also provide illustrious support for children in other ways too. For example, picture books with lots of repetition and rhythms can encourage children to build and practice language skills. Furthermore, books can also boost the connection between a parent and child when the parent reads out loud with non-fiction books that help bolster a child’s specific interest.

Given the overall broad notion of what Autism truly is as well as the challenges that individuals who have an Autism diagnosis face, it can sometimes be difficult to take the correct steps in making a library environment as welcoming as possible. For example, making it clear what services the library offers by providing adequate signage is something that many libraries throughout the country overlook. Libraries tend to fall into a “one-size fits all” trap, especially when serving a large and diverse group of library patrons. Furthermore, library staff who do not know what to expect from autistic users will often misinterpret behavior such as a meltdown as “dangerous” behavior that requires some sort of disciplinary action.

So what can we do to ensure that library patrons who have an ASD diagnosis are given the best possible service and are given a reason to keep returning to the library? For most people (both with Autism or without), challenges to accessing the library include transportation, conflict with work hours, childcare commitments and/or other obstacles. Once they reach the library itself, navigating the collection and other services offered become pretty straightforward; especially when a library staff is able to point them in the right direction; however, for individuals with Autism and their families, making it into the library and being able to navigate their way inside is not enough to ensure a positive and productive experience. The Illinois Library Association makes the following recommendations to make the library environment more accessible and welcoming for members of the Autistic community.

  • Address any issues related to noise and lighting in a timely matter
  • Include a map or signage that is color-coded or includes pictures of the different locations of the library
  • Provide sensory-related items for patrons to use, such as noise-cancelling headphones, small fidgets, weighted lap pads or small blankets with a variety of different fabrics
  • To assist patrons who struggle with executive functioning, providing reminders such as calendars, timers and checklists can help them stay on task and reach a goal

Although there is still a significant amount of work to be done in raising awareness about Autism and ensuring that libraries completely meet the needs of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as their families, there has already been notable progress already made in library systems throughout the country.

Here at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library we have many accessible resources available that are beneficial to all patrons, no matter your ability. For instance, you might have heard that the library is moving locations! This week the library is transitioning to its temporary location at 2725 Mall Drive while the main facility at 400 Eau Claire Street undergoes some remodeling and expansion allowing for more space within the library. Furthermore, there are a variety of resources that Youth Services offers to aid children in their learning such as online story times ( as well as a collection of online educational games ( In addition, library customers are also able to check-out sensory kits that allows children to explore their world through senses.

L.E. Phillips also has different digital services that patrons are able to access at their convenience. By having a greater access to digital media, individuals who may have a hard time making it to the library will have greater access to the library’s collections.

Tumble Books (E-books for children)

Wisconsin Digital Library (Audiobooks, E-books, Graphic Novels, Videos)

Freading (Graphic Novels, travel guides, non-fiction E-books) • Sawdust City Sounds (Music)

Freegal (Music and unlimited video streaming) • Hoopla (Audiobooks, E-books, graphic novels, music, videos)

Flipster (Magazines)

We can’t stop there though, it’s just a start to making our library as inclusive as possible. Raising awareness about what ASD is and is not, the challenges that individuals with ASD face while using libraries, and how libraries can adapt to meet the specific needs of their users with ASD are the first steps to making libraries as autism-friendly as possible.

Banner Reads Autism Acceptance Month


Maggie Slater, UWEC Social Work Student

Social Work Intern, L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Spring 2021

National Library Week, April 4 – 10

This week is National Library Week. It is a time to celebrate all the wonderful things our local library does for our community. As we look back on the last 12 months, the staff of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library has done amazing things to keep the community engaged in using the library.

Each day over the last year I have had the opportunity to watch the library staff develop new and innovative ways to keep library services available to the public. Youth Services took storytime to Facebook, the Reference staff has worked with the public to get tax forms through the library’s Park and Pick Up system, the Circulation staff has mastered Park and Pick Up so that the public can still enjoy reading books at home, and Home Delivery has worked with its customers to make sure those that rely on that service are still able to receive library materials, along with many other things.

So I encourage the community to thank the staff of the library for all their dedication to this community during this time. Share with the staff what your favorite resource is at the library, or what you love the most about the library. We truly have an amazing library and staff.

Stacy Yearous
Program and Development Coordinator
Friends of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library

Love to Read? NoveList Plus Is for You!

NoveList Plus logo

Do you love to read? Have you read everything by your favorite author? Do you like to explore new reading avenues? Did you answer “yes!” to one or more of these questions? Then NoveList Plus is for you!

NoveList Plus connects readers to their next book by making recommendations for what to read next. One of the most popular elements is read-alikes. This feature suggests titles that are “just like” other titles. If you’ve just finished a great book, use NoveList Plus to find great read-alikes. It is your one-stop guide to great reading. You can also browse by genre and appeal. Check out the User Guide for NoveList Plus for help getting started.

Are you a parent or teacher? Not only can you find great books for yourself, but help your kids find the right books for them. You can search by age, reading level, grade, and more.

Are you part of a book group? Find useful resources such as book discussion guides and tips on how to re-energize a long-term book club. Find these resources at the top of the page:


Photo depicts joggers feet in motion

Be Active Wisconsin

With fake spring upon, there’s no better time than to get out and get some exercise (or you could do it inside as well). Maybe you need a little bit more motivation, how about supporting charity and Eau Claire in the state-wide competition, “Be Active” Wisconsin. Although it started on the 1st of the month, you have until the 14th to register, and any active hours after the 1st still count evenWoman jogging while listening to music if you haven’t registered.

To register, go here and make an account. There’s a $10 fee per person, but it comes with a cool t-shirt and all additional proceeds support youth scholarship funds! Definitely check out the website for more information on how to track your minutes!

So you’ve signed up and are ready to get active, sounds great! But what if I told you the library could actually keep you entertained while you’re getting your fit on? Exercise your mind with your body by listening to an audiobook while walking/jogging/biking through your phone using either the Libby by Overdrive or Hoopla app. You could also listen to some bangers from local music artists by downloading or streaming songs from Sawdust City Sounds! Or maybe Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way” will give you that extra pep in your step, just check out Freegal for that and many more free music downloads!