Check Out Our Anti-Racist Resource Page

The concept of “anti-racism” has rested near the center of national discussion over the past three months as significant protests and demonstrations have sprawled across the country, sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. We’ve entered one of this country’s most divisive periods, greatly intensified by a global pandemic and an upcoming presidential election. This isn’t the only time our country has faced such personal and cultural divisions, but it’s a stark reminder of how much work we’ve left undone to create true racial equality.

As a predominantly white community, these past few months have caused many in Eau Claire to reexamine the concept racism, as well as the role it plays in their lives. More importantly, the concept of anti-racism has gained significant traction. New to many of us, the term “anti-racism” refers to an active and engaged mindset designed to work against systemic racism in our everyday lives and within our trusted institutions. That’s a simplified way to put things, but it represents a significant shift in how we approach and work for racial equality. It’s not enough to acknowledge racism. You must fight it.

In this spirit, the library has created a webpage filled with resources focused on the concept of anti-racism. While we know you can’t end massive societal problems with book lists alone, reading and education are a crucial part of the puzzle. It’s the library’s mission to promote lifelong learning and support open access to diverse materials and resources enhancing the quality of life in this community. This means addressing the issues of racism and inequity through our services.

So on our Anti-Racism Resources page, you’ll find anti-racist book suggestions (fiction and nonfiction), helpful websites, and important multimedia organized by topic and age. We’ve also included info on community organizations, upcoming library events, and more. Please check it out and see what you think.

 

 

Quote: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare."~Audre Lorde

Self-Care as Radical Action

I see you. You are tired. You do not see an end to the exhaustion. You are feeling and doing everything you can to make it from one day to the next. You are fighting battles that some do not see. You are giving and giving and feel like you might break any day now.

I see you.

This is not a fluffy and cute blog post about how you “should” do this or that to take care of yourself. Nope. Today is a radical call to action. Today you are not choosing “me time”, but simply choosing yourself. Here are some things that you can do to radically accept yourself as deserving and needing of self-care:

  • Say no! Stop saying yes or maybe when you really mean, or really need to be saying no.Quote: "Don't say yes to others if it means saying no to your wellness"
  • Savor your actions. Take deep breaths. Take a little longer shower. Slow down and enjoy your meals instead of rushing to take care of others. Savor it, and be present.
  • Stop apologizing so much! Obviously we need to be nice to others, but don’t apologize for taking time for yourself! Don’t apologize for your existence. Don’t apologize for taking up space. Be here, and fill the room with your presence.
  • Accept things as they are. Stop swimming upstream. Blow up your metaphorical inner tube, grab your favorite beverage, and ride out what is happening. Radical acceptance is allowing ourselves to accept the things that we cannot change and making peace with that.
  • Forgive. Not for other people’s benefit, but because you deserve to not carry that weight around. Choose love over fear, anger, and sadness.
  • End the war within yourself. Are you constantly struggling with thoughts that are blaming or mean towards yourself? Try this exercise: draw the strong warrior that is within you. Illustrate the epic scene of the inner you attacking and ending the war with the blaming and mean thoughts that are always trying to beat you up. Alternatively, you could write a short story about yourself taking control of your personal self-talk. At a minimum, fight back, you deserve to be kind to yourself.
  • Celebrate the little accomplishments. Cross those items proudly off your to-do list. Feeling unaccomplished? Put items on your to-do list that you have already accomplished then happily appreciate that moment and cross those items off of your list.
  • Put yourself on your to-do list every day. For everyone, this looks different. Maybe it is meditation, exercise, yoga, a bubble bath, doing meal prep for the week, time with a book, etc. Doing these actions once does not make us well, practicing them daily enhances our wellbeing.
  • Love yourself and accept the complexities that make you unique. Choose this empowering narrative rather than attacking yourself for who you are.
  • Make conscious choices. We rarely have to make fast decisions so slow down. Others can wait while we get the best understanding of what we need for ourselves.

Bottom line: Preserve yourself, make choices that take care of your mind and body, and make these choices ongoing and sustainable. Choose this act of liberation, and stop putting yourself last.

Friday, the Australian Shepherd Puppy

Puppy Love

It has been twenty-three weeks (yes, I am counting) since the state’s initial stay-at-home order. By day three, I wanted a puppy.

Now I know what you are thinking: “Ah, yes, yet another pandemic puppy,” and maybe you are right. But what better way to get through this pandemic than to bring home a lovable furball who is (mostly) oblivious to the high-stress environment surrounding her. Another creature to bring joy to our family; something to focus on other than the latest news and our lack of normalcy. And I’m not the only one! Four other staff members at LEPMPL have adopted puppies this summer!

In celebration of all these new library pups, here are some top picks from our catalog featuring some fabulous canines.

  1. Dog Man: Grime and Punishment by Dav Pilkey (Author, Illustrator) From the creator of “Captain Underpants” comes #9 in the “Dog Man” series, release date September 1, 2020, so place your hold today! What type of dog is dog man? A hound.
  2. Think Like a Dog (DVD) Oliver is a middle-school tech prodigy whose science fair experiment has a furry twist that gives him a telepathic connection to his dog, Henry. If you are wondering Cover Art of Where the Red Fern Growswhat kind of dog Henry is, he is a Labradoodle.
  3. Muzzled by David Rosenfelt Reluctant lawyer Andy Carpenter and his beloved golden retriever are back on the case in this 2020 release about a missing owner.
  4. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls A list of titles featuring dogs would be incomplete without this classic tale of a young boy and his adventures in the Ozarks with two redbone hounds.
  5. The Call of the Wild (DVD) If you want to see Harrison Ford take on the role of Jack London’s John Thornton, the final owner of Buck, a Saint Bernard/Scotch Collie mix, check out this 2020 title.

If your household has recently been blessed, (or the other, depending upon how sleep-deprived you are right now), and you are looking for some training guidelines, wondering why your puppy seems to have a witching hour at 7 p.m. every evening, or need some advice on crate training, check out this list of puppy training titles available in our system.

Happy training and enjoy those puppy snuggles!

Time Warp

Time is weird. Let’s just acknowledge that.

We experience the passing of time in odd and inconsistent ways and it shows in the way we describe it. Time flies, it crawls, it slips by, it stands still. Some months always seem to drag on (February, I’m looking at you) while others are gone in the blink of an eye (July, where’d you go?). Time seems to move slower when we’re stressed, bored, or sad and faster when we’re busy or happy. After all, time flies when you’re having fun and a watched pot never boils.

Here in 2020, time is even weirder than normal. Most of the routines, events, and traditions we use to mark time are either altered or completely gone (except bills, those are still like clockwork). The added stress combined with often monotonous days makes time slow and lethargic, but when we look back there are few stand-out events to show that time really is passing. As a result, most of us have noticed that our sense of time is a bit wonky. I sometimes struggle to remember not just the day of the week, but the month as well.

Maybe it’s the weird time dilation of this year (and maybe it’s the fact that I recently finished binging the second season of The Umbrella Academy), but I’ve recently gotten (back) into time travel fiction.

I was nine years old when I first encountered time travel in a book – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry and Hermione only travel a few hours back in time, but Merlin’s beard do they change a lot (somehow without actually changing anything at all). It was complex and mind-bending and I fell in love immediately.

Since then, I’ve read and watched all kinds of time travel books, movies, and shows. From classics like H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, to the quirky long-running BBC show Doctor Who, to blockbusters like Avengers: Endgame, there are so many different theories on what time travel would look like if it were actually possible.

Time travel has a lot of appeal. Since it’s not possible (that we know of), time travel stories are all about speculation. What do we think the world will be like in the future? What would the world be like now if we could change the past? What would the past look like from a modern perspective? Time travel offers not only an escape from our current reality but a way to imagine our reality differently or to view it in a different light.

So if you’re reminiscing about how things were last summer or worrying about how things will be in the future, I recommend escaping into a time travel story for a while. The world will still be here when you get back.

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.

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.