Collecting People

I like people, old and young, short and tall, whomever. “My” people don’t necessarily have to be alive for me to like them.  In fact, some of the most interesting characters I’ve met haven’t even lived in my lifetime. Indexes galore exist to find your ancestors, many online, some not. My motto is “If everything were online, what fun would that be?” Field trips to cemeteries, courthouses, funeral homes, and of course, libraries are a nice way to spend some time. I’ve run across many sad stories in my search to add people to the Genealogical Research Society’s (GRSEC) Obituary/Cemetery database.  Morbid, you say? Maybe, but rewarding to think there might be someone out there looking for that person to add to their family tree. Is there scandal in the past? Sure, but it was 100 years ago, and it adds a touch of color to the research. The L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library has ways to help you with your research. In addition to the obituary database already mentioned, we have Ancestry Library Edition for use here at the library; we have Heritage Quest which you can use at home with your MORE library card, and many more. In addition, the GRSEC and the library sponsor Genealogy Open Labs in the Spring and Fall. Come check out what the library has to offer!


Get On Your Bike, Mate!

bicyclingMay is just about my favorite month of the year. The cold of a Wisconsin winter can seem like a distant memory and summer’s heat and humidity…at least on a daily basis…is still a few weeks away. Also, it just so happens that May is National Bike Month, which celebrates one of my favorite activities. Last summer, I joined a team of library staff and friends in the National Bike Challenge, which is a great (and free) way to log your miles and challenge yourself. I managed a bit over 600 miles, more than half of that on a three-wheel recumbent bike. I hope to better that number this summer.

I bike to work as often as I can, but when I’m not working and the weather cooperates, I’ll be out on one of the many bike trails the Chippewa Valley is becoming known for. The section of the Chippewa River State Trail between Caryville and Dunnville is especially scenic and, from there, taking the Red Cedar State Trail to Menomonie as it follows the Red Cedar River, is a treat for the senses. If getting off improved trails and getting a little dirty when you ride is more your thing, check out a recent article from VolumeOne magazine on “7 Great Mountain Bike Trails.” Want to get a little further out of town? Biking Wisconsin : 50 Great Road and Trail Rides by Steven Johnson is a book in the library’s collection which I highly recommend. Or just head north, to CAMBA, the Chequamagon Area Mountain Bike Association trails near Hayward and Cable, Wisconsin.

It’s May…the ice and snow are finally gone…now get on your bike, mate!

Finding Your Next Great Read

As a student, I often look forward to the end of any semester- a small break from required reading, but a break, nonetheless, for recreational reading.  If you’re like me and you do not have a never-ending TBR (to-be-read) pile of books, there are plenty of online services that can help you find your next great read.

NoveList Plus  is a terrific source for finding read-alikes based on book title or author.  Available to those with a MORE library card, NoveList Plus is an electronic subscription-based service provided to patrons for free.  On it, you can search for books based on what appeals to you as a reader, such as genre, storyline, writing style, and much more.  In addition, you can search for audiobooks and book series.

Pinterest can be another good site when looking for books to read.  The library’s own Pinterest Page has boards for new fiction, new nonfiction, mystery, romance, science fiction/fantasybooks, and even for “What to read?”  With this interactive site, you can simply pin books that appeal to you and create your own boards for what you want to read next.

Goodreads and LibraryThing  are two others sources you can use to discover new books to read.  On Goodreads, you can read and rate your own books, or compile your own want-to-read book lists.  It is a bit more social in the sense that you can befriend others on the site, comment on what they have read, or even see how they have rated and reviewed their own books.  LibraryThing lets you catalog your own books (up to 200 for free) and create tags for them.  In this way, you can see other user “libraries” and find books for yourself based on tags that jump out at you, such as historical fiction, WWII, or memoir.

Also, make sure to keep an eye out for our new online readers’ advisory service that will make its grand debut on the library’s website this June!

New Adult Fiction

Crossover Into New Adult Fiction!

“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking” – Haruki Murakami

This may come as a surprise to many people, but since I started reading Young Adult literature in high school, I’ve never truly crossed over to reading Adult fiction in my early 20’s. After my failed attempts to dive into the Adult fiction, I came to the conclusion that my heart must just lie with Young Adult literature. And why not? Young adult literature has a lot to offer adult readers: exciting, action-packed and fast-paced plot lines; amazing writers; an escape from adult responsibilities by reliving your youth; and of course, vampire romance stories!

If you’d like to delve deeper into the world of young adult novels, the following website offers a great place to start: However, if you are in the same boat as I am and don’t know where to start in Adult fiction, then the category of “New Adult fiction” may be for you! New Adult fiction is the hot new genre in the book world. USA Today columnist, Deirdre Donahue, described it as “mix the high-octane emotions of youth with the freedom of leaving home and you’ve brewed up a potent new book category.” The themes that you will find in these novels will be a mixture of young adult themes (identity, sexuality, race, addictions, bullying, family problems) and issues facing adults ages 18-25 like leaving home for the first time, facing military deployment, college life, and marriage.

You can find a list of New Adult fiction books at the following website:
Another great list to look at is the Alex Award winners. These novels were written for adults but have special appeal to Young Adults:
Some New Adult titles can be found in the MORE catalog: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie Maguire; Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell; and The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski.



The Incredible Edible Luffa

Every February I try to satisfy my longing for spring by browsing the seed packet racks at local stores. Last year I came across this gem: Luffa gourd. Huh? In the 30 seconds of thought I’d given to luffa sponges over the course of my life, I had assumed that if it was a sponge it must be from the sea. Interesting. I flipped the packet over to read the planting information, and received my second shock of the day. The packet read, “Surprisingly tasty when eaten young.” Sold!

I’ll spare you the suspense; young luffa looks a lot like a ribbed cucumber. Peeled and eaten raw, it tastes a lot like one, too. Considering that at maturity a luffa forms a tough, fibrous mass that you can use to scrub stubborn gunk off of pots and pans, I would say that the fact it’s edible at all is surprising. I recently learned it’s a popular ingredient in China, Vietnam, and other Asian countries, so this year I intend to harvest a few more to make soup or stir-fry.


Harvested Luffa Sponges

I found that the best part of growing luffa was the sponge harvest. Imagine a luxuriantly climbing vine with tons of zuchinni-sized, brownish-green, wrinkly gourds on it. Wearing gloves you can wash, you bang each gourd on the ground until it cracks, then peel it. With the right crowd, this is a great party game! Shake out as many seeds as you can, then rinse in water and repeat until the fiber is clean. Hang to dry, and presto! Sponges from the garden.

One of the best things about hobby gardening is that it’s full of surprises. Of course the MORE catalog has a ton of useful information on gardening. I’m very excited that L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library is now also host for the Eau Claire Grows Community Seed Library! You can check out seeds for free, and enjoy some gardening goodness yourself. Find out how the program works here.

Luffa isn’t one of the seeds in the library, but I for one intend to borrow several different varieties of heirloom seeds. I know I’ll be surprised again, as I am every year, by how tasty fresh-picked can be.

Planning your Perfect Summer Vacation

One of the highlights in my family’s year is our summer vacation. We have always done something in the summer since our boys have been babies, sometimes a simple camping trip for a weekend or a week up north in a cabin, but some years we branch out a bit and plan something bigger. We have taken several big road trips, toured many national parks and visited Disney World. This year we are headed to the Redwood National Forest, and I am already counting the days.

If you are anredwoodsything like me the planning of the trip is almost as fun as the trip itself. Especially during these long, dreary, cold winters and wet, cold springs. I use a variety of things to plan our family trips including sending for brochures and maps and checking out many websites. However, I also always use library resources. I request the most recent travel books for our destination and pour over every detail. Travel guides always are available in book format, but I have noticed over the last year that you can also get the most recent editions through Overdrive as well.  I think this will be useful as we head out for California as I can put it on my iPad and not have to lug a big travel book around. Some of you may not know that we also carry travel brochures and maps from various parts of the U.S., many donated from patrons after their own trips. These are available to check out as brochures to help you with your own planning.

Wherever you are headed in the next year be sure to use the library as part of your planning process and Bon Voyage!

Free Movies!

Our library’s collection of DVD’s is hugely popular with our patrons, offering thousands upon thousands of titles that are checked out again and again. The option to checkout and view movies free of charge is another tremendous value we offer (Well, so long as you return them on time!).  L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library has a proud history of being the very first place in Eau Claire where you could check out VHS movies when “video store rentals” were still quite a new concept. Now with streaming options like YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix, there are even more ways to view films online. I’ve always enjoyed watching movies, and being a fan of the Film Noir genre led me to discover the website Open Culture and its promise of “60 Free Film Noir Movies.” They had me at free.

Open Culture was founded in 2006 as a website that “brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community“. In addition to providing access to over 700 movies, the site offers 550 audiobooks, 1,100 online courses, 300 language Open Culturelearning courses, over 1000 MOOC’s, 200 textbooks, and 700 eBooks. Their basic mission is to cultivate and curate these collections of content and ensure their users have free access 24/7. Actually, their mission is very similar to that of the public library: to collect, curate, and provide access to materials free of charge to the public. Offering remote access to these materials online is also an increasing focus for libraries. Organizations like Open Culture provide us an inspiring example.

Open Culture has their movies organized into collections like Comedy & Drama; Film Noir; Horror & Hitchcock; Westerns; Silent Films; Documentaries, and Animation. They also have special collections of Oscar Winning Movies, films by Andrei Tarkovsky and Charlie Chaplin films. Closer inspection of their offerings reveals that these aren’t solely public domain films from decades ago. There are a variety of interesting recent short films, animations, and documentaries. I was pleased to see Richard Linklater’s Gen-X comedy Slacker, which I’ve been meaning to re-watch.

So enjoy these FREE Open Culture movies and let us know what you discover.  You’re also encouraged to use the MORE Online Catalog’s New DVDs MORE Quick List to see what’s been recently added to our collection of DVD’s.  We’re always happy to help you search for a film you’ve been hoping to screen too. Just let us know what you’d like to watch next!


Will it Waffle?

We’re always helping people looking for information on canning and cooking, including our own staff. We have tailgate parties and potlucks here in the staff lounge. Dieting is NOT on the menu at this time. Everywhere I have worked, librarians have been great cooks, and L.E. Phillips is not the exception.

I like to read cookbooks and try recipes I have never tried before.  There is practical advantage to cooking for other library staff. That way, if it is good, I won’t eat it all myself, or if it is not so good, I will have others to help me eat it. I consider this a win-win.

We have some great cookbooks in our collection; in fact, we have one of the largest cookbook collections in our consortium.

One of my favorites is;
Will it waffle? : 53 unexpected and irresistible recipes to make in a waffle  iron by Daniel Shumski.

As a librarian I need to give you the call number as well: “641.3  Sh928w” in the Non-Fiction area. I love waffles, I have two waffle irons, one for regular waffles and one for Belgian waffles. The idea of using a waffle iron for other items intrigued me. Cookies and cakes? Yum!  I enjoyed the chocolate chip cookie recipe as I love cookies right out of the oven.  Daniel Shumski also has a blog at  with other waffle ideas and waffle wisdom.

Sometimes a person just needs a waffle.