Cataloging Identity

People don’t fall into neat little categories, but as we try to communicate to each other who we are, we tend to identify ourselves with labels. Nerd, jock, rebel. Mom, uncle, brother. Accountant, mechanic, librarian.

But labels never stay so simple. We start adding qualifiers: computer nerd, fun uncle, children’s librarian. We don’t stick with just one label per person; someone can be a computer nerd, a fun uncle, and a children’s librarian.

This is similar to how libraries catalog books. For example, Kristin Hannah’s new book, The Four Winds, is fiction. It is also cataloged as historical fiction and domestic fiction. We don’t stop there, though; our library catalog also includes subject tags. The Four Winds has 13 subject tags, including “Dust Bowl Era,” “Women Farmers,” “American Dream,” “Texas,” and “California.”

All of these descriptions are helpful because, with just a few carefully chosen words, potential readers have an idea of what a book is about. Of course, reading the synopsis will give you more detailed information. And the only way to truly know what the book contains is to actually read the book.

The same holds true for people. You’ve already formed a basic impression of what a computer nerd, fun uncle, children’s librarian is like. To get a better idea, you could have a conversation with them. But to truly know the nerdy, fun librarian, you’d have to get to know them.

June is Pride Month and the LGBTQ+ community has an overwhelming amount of labels. It’s expedient to use just a few words to explain your gender identity and sexual orientation. However, phrases like “genderfluid pansexual person” or “asexual demiromantic female” are far less commonly understood than “rebellious mechanic mom” or “sporty accountant brother”.

If you’d like to brush up on common gender and sexuality terms, I recommend UCSF’s glossary. For a much longer and more comprehensive list, try’s.

With Pride Month in the news and on our social media feeds, these terms become more and more common. If you don’t know what something means, don’t be afraid to ask or look it up.

And remember: books can’t be defined by just a few words, and neither can people.

Happy Pride Month, everyone!


Podcast Palooza

There isn’t much to say here. I have been researching podcasting for the better part of the last year and realized I had started to compile quite the list of podcasts. I went a little further and started to categorize those podcasts and expand in each category with even more content. Before I knew it, I managed to accumulate an insane list to share with you all. If you can’t find something of interest here, you may want to start re-evaluating your life.

Most of the following podcasts are actively releasing new content as of the writing of this blog post. The few that are limited series or seem to have been discontinued have it noted in the description.

A warning about content in these podcasts is well disclaimed in Conan O’Brien Needs Friend: “free from FCC regulation.” So, please take into consideration that any of these podcasts are subject to the unpredictability of freely contributed internet content without regulation. While some of these podcasts are produced by renowned organizations, many of them will contain content that is sensitive to some and most suited for a mature audience. PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

Jump to…


Interview (Comedic)

  • The Joe Rogan Experience – One of the longest running podcasts, The Joe Rogan Experience explores quite a variety including science, politics, celebrities, and fringe topics.
  • SmartLess – A comedy podcast hosted by Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett. Each show has the trio interviewing a guest celebrity and hilarity always ensues. 
  • Armchair Expert – Hosted by actor Dax Shepherd where he interviews various celebrities.
  • Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend – Conan O’Brien takes his self-deprecating comedy to an auditory audience as he interviews various celebrities using a modified formula from his television shows.
  • Under the Skin – Russell Brand’s podcast delves into social issues and politics with leading professionals in their fields.

Interview (Serious)

  • TED Interview – You may have watched some TED talks on the many deep and meaningful topics they tackle. TED Interview has Chris Anderson, head of TED, interviewing like-minded professionals on a wide range of topics.
  • On Purpose – Jay Shetty’s podcast, On Purpose, is an attempt to “make wisdom go viral.”
  • You Turn Podcast – A podcast focused on improving its listeners’ lives in many facets of life through discussions with guests and hosted by Ashley Stahl.
  • The Genius Life – Max Lugavere brings professional guests on to share information on how to live a healthy life.

Listener Response

  • My Brother, My Brother and Me – Three brothers respond to listener questions filled with humor and sibling sarcasm. 
  • Timesuck! – Dan Cummins’ long but fascinating podcast episodes cover an array of listener-suggested topics taking on serious issues with a twist of comedic commentary.
  • Pen Pals with Daniel & Rory – The eponymous duo respond to letters sent in from their listener base.
  • Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People – A uniquely formatted podcast where the host takes a call from one listener and lets them tell their story while discussing the details.
  • The Peripheral – The host, Justin, collects listeners’ stories often considered taboo and shares them on the podcast. The show seems to have been discontinued but still has many episodes still available to listen to.


  • The Daily Zeitgeist – A humorous news podcast that ironically labels itself a second-rate program.
  • The Daily – A daily news podcast hosted by Michael Barbaro from The New York Times.
  • The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: Ears Edition – Takes the content from the television show, The Daily Show, and optimizes it for listeners in a podcast format.
  • Democracy Now! – One of NPR’s most popular radio shows and podcasts, Democracy Now! shares daily news on humanitarian and progressive issues in the United States.

True Crime

  • Casefile – An Australian true-crime podcast hosted by an anonymous man.
  • Mommy Doomsday – One of several Dateline podcasts, Mommy Doomsday is a limited series podcast hosted by the renowned Keith Morrison as he explores the strange disappearance of two of Lori Vallow’s children in Rexburg, Idaho.
  • Sword and Scale – The host, Mike Boudet, explores true crime stories while also interviewing criminals, witnesses, victims, and more in this long-running true-crime podcast.
  • My Favorite Murder – Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark share their favorite true crime stories while also hearing stories from friends and fans.
  • Criminal – An independently produced podcast hosted by Phoebe Judge where she shares “stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.”



  • This Paranormal Life – A weekly podcast where hosts Rory Powers and Kit Grier investigate cases surrounded with mystery and paranormal circumstance.
  • Spooked! – True stories about supernatural occurrences are shared by Snap Judgment’s host, Glynn Washington. 
  • The Dark Histories – A podcast that focuses on some of history’s strangest mysteries and darkest stories shared by Ben Cutmore.
  • And That’s Why We Drink – A terrifying and effective amalgamation of true crime and paranormal stories, And That’s Why We Drink‬ is the paranormal podcast to keep you up at night.
  • Unexplained You won’t find answers to these unsettling stories that have never been explained. 

Creativity & Art

  • The Unmistakable Creative A podcast designed to help get us creatives out of our slumps. Break those creative blocks with some inspiration from this podcast.
  • Sound & Vision – Host Brian Alfred travels to various studios and galleries to interview fellow creatives on their creative exploration in art and music.
  • Etsy Conversations Podcast – Most people have heard of Etsy, but how many have wondered how the creators came to be? This podcast has host Ijeoma interviewing various Etsy sellers to discuss their crafts and stories.
  • Creative Rebel‪s – Hosts David Speed and Adam Brazier interview other creatives who successfully rebelled against the standard day-job norms.
  • Design Matters – Touted as the longest running design podcast, Debbie Millman has been hosting Design Matters since 2005 discussing a variety of design-based topics with professionals in their fields.


  • Making It – The host trio of Jimmy Diresta, Bob Clagett, and David Picciuto discuss each of their unique areas of creative interests and what they have been making.
  • Reclaimed Audio – Another host trio, Phil Pinsky, Tim Sway, and Bill Lutes, share their very different attempts on making with reclaimed materials.
  • My Disney Class – A podcast that strives to bring the art and creative inspiration of Disney to classroom and makerspace educators everywhere.
  • Shop Talk Live – A podcast published by Fine Woodworking magazine where woodworking professionals discuss various subjects regarding woodwork.
  • 99% Invisible – A podcast hosted by Roman Mars where he digs into the architecture and design that is often left unappreciated or unnoticed in our day-to-day lives.


  • Everything is Alive – Host Ian Chillag interviews an inanimate object in each episode where the object gets to share all of the true aspects of its existence.
  • The Box of Odditie‪s‬ – A bizarre podcast on a slew of strange topics discussed by podcast hosts Kat & Jethro Gilligan Toth.
  • The Unusual History of Every Thin‪g‬ – Each podcast episode has hosts Melanie Dellas and Karen Lacy delve into the history of a selected subject matter whether it be leprechauns or the inaccuracy of our calendars.
  • This Is Actually Happening – A podcast that covers true stories full of unusual or extreme circumstances.
  • The Truth – A dramatic storytelling podcast that drags its listeners through unexpected places. Headphones are recommended.

Mixed Bag

  • Decoder Ring – Willa Paskin hosts this podcast on exploring cultural mysteries whether it be historical fads or unexpected societal changes.
  • The Adam Savage Project – Adam Savage of Myth Busters fame created a podcast to explore his many areas of interest including celebrity interviews, maker community discussions, and answering questions from the audience. The podcast recently concluded in January of 2021 but still has hundreds of episodes available to listen to.
  • Stuff To Blow Your Min‪d‬ – Robert Lamb and Joe McCormick discuss the many wonders of reality.
  • The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week – A podcast from Popular Science that offers questions about a wide array of subjects.
  • Stuff You Should Know, or SYSK – Hosted by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, former writers from HowStuffWorks, explore many topics to appease the inner information junkie in all of us.

Life, Health, and Love

  • Mark Groves Podcast – Mark Groves is a Human Connection Specialist and shares his insight into human relationships on all levels in his podcast.
  • Food Psych – Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CDN hosts this podcast on intuitive eating and body liberation.
  • Love, Food – Podcast host Julie Duffy Dillon, RDN navigates the complexity of intuitive eating in a world of social norms.
  • The Ultimate Health Podcast – Marni Wasserman and Dr. Jesse Chappus interview professionals on various health topics focused on holistic and alternative viewpoints to mainstream medical thinking.
  • The School of Greatness – One of the most popular podcast series on iTunes that provides listeners with information regarding many topics to help live a better life including entrepreneurship, health, and money.


  • The Golfer’s Journal Podcast – A podcast from The Golfer’s Journal covering all topics golf.
  • 30 For 30 Podcasts – A renowned sports podcast that brings captivating stories about sports and athletes from the broad world of sports.
  • The Mina Kimes Show featuring Lenny – Mina Kimes, an acclaimed sports journalist, discusses all things football with her friends and the occasional input from her dog, Lenny.
  • Pardon My Take – A comedic sports podcast from Barstool Sports that has hosts Big Cat & PFT Commenter covering various sports topics.
  • The Bill Simmons Podcast – Touted as “the most downloaded sports podcast of time,” Bill Simmons brings a variety show centered around his area of expertise—sports.


  • StarTalk Radio – Famed astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson hosts his equally as famous podcast, StarTalk, with various co-hosts and guests from both the science and entertainment industries.
  • Radiolab – Both a radio program and a podcast, New York’s Radiolab is a well-known and long-running series that started with a heavy focus on scientific inquiry, but has since branched out to include much more.
  • The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe – A podcast that discusses scientific issues with a panel of “skeptical rogues” that approaches everything with a sense of “scientific skepticism.”
  • Science Vs – A team of science-focused fact-checkers that tackle popular issues that need scientific backing or debunking.
  • Nature Podcast – The official podcast of Nature journal brings its scientific professionals’ voices to listeners’ ears.

Deep & Heavy

  • Griefcast – Cariad Lloyd takes a comedic approach to a very heavy topic—death.
  • On the Media – An NPR podcast that takes a critical view of the media and how it impacts us from a worldwide lens.
  • On Being – A radio show/podcast out of Minneapolis that asked “What does it mean to be human, and how do we want to live?”
  • Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everythin‪g‬ – An attempt to “connect the dots” of the complex world around us through a wide variety of topics.
  • Mindset Zone – A podcast that attempts to grow its listeners’ mindsets.


  • The Dollop – A history podcast with a comedic approach.
  • You’re Wrong Abou‪t‬ – Journalists Mike and Sarah challenge the socially prominent view of various historical topics and re-evaluate the controversial topics.
  • Mobituaries – Mo Rocca of CBS News takes some of his favorite underrated people from history and shares their little-known contributions. This does seem to be a limited podcast with the last episode in early 2020.
  • The Alarmist – A podcast that shares the blame behind some of history’s worst tragedies.
  • Noble Blood – Dana Schwartz’s historical podcast focuses on the royal side of history and the impact that various nobles have had on their nations.


Myth and Folklore

  • Myths and Legends – A podcast by Jason Weiser who shares stories from mythology and folklore from around the world.
  • Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby – A host known simply as Liv shares her favorite stories from Greek and Roman Mythology.
  • Mythunderstood – Paul Bianchi and Sarah Oliver take a comedic approach to sharing Paul’s love of Greek Mythology.
  • Drunk Mythology – Another comedy pair shares stories in mythology while they become intoxicated.
  • The Myth Legend & Lore Podcast – Siobhan Clark’s mesmerizing Irish accent drags her listeners in her tellings of mythology.


Variety Storytelling

  • Selected Shorts – Short stories are selected by guest hosts and performed by various famous actors and celebrities. Episodes are available for a limited time after first airing.
  • 1001 Classic Short Stories & Tales – Some of history’s greatest classics are read aloud by the show’s host, John Hagadorn.
  • The Writer’s Voice – The New Yorker provides a podcast where the authors of their stories read the stories that were provided in issues of The New Yorker.
  • Clarkesworld Magazine – This Science Fiction & Fantasy magazine shares some of its printed short stories in a podcast format for readers and listeners to enjoy.
  • Lightspeed Magazine – Another Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine that shares its published material. 

Horror Storytelling

  • Nightlight – This podcast has horror both written and performed by Black writers and actors.
  • Chilling Tales for Dark Nights – A weekly horror podcast that shares several stories per episode from various authors and professional voice actors.
  • The Magnus Archives – One of several varying podcasts out of Rusty Quill Ltd., The Magnus Archives is a horror anthology podcast touting five seasons of content so far.
  • The Wicked Library – An award-winning horror podcast that has a whopping ten seasons of content.

Real Life Stories

  • This American Life – A weekly podcast hosted by Ira Grass that airs on various radio stations and as a podcast that focuses primarily on non-fiction content.
  • Here Be Monster‪s‬ – A podcast by a socially anxious host, Jeff Emtman who shares his own experience on how to conquer one’s own fears.
  • Ear Hustle – The podcast about daily life in the prison where they interview prisoners currently or formerly incarcerated in the American prison system.
  • Conversations – A podcast based out of Australia and produced by ABC, Conversations brings truly incredible stories of people who have had amazing and sometimes horrifying experiences.
  • The Mortified Podcast – A podcast that has adults share some of their most embarrassing memorabilia from childhood.

Pop Culture

  • The Popcast With Knox and Jamie – A self-aware waste of time, The Popcast has hosts Knox and Jamie discussing pop culture every week.
  • How Did This Get Made? – Hosts Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas discuss terrible movies and wonder, “How Did This Get Made?
  • The Trend Reporter – A podcast that keeps its listeners up to date on the latest trends and topics.
  • Keep It – A podcast self-described as “a show about pop culture, politics, and what happens when they smack into each other at alarming speed.”
  • Culture Gabfest A Slate podcast about culture.


  • Reply All – A podcast from Gimlet Media about the mutually impactful effects of the internet and its users. This popular series was recently placed on indefinite hold as of February of 2021 but the almost 200 episodes are still available for your listening pleasure.
  • Accidental Tech Podcast – Three self-described nerds, Marco Arment, Casey Liss, John Siracusa, discuss nerdy tech topics in a collection of hundreds of episodes and counting.
  • Rocket – A weekly podcast where hosts, Christina Warren, Brianna Wu, and Simone de Rochefort, have “accelerated geek conversation.” A true nerd variety podcast.
  • Tech Talker – Eric Escobar takes the intimidating complexity of technology and explains it in layman’s terms for the average listener to understand.
  • Clockwise – A weekly podcast where hosts Dan Moren and Mikah Sargent invite two guests and the four discuss four topics regarding technology.


  • The Angie Lee Show – The self-declared “hilarious business x wellness bestie,” Ang, has made it her goal to help others find their energy.
  • Business Wars – A podcast that strives to bring the truth behind the scenes of business decisions that the average person is often left unaware of.
  • Dear HBR – HBR, aka Harvard Business Review, is a podcast that provides listeners with solutions for their difficulties at work.
  • The BizChix – A podcast for female entrepreneurs with a variety of success stories and coaching episodes.
  • Brown Ambitio‪n‬ – A weekly podcast where successful-in-life hosts, Mandi Woodruff and Tiffany Aliche, share their tips on how to be successful through investment and career choices.

Therapy & Psychology

  • Heavyweight – A seasonal podcast with host Jonathan Goldstein delving into the past of one subject per episode where he helps them come to terms with a moment they wish they could change.
  • Deeply Human‬ – A BBC podcast that helps explain why humans are the way they are.
  • Therapist Uncensored – A pair of therapists, Sue Marriott LCSW, CGP, and Ann Kelley PhD, host as they bring on various professionals in neuroscience onto the show.
  • ADHD reWired Podcast – Host, Eric Tivers, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with ADHD. He offers tips, stories, and strategies to help other adults with ADHD cope.
  • Therapy Chat Podcast – Best described with the intro from iTunes, “Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, Psychotherapist, Burnout Prevention Consultant and Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator interviews guests to discuss holistic and alternative approaches used in psychotherapy, counseling, coaching and healing sessions.”


  • Interfaith Voices – Started by a nun after 9/11 to bring together a multi-faith panel to discuss religious matters in an attempt to inform the public on religious issues and promote dialogue across religious lines.
  • Bible Project – BibleProject is a website dedicated to providing biblical information through modern technology. Their podcast expands on some of their other content and gets deeper with conversations between hosts Tim and Jon.
  • Hijabi Diaries – Its subtitle “Muslim women, speaking for themselves” speaks volumes. This podcast brings several Muslim women together from Indiana for them to share their otherwise unheard voices.
  • Buddhism Guide – Host Karma Yeshe Rabgye separates this podcast from other Buddhist podcasts by focusing on the “way of life” rather than the philosophy or religion. 
  • Heart and Soul – A BBC podcast that covers topics covering many religions throughout the world.

Racial Topics

  • Be the Bridge – Latasha Morrison hosts this podcast as a voice against racial injustice.
  • Floodlines – A limited podcast that covers the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina and the racial disparities and racist reactions to those events.
  • Code Switch – A hard-hitting podcast that attempts to bring racial topics to the table that are often avoided but are in dire need of coverage.
  • Good Ancestor – An interview podcast with host Layla F. Saad where she combats racism through conversations with “change-makers & culture-shapers.”
  • Intersectionality Matters – American civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw hosts this podcast that covers various topics that explore racial inequality in the United States.



  • Still Processing – A New York Times podcast hosted by Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham that covers many cultural topics through a queer lens.
  • LGBTQ&A – A podcast with an obvious subject matter that focuses on the success stories and lives of people who identify with LGBTQ+.
  • Food 4 Thot – I can’t describe it better than the iTunes description: “A multiracial mix of queer writers talk about sex, relationships, race, identity, what we like to read, and who we like to read. It’s not about food — we just really like the pun.”
  • Getting Curious – You may know him as the energetic hairdresser from Queer Eye, Jonathan Van Ness, or JVN, hosts this podcast where he interviews professionals from a variety of professional fields where they explore anything they find “curious.”
  • Las Culturistas – Hosts Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang talk with guests on their professional area of interest, culture. 

Local Eau Claire/Chippewa Valley

  • Get Lost: A Walking Podcast of Eau Claire – An innovative podcast created by students from the UWEC Theatre who took the opportunity during the COVID pandemic to create something unique and fun for the Eau Claire area.
  • Eau Claire Hometown Media – A collection of local community-related podcasts including emBarks’s A Dose of Dog, Northwestern Bank’s Banker with a Beer, and several more.
  • Cool & Unusual Punishment – Locally famed for its year-long coverage of the Joe Luginbill controversy, Cool & Unusual Punishment  covers Midwest “crime, corruption, and fascinating people.”

Podcasts About Podcasting (How Meta!)

  • Podcasts We Listen To – This podcast is focused on interviewing other podcasters to help listeners get to know their favorite podcast hosts a little better.
  • School of Podcasting – Not much to explain about this one. More than just a podcast, School of Podcasting has many tutorials and other resources to help would-be podcasters get launched.
  • Podcasters’ Roundtable – A podcast where podcasters get to have meaningful discussion on podcast topics.
  • She Podcasts – The host, Jessica, discovered a disparity in the female presence of podcast-related podcasts and knew that people needed to see the wonderful world of women in podcasts.
  • The Podcast Engineering Show Another meta podcast that focuses more on the technical side of things. Chris Curran interviews podcasters on their equipment and software.


  • Dewey Decibel – American Library Magazine’s podcast about all things library.
  • Cyberpunk Librarian – A podcast that amalgamates two wonderfully compatible topics, libraries, and technology.
  • Circulating Ideas – A podcast where they discuss innovation in libraries.
  • Book Riot – Books and reading is the topic of this weekly podcast.
  • Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange – A series of podcasts for librarians regarding professional development and material selection/suggestion.

Library Staff Favs

  • LeVar Burton Reads – Everyone’s favorite childhood bibliophile is now reading stories for adults in his very own podcast.
  • David Tennant Does a Podcast With… – Everyone’s favorite Doctor, or not, has his own podcast where he interviews various celebrities.
  • Ear BiscuitsGood Mythical Morning’s Xenniels, Rhett and Link, sum the show up best in their introductory statement, “Where two lifelong friends talk about life for a long time.”
  • Unf*ck Your Brain – A successful woman, Kara Loewentheil, podcasts with advice on how to cope with the struggles of succeeding as a woman.
  • Hello From the Magic Tavern – Host Arnie has been teleported to the magical land of Foon and uses his mysterious WiFi access to share his interviews with Foon’s inhabitants.
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

You Might Actually Enjoy Poetry. Who knew?

Like many people in our country and around the world, I watched the 2021 presidential inauguration and was absolutely enraptured by Amanda Gorman’s recitation of her poem “The Hill We Climb”. Her performance actually gave me goosebumps. It was the perfect reminder of how powerful poetry can be when given a chance.

“We’ve braved the belly of the beast.

We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,

and the norms and notions of what “just is”

isn’t always just-ice.”

-Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb”

Many of us, when we think about poetry, conjure up memories of being forced to tediously study the works of long-dead white men. Byron, Wordsworth, and Whitman are all still well-known poets for a reason, but they’re not for everyone. If your introduction to poetry was slogging through Tennyson for a high school literature class, you probably wrote off the whole affair.

But our memories deceive us. If you think your introduction to poetry happened in your teens, you’re probably mistaken.

Poetry is difficult to define. It can be defined as simply as “metrical writing” (Merriam-Webster), as extensively as “the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts” (, or as, well, poetically as “that synthetic and magical power, to which we have exclusively appropriated the name of imagination” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria).

By all of these definitions, many of our most beloved children’s picture books are a form of poetry. Meant to be read out loud, they frequently employ rhyme and rhythm, tell imaginative tales, and evoke beautiful and ofttimes magical imagery. Sure, they might not count as “elevated thoughts”, but rereading them as adults can bring out far more meaning than our young minds originally found.

“But the wild things cried, ‘Oh please don’t go—

We’ll eat you up—we love you so!’

And Max said, ‘No!’”

-Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

“Goodnight stars

Goodnight air

Goodnight noises everywhere”

-Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon

As you got older, chances are that you were introduced to fun poems written for children, such as those by Shel Silverstein or Jack Prelutsky.

“There is a voice inside of you

That whispers all day long,

‘I feel that this is right for me,

I know that this is wrong.’”

-Shel Silverstein, “The Voice”

Poetry is all around us in our everyday lives, too. Famous lines are printed on our coffee mugs, etched into statues and monuments, quoted in the dedications of our favorite books. We regularly reference poetry in conversation whenever we call our path “the road less travelled,” ironically bemoan our thirst despite there being “water, water, everywhere,” or comfort the grieving with the sentiment “’tis better to have loved and lost”. I’d even argue that song lyrics (at least some of them) are just poetry set to music.

So this April, for National Poetry Month, I challenge you to seek out poetry that you enjoy. If you enjoy nature, check out Mary Oliver. Do you read young adult and coming-of-age stories? Try Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming. If you like vivid, artistic imagery, try former poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. And if you’re just looking for a bit of nostalgia, A Pizza the Size of the Sun is where it’s at, I promise not to judge.

*Also, if you’d like to try your hand at writing some poetry, check out these instructions from our Dabble Box Makerspace on Types of Poetry and Blackout Poetry.


For almost a decade my wife and I have watched my nieces and nephews have several children, letting my in-laws have these great grandparent experiences. You watch these babies grow up, play with them on occasion, and get all sorts of pictures and videos. But we are not really involved in their lives, living many miles away.

Yippee! That changed last December, as our first grandchild, a boy, was born. A huge benefit is that he lives in Eau Claire! He is just a joy to watch, as my wife and I usually get to watch him once a week for a few hours, and sometimes more. I think the only time I have heard him cry was when he has to get bundled up to go home.

But, a bit of a backstory, in that we do have a grandchild. However, he was placed for adoption and is doing very well in Oklahoma, but we are not part of his life. Since all of my children are adopted, this is a topic for a future blog.

Certainly, there will be challenges ahead. Our home will need to be baby-proofed, again. And let’s face it; kids can be, well, little monsters at times. They require time, effort, and patience. But is it not true that as grandparents we get to spoil them more than their parents? Give them candy, ice cream, and Mountain Dew before you send them home?

Grandparents provide a valuable resource to share their stories and histories, and also offer links to their family history. My wife and I both have so many stories about our grandparents we can share. We hope to be able to set limits and lessons from parents, to listen, and show them we understand. And to always know they are loved.

For those grandparents who are needed to raise their grandchildren, there are several resources to help. is a federal government website that has a special page for grandparents raising grandchildren. You can get access to information here about government benefits and social services, insurance and financial planning information, and all kinds of other resources to help with raising grandchildren. Of course, the library also has a variety of books on not only government benefits but also the lifelong benefits of watching family grow.

For all you grandchildren out there, Sunday, September 12, is National Grandparents Day.

We are blessed to watch this new person grow and learn and to hopefully be an important part of his life.

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!

Text reads February Factoids: of 28 is but one

February Factoids

Thirty days have November,
April, June, and September.
Of 28 is but one
And all the remnant 30 and 1.

Happy first day of the shortest month of the year. After a January that felt like a year-long month, I am actually looking forward to the abbreviated month of February, perhaps for the first time in my life. After we’ve all (hopefully) remembered to say “rabbits, rabbits, rabbits” this morning for a little bit of luck to get us through the cold days ahead, here is a list of 28 factoids to help us celebrate this shortest month of the year.

  1. February wasn’t even part of the evolving Roman calendar, or the Calendar of Romulus (named after the legendary first king of Rome), which commenced with the month of March (the spring equinox) and ended with December. The coldest and darkest part of the year was of no use to harvesters and planters and remained nameless until King Numa Pompilius said, “Hey, what’s the point of having a calendar when we are ignoring one-sixth of the year?” Thus, the calendar was reformed to align with the lunar cycles and those nameless days became January and February, but they originally fell at the end of the year!
  2. Punxsutawney Phil lives in a climate-controlled habitat attached to the Punxsutawney Memorial Library. Although the in-person celebration at Gobbler’s Knob has been suspended this year, you can witness the Prognosticator of Prognosticators predict our wintery fate starting at 6:30 a.m. EST here:
  3. February 3 is known as the The Day the Music Died, commemorating the untimely death of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper. Their pilot, Roger Peterson, also perished in the crash.
  4. President Gerald Ford decreed Black History Month a national observance in 1976, on both the fiftieth anniversary of the first iteration and America’s bicentennial year. Every year since, the American president, issues a proclamation endorsing the annual theme chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the Founders of Black History Month. This year’s theme is The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.
  5. It’s also known as “National Fasting February,” a month for transforming new health resolutions into healthy habits and lifestyles.
  6. President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed first American Heart Month in February 1964 via Proclamation 3566 on Dec. 30, 1963.
  7. Every Super Bowl since 2002 has occurred in February, but as the Packers aren’t in it this year, I couldn’t care less.
  8. February 8 is Kite Flying Day. Area forecast calls for a high of 6 degrees and 12 mph winds from the WNW. No thank you.
  9. February was the most commonly misspelled word in the state of New Jersey in 2016 according to a Google search trends report. What was the most commonly misspelled word in Wisconsin that year? Vacuum.
  10. The play Death of a Salesman premiered on February 10, 1949. Oddly enough, its playwright, Arthur Miller, died on the same day fifty-six years later.
  11. Perhaps one of the oddest national days on the calendar, February 11 is known as “National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day.”
  12. Yes, the 16th president of the United States was born on the morning of February 12, 1809 in a one-room log cabin with a dirt floor, but did you also know that Abraham Lincoln was kicked in the head by a horse as a child and presumed dead? Maybe that explains why he became such a successful vampire hunter. February 12, 2021 is also the first day of the first month on the Chinese calendar, marking the beginning of the Chinese New Year. 2021 is the Year of the Ox.
  13. Charles “Chuck” Yeager was born on February 13, 1923. He was the first pilot in history confirmed to break the sound barrier in level flight, and he accomplished this amazing feat on October 14, 1947 with two broken ribs.
  14. Those same ancient Romans that gave us the month of February may also be responsible for the name of our modern day celebration of Valentine’s Day, but for some pretty dark reasons. Emperor Claudius II executed two men named Valentine in two separate years during the 3rd Century C.E. On a lighter note, one in four people buy Valentine’s Day gifts for their pets and almost half admit to cuddling their dog more than their partner.
  15. Did you know that Presidents Day (a.k.a. President’s Day or Presidents’ Day) is not a national holiday? However, it is a great day for boosting car sales.
  16. February 16th, or “Do a Grouch a Favor Day,” and may or may not have been invented by Big Bird. If you have a grouch in your life, try to engage with them through an act of kindness and break them out of their slump. After all, as Oscar the Grouch would say, “It’s called a garbage can, not a garbage cannot.”
  17. Some fun factoids for February 17th: Sardines were first canned in Maine, Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase incensed viewers, the PTA was founded, and Elvis Presley was awarded his first gold album for “Elvis.”
  18. Pluto was discovered in 1930. Joke’s on them. They totally thought it was a planet.
  19. The Anglo-Saxon name for the month of February was Solmōnaþ, in modern English this translates as hearthcake. During this month, they offered cakes to their gods. For some great cake recipes, check out our system’s collection of cake cookbooks.
  20. Now that you’ve had some cake, how about a slice of pie? February 20 is Cherry Pie Day. Grab a slice of cherry pie and a cup of coffee, because as Special Agent Dale Cooper would say, “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present.”
  21. February is also known as “Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month.” This has been observed since 1969.
  22. I’ll be taking my dog for a walk today, as February 22 is Walking the Dog Day, but I do that every day, so maybe I’ll spend the day learning this Yoyo trick instead…
  23. February 23rd is the 54th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar, the calendar that is used in most of the world. There are 311 days remaining until the end of the year. The Gregorian Calendar is more accurate than the Julian Calendar it replaced, but it is still off by one day every 3,236 years.
  24. In 1712, Sweden and Finland actually had a Double Leap Year, creating a February 30. If the odds of being born on February 29 are 1 in 4,691, just imagine the odds of having been born that day! (I’m not a statistician. If you want to do the math, you can let me know the odds in the comments).
  25. The Beatles made their first appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” in February 1964. Over 73 million Americans tuned in to watch the Fab Four perform. Despite the turnout in viewers, the show’s musical producer didn’t really care for them and was quoted as saying to the New York Times: “The only thing that’s different is the hair, as far as I can see. I give them a year.”
  26. February 26th is National Pistachio Day. Not only are these little nuts fun to crack, they’re heart-healthy, too! (see number 6) Fun facts about pistachios: they grow on trees, the trees take 7-10 years to mature, in China they are called “the happy nut,” and while Pandas are mostly known for eating bamboo, they also love pistachios because they are crispy and sweet. Oh, and they are great on ice cream!
  27. A month without a full moon can only happen in the month of February, and it takes almost 20 years for the cycle of lunar phases to work out just right. However, the Snow Moon will rise at 3:19 a.m. EST on February 27. This moon represents the time to come out of our rest and hibernation and for our intentions for the year to truly manifest.
  28. Final fun factoid for February: According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, February 28 is the best day to: quit smoking, begin diet to lose weight, have dental care, harvest below ground crops, wean animals or children, and pick fruit, all based on the position of the Moon.


Image of the Neighborhood Trolley from Mr. Rogers

What Would Mr. Rogers Say?

I strive to empower my children to be good people, do right in the world, to actively participate, be positive, not to sweat the small stuff, and focus their energy on meaningful work. However, the last several months, and in more recent days, I have found myself drowning in conversations on current (difficult) events in the news that my information professional brain struggles to articulate in words to my impressionable adolescents. Not quite knowing where to start, I called on our Early Literacy and Outreach Librarian, Jerissa, who is knowledgeable in parenting resources.

“Have you tried the Fred Rogers Center?” Jerissa asked.

B&W Photo of Fred RogersMr. Rogers! Of course! How could I not consider that?! Together Jerissa and I cruised through to uncover a timely resource “Talking with Children about Difficult Things in the News.” In this one page resource, I am reminded in my widowed parenthood that “even when you are overwhelmed, unsure of what to say, or are struggling, you are just what the child in your life needs and you are enough.”

You are enough. Parents balancing work, school, finances, custody schedules, and/or personal strife… you are enough. The Fred Rogers Center suggests you tell your children you will “always care for them and love them, no matter what.” When you don’t know the answer to a difficult question, especially pertaining to recent events, it’s okay to say you do not know and work together to learn more. Ask your child how they are feeling and listen. We are reminded by Fred Rogers that “listening to a child’s feelings around uncertainty can help them feel safe.”

Listen. You are enough.

The L.E. Phillips Public Library and Family Resource Center have partnered with Mayo Clinic and UW-Extension to offer Positive Parenting Programs (Triple P). January through March programs being offered include The Power of Positive Parenting; Raising Confident, Competent Children; and Raising Resilient Children. More information can be found here.

Hindsight is 2020

Lessons from an Eye-Opening Year

As I write, there are only hours left in 2020, hands down the most surreal year of many of our lives. Far from being a time of clear sight, the last year was chaotic, confused, and uncertain. Looking back from the last day of the year, I’m still struggling to find an objective perspective, but that won’t stop me trying to reflect.

2020 was an often divisive and sometimes outright combative year. Despite the fact that we all lived through the same major events (Covid, shut-downs, job loss and an unstable economy, protests, politics) we didn’t all experience these events in the same ways and most of us feel incredibly strongly about the opinions we’ve formed.

“…many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” –Obi-Wan Kenobi, Return of the Jedi

Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of opinions, however, I believe there are several universal lessons we learned in 2020, willingly or not. Or who knows, I could be blinded by my own frame of reference. Either way, here are the lessons that I will be taking with me into the New Year.

Adaptability – No matter where you live, no matter what you do, your life has changed this year. Our jobs have changed, our traditions have changed, even how we grocery shop is different. We had to get creative in our problem solving and learn to compromise even if we didn’t like it.

Patience – Some of us are better at this than others. I’ll admit it; I’ve practiced patience this year under duress and as a survival technique. Patience does not necessarily mean serenity or peace or contentedness. Sometimes, patience is just tolerance. It’s reluctant acceptance of things we can’t control. I couldn’t speed up the creation of a vaccine, I couldn’t make Election Day arrive any sooner; all I could control was my attitude towards waiting.

“Remember—your focus determines your reality.” – Qui-Gon Jinn, The Phantom Menace

Self-Sufficiency – If you didn’t learn at least one new DIY skill this year or perfect one you already had, you didn’t live in the same 2020 as me. Maybe you already knew how to bake bread, sew face masks, and trim hair, but I bet you learned something new to cope with the frustration, boredom, and stress of being cooped up at home.

And finally, the most important lesson I’m taking away from 2020 is

Hope – Our problems will not instantly be solved in 2021. We’ll have new problems, too. We won’t even always agree on whether things are getting better or worse. But all we can’t change the past and we can’t see the future. All we can do is move forward, adapting and learning and patiently looking for opportunities for things we can do to make our future better.

“Hope is like the sun. If you only believe it when you can see it you’ll never make it through the night.” –Leia Organa, The Last Jedi

Through continuing change, please remember your library is here for you, whether you need help finding something to read, assistance locating community resources, or you find yourself suddenly needing a Star Wars fix. Information and Reference staff are available at 715-839-5004 or

Several Christmas movies on a book shelf with the movie, Elf, faced out.

Favorite Christmas Movies

I admit it! I love movies! My wife and I miss going to an actual movie theater, but what can you do?

When it comes to Christmas movies, I certainly do have my favorites. However, to me, a Christmas movie has to do with the actual holiday, and the wonderful ideas of family, friendship, love, giving, hope, and peace on earth. For Christians, the birth of Jesus is a significant event.

Searching for the most popular Christmas movies, there are several that come up that are not really about the Christmas Holiday, but only take place during the season. Home Alone was a riot with Macaulay Culkin, Bruce Willis was my hero in Die Hard, and Ben Affleck wearing a Santa outfit at the end of Reindeer Game was a hoot. But each of these was more about the story and characters, than about Christmas.

There are many classic Holiday movies out that I have truly enjoyed over the years. Some of these are It’s a Wonderful Life, The Polar Express, White Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Holiday Inn, Miracle on 34th Street, plus several Grinch productions, with Jim Carrey as my winner. Also, Scrooge has had many different lead actors, but I think Patrick Stewart portrayed Ebenezer the best in the 1999 Christmas Carol production.

Some newer comedic movies I also enjoyed were Christmas with the Kranks, Four Christmases, and The Christmas Chronicles on Netflix.

Here are my five favorites:

5. The Holiday, with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Jack Black. Wonderful story about four lonely and flawed people that meet over the Holidays after the two women in the story swap houses from Los Angeles and small-town England.

4. A Christmas Story. Who has not seen Ralphie almost shoot his eye out with his new Red Rider BB gun? Or stuck their tongue to a flagpole on a cold winter day? How many of you have a leg lamp as a Christmas ornament?

3. Elf. You may have to be a Will Ferrell fan, but Buddy is just so cute, loveable, and innocent that you just have to pull for him. Zooey Deschanel is simply adorable as Buddy’s friend, and Ed Asner looks and sounds, well, just like Santa!

2. The Santa Clause, starring Tim Allen. He plays an ordinary man, Scott Calvin (same initials as Santa Claus), who accidentally causes Santa to fall off his roof on Christmas Eve. Scott then must assume the role of Santa, and delivers presents around the world with his son Charlie, played superbly by Eric Lloyd. The drastic transformations Scott goes through the next year, such as weight gain and a beard, are magic special effects. It is a funny and heartwarming story about believing not only in Santa but family as well.

And #1 on my list? Love Actually. This sexy romantic comedy starts five weeks before Christmas, delving into the different aspects of love from a variety of individuals, many are shown to be interlinked at the end. Bill Nighy as an aging rock star is hilarious, Hugh Grant as a serious, love-struck Prime Minister, and Liam Neeson’s son Sam, played by Thomas Sangster, flawlessly plays a tween boy who falls in love with a classmate. With several other intertwining stories and characters, it is a must-see. There are several other well-played parts of the story by Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, and Rowan Atkinson. Like life itself, not all the stories have happy endings.

Love Actually movie posterAs always, the library has many of these available to check out. With our new hold pickup service, library staff want to help all of us get past what has been a challenging 2020 for many people. Our only goal is to help you get the movies, books, and music you love into your hands.

The Reference Team is here to help 10-5, Monday-Friday. Please give us a call at 715-839-5004, send an email to, or contact us via our new chat window.

Merry Christmas, and Blessed New Year to all!