Sweater Weather in the Chippewa Valley

It’s that time of the year again… The time of cozy drinks, oversized sweaters, crisp air… and of course, tacky Halloween decorations. In fact, September 22nd is the first official day of autumn!

Fall is my favorite, and no matter how much I do during this season, I always feel like it’s not enough. This time however, I decided to take it upon myself to ask library staff what their most treasured traditions are when the leaves are golden.

For starters, have you considered browsing our DVD/BLU RAY/4K collection of horror movies and cozy fall TV shows? I might not be a kid anymore, but I’m not too old for a sleepover. You can always invite some friends over, bake some seasonable snacks with one of our cookbooks, and spend a rainy night on the couch. Halloween pajamas are a plus! For younger audiences I’d recommend Over the Garden Wall or Gravity Falls, and for adults, The Haunting of Hill House and CastleRock are both equally binge worthy.

Or you can take it one step up from film and see one of the seasonal performances at the Children’s Theater. This year, the ECCT is having productions of “Jekyll and Hyde” (Oct 1-3) “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (Oct. 14-17) and ”Evil Dead” (Oct 28th-30th). The performances are conveniently located near a riverside bike trail and the Brewing Projekt – a great opportunity to take a scenic walk through colored leaves, or have a drink before the show! Other beautiful areas for enjoying the foliage include Pinehurst Park, Putnam Trail, the Northwest Community Park, Chippewa River Trail… the list goes on. For a full list of bike trails of the Chippewa Valley, feel free to find maps to keep here at the public library.

Finally, my favorite fall tradition is to take a Saturday and hit up the very last of the garage sales around town. Afterwards, we end the day at Autumn Harvest winery where we enjoy a sunset over hills of red trees and a bottle of wine. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a live music performance while you’re there! Other popular locations could include the Glass Orchard, which is a unique glass studio and orchard combined. It also happens to be right across from Ferguson’s Orchard, which has a lot less glass art and a lot more giant inflatable pumpkin jumping pads. And by a lot, I mean one. But really, isn’t one enough?

For more ideas, you can visit Volume One’s local event Calendar, or you can always pop into the library! If you have your own that you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments below.


Cook Books 

Over the Garden Wall

Gravity Falls 

Haunting of Hill House

Castle Rock, Season 1

Castle Rock, Season 2

ECCT Shows

Glass Orchard

Ferguson’s Orchard

Volume One Event Calendar

Reflections on Generosity During Times of Crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Links: Linking You to Your Next Great Read

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

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

Browse a favorite genre or check out a new topic to broaden your reading horizons by visiting www.ecpubliclibrary.info/booklinks.


Welcome, New Neighbors

It comes as no surprise that over the last 20 years the United States has been at war in Afghanistan. During that time U.S. troops worked hard to build relationships and help support people in Afghanistan to rebuild their county. While this was occurring people in Afghanistan risked their lives and welcomed U.S. troops into their homes and assisted in navigating the unfamiliar languages and landscapes. Now it is our turn to repay that favor and welcome those into our communities that once welcomed our troops. We can do this by fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment.

How can I help?

• Learn more about the culture and common customs of people from Afghanistan. Our library is filled with books and digital materials to learn more about what refugees from Afghanistan have experienced, as well as the war that has gone on for the last 20 years.

• Learn basic greetings and phrases in Pashto and Dari with our free Mango Languages app. Or go a little more in-depth by using Transparent Languages. https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/databases-research/

• Donate food and household items to local drives or donate money to these sources. Please be mindful of halal food and the processes that are respected as halal in the processing of foods. Having food and items that individuals are used to will greatly aid with the culture shock people experience when relocating.

The following agencies have been identified by Fort McCoy as ways to volunteer or donate: · Team Rubicon: https://teamrubiconusa.org · American Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/local/wisconsin.html · International Rescue Committee: https://www.rescue.org/ · United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: https://www.usccb.org/ · Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse: https://bit.ly/3Bs4l50

Thank you to our troops for all they have done over the series of conflicts in the Middle East. If you know veterans, please check on them and offer support to them as well. The individuals fleeing the country, dying, and being attacked are the very people they had close connections with while your troops were away from home. If you are or if you know a veteran in need contact: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/

There are enough resources to be shared with all who need them at this trying time. Take care, be well, and spread kindness.

Looking to read more about refugees? Click the book covers below and be directed to a list of adult, teen, and children books.

Live Music Performance in Phoenix Park, Eau Claire, WI

Outdoor Music is Back

In so many ways, 2020 was a bust, right?  Certainly, the larger issues of death, illnesses, jobs lost, and businesses closing were the big picture but who did not miss their favorite outdoor activities?

For me, it is all of the free outdoor music events that are so well attended in the Chippewa Valley.  All of these are free and open to the public through the summer, weather permitting of course.

In Altoona, at the River Prairie Center, they have the Kickin’ It Country on Monday night, and Rock’n on the River Concert Series on Wednesday evenings.

Eau Claire offers Tuesday Night Blues at Owen Park on Tuesdays, the Eau Claire Municipal Band at Owen Park on Wednesday, and the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series at Phoenix Park on Thursday evenings.

Last, at the new Riverfront Park in Chippewa Falls, they offer their Music at the Riverfront on Sunday evenings.

That is not all! Of course there are several bars, restaurants, and coffee shops with free music group offerings that go on all year long.

Your best bet to check out who is performing at each event?  Volume One is the areas go-to place for this information, with their free publications all over the city, plus their website at www.volumeone.org.  Phone is 715-552-0457.  Or call the Reference Team at the library at 715-839-5004, cuz we know, well, almost everything.

I get it. Now it is August, and summer is rapidly ending. So forget the chores for a night. Do not work later. Do the laundry or garden another day.  Summer is always way too short, so get out and enjoy the wonderful local offerings. Food trucks are an option at each venue, but feel free to bring your own beverage, food, and yes, dog. On a leash, please!

Want to listen to the local music artists that are featured at these events?  We have many CDs here at the library, or you can enjoy them to stream, or even download, through our free digital service, Sawdust City Sounds.

Sorry Eau Claire, but my favorite?  Wednesday night at River Prairie in Altoona.  There is better seating, suits my music taste better, and the dance floor is often packed.


Tasting the Unknown

While we are certainly not out of the clear of this pandemic, it has been nice to finally go to events again after getting vaccinated. One event I sorely missed last year was the Minnesota State Fair, which is one of the funnest events of the summer. I love checking out all the awesome things at the fair, but what gets me the most excited is definitely trying out the new foods. There’s something so exciting about trying something new for the first time. This year, I’m definitely excited for the Waffle Burger, Panera Pakora, and Cucumber Jalapeño Limeade.

When it comes to restaurants, I’m always excited to try out one I’ve never been before or a menu item I’ve never had before. Even when it seems a little iffy at first, like cactus or beef tongue, you sometimes might end up finding a new favorite food!

Likewise, I like to try my hand at cooking interesting foods I’ve never eaten before as well. One of my new favorite things to cook is Chinese crispy pork belly. The contrast of the delicious pork, juicy fat, and crisp skin is amazing! Traditionally, from what I read, it is dipped in either mustard or sugar (but not both). Mustard made sense, but I was surprised how well the sugar tasted. I also love perusing the grocery store, seeing a particular ingredient, and wondering what it could be used for. I then go home and look it up and try to make it!

Is there anything strange you’ve eaten that you wouldn’t have thought you’d enjoy, but did? Did you find an awesome recipe and cook something you normally wouldn’t that have tasted amazing? Share it!

Let’s Get Ready to Roleplay!!!

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

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

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

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

The Dog Days of Summer

My mother always told me the older you get the faster summer goes. I hate to admit it but she was right! It seems like as soon as we finish up celebrating the 4th of July, the summer flies by, and in a blink of an eye, we are planning for the kids to return to school.

When I think of the “Dog Days of Summer,” I often think of the long hot days that never seem to end. But now I embrace these days. These are the days were the kids play outside with friends, are in and out of the pool, or jumping off our boat into the lake. At one time I couldn’t wait for the “Dog Days” to be over, now I wish they wouldn’t go by so fast. A friend mentioned to me one day that we only get 18 summers with our kids until they are adults and out on their own. Only 18 summer vacations to make memories that will last a lifetime.

The next time the days seem to go by too fast, take a breath. Find a way to sit back and enjoy the moment. Watch the sunset, enjoy that ice cream cone, or sip that drink a little bit slower. Before we know it the years have gone by so fast and we haven’t taken the time to enjoy the moment. I always tell our volunteers with the Friends of the Library, “the books will always be here.” The dirty dishes will always be in the sink, the laundry will always need to be folded, the house may be a mess, but take the time to make a memory first.

Don’t let the “Dog Days of Summer” bog you down, let them boost you up!

Banner reads Graphic Novels in Libraries Month

Graphic Novels in Libraries Month

This July marks Booklist’s third annual “Graphic Novels in Libraries Month,” and we want you to join us in celebrating! Whether it is your very first time reading a graphic novel, or you know more about the genre than library staff, here are a few new staff picks from our collection of graphic novels you are sure to enjoy:


This graphic novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s 1993 sci-fi novel Parable of the Sower was adapted by the award-winning team of Damian Duffy and John Jennings. The year is 2024 and the country is suffering from massive climate disasters, economic and social inequalities, and corporate greed. Amidst the chaos, a preacher’s daughter living in a gated community in Los Angeles is faced with a series of horrors that force her into a fight for survival.


Rebecca Burgess’ 2020 memoir about growing up asexual was selected as a 2020 LGBTQIA+ Graphic Novel for Young Readers by Publishers Weekly. Growing up, Rebecca just assumes that sex is something Cover art for How to be ACEthey will “grow into,” but as they continue to be baffled by the sex obsessed teenagers around them, they learn to understand and embrace their own asexuality. Burgess’ charming and funny insights into their asexuality and asexual relationships empowers readers to embrace their own identities. “Like every other sexuality, asexuality is just a simple, shorthand label to help someone express their much more individual and unique experience!”


Cover art for graphic novel FangsLooking for a little supernatural romance involving a 300-year-old vampire and a werewolf? Filled with humor and puns and really fun illustrations, Sarah Andersen’s graphic novel Fangs is a Too Good to Miss title that might be just your blood type. (ha ha ha)


Rounding out my list of recent graphic novel recommendations is I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Mannie Murphy. What starts as a reminiscence about the author’s infatuation with River Phoenix Cover art for I Never Promised You a Rose Gardenmorphs into a history of white supremacy in the Pacific Northwest. Murphy deftly weaves alternative culture icons, including William S. Burroughs, Keanu Reeves, Phoenix, and Gus Van Sant, with local history about the Whitman Massacre of 1847, the Ku Klux Klan’s involvement in Portland’s city planning, and the “Rose City” street kids who made their way onto the screen in some of Van Sant’s films.


Getting the Most Out of Your Summer

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

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

For families:

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

For friends:

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

For adults:

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

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

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