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!

Developing a Winter Resilience Plan

With the weather growing colder we can no longer deny that winter is upon us here in Wisconsin. On an average year, the coming of winter can bring both dread and happiness for many. With the changes to our lives with COVID-19, many individuals have been overwhelmed with a sense of dread for the 2020/2021 winter. Luckily we still have time to start coping ahead for the isolation and possible quarantines that may take place during these colder months.

What is coping ahead? Coping ahead is one way to enhance our resiliency—the ability to bounce back from something difficult. Coping ahead is what we do when we can see those difficulties coming. Think to yourself about how winters normally go for you. Do you immediately start to isolate and feel down? Maybe it isn’t until February hits that winter starts to wear on you? Maybe it’s frequent up and downs? Or maybe your bigger concern is coping through a quarantine? No matter what, you can make a plan to start taking care of yourself now, so when things get tough you are already on track and prepared.

Imagine you have a toolbox that you are preparing for when days get tough, this could even be a physical box that you store a few things in to keep yourself busy. Here are a few ideas to pack in your toolbox to prepare for tough days.

Start With the Basics. Sleeping, eating, and taking care of hygiene are some of the basics of feeling good. We can spin out of control very quickly when these basics are “off”. Find a schedule that works for you to keep you on track. Maybe start meal planning to make sure your shopping trips are more efficient and that you are balancing meals in a way that works for you. This can help prevent snacking or skipping meals that can occur when we are not feeling well.

Use Your Library. We are here for you no matter if our doors are open or closed. Search tons of content, books, movies, magazines, music, and more, all from the safety of your home! Check out our digital services here. We also have cool things to try like a light therapy kit that you can use to see if it helps relieve your symptoms of feeling sad and/or groggy during the wintertime. We also have snowshoes that you can check out that, just maybe, will help you embrace the snow. Our materials can also help push you towards opposite actions. This is when we are feeling sad so we choose a book or movie that will make us laugh. Doing these opposite actions can be hard at first, but may help shift your mood to a more positive place.

Be Active. Try to maintain or slightly increase the exercise you have been doing. Try YouTube for videos on yoga in your chair. Next, get the whole family moving with YouTube channels like Yoga with Adriene or Cosmic Kids Yoga. These are great options for gently exercising your whole body in small spaces. If you can, get outside and do a lap around the block, do what you can, and just keep yourself moving!

Stay Connected. Make a plan for who you want to stay connected with. I have seen a resurgence in popularity for pen pals, or people scheduling regular phone chats. This is a very positive way to safely stay connected to people we care about.

Be Prepared. Have essentials ready if you need to quarantine. This is everything from canned goods and medicines, to projects, crafts, and puzzles that can help keep you busy. When you are feeling good (hopefully you are right now!) don’t delay getting these items out. Put them all together in one place so you are ready. This may help prevent you from feeling out of control and unprepared. It may also help you choose healthy hobbies to go to instead of getting sucked into doing nothing or other unhealthy pastimes.

Talk to Your Doctor. Ask your doctor if any treatments or supplements may be right for you.

Talk to a Therapist. If you are experiencing ongoing distress it may be time to talk to someone to help you cope through the hard times.

Get Help. If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of hurting themselves or thoughts of no longer wanting to be here, know that there is help out there and to not delay. A local emergency resource is Northwest Connections, or the national resource—the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

If you have more questions about library materials and events, please reach out to the library’s Information and Reference staff, call them at 715-839-5004, chat with them via our website, or email them at

If you want to get connected to community resources to support your social, mental, and physical health, please contact the Community Resource Specialist by reaching out at 715-839-5061 or at

International Games Week, Month, Thing 2020

Wondering if we’re doing anything for IGW this year? Bummed out because COVID’s getting all the fun stuff canceled? Well, we are doing what we can! We have a few options for all you gamers and game-curious. We are running a couple of games online as well as providing customers with packets of printed games, often referred to as Print & Play games. I will also share a list of Print & Play resources if you want to print some of your own copies at home.

Now, for the events! First, we have Teamfight Tactics night with Jon. He will be running a session with up to seven other players on Thursday, November 5th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Players will need a Discord account and a Riot Games account to participate. Come a little early if you need help. Don’t be alarmed when you find you are creating an account for League of Legends. Teamfight Tactics is part of LoL. Registration for the event is here.


Second, we have Board Game Arena night with Brad. The night is Thursday, November 12th from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Come a little early if you need help. Depending on the number of registrants, there will be a number of games to choose from. We could play Carcassonne, Kingdomino, Sushi Go!, Love Letter, or Saboteur. Players will need a Discord account and a Board Game Arena account to participate. Registration for the event can be found here.

Last, and certainly not least, we have our Print & Play games. Five games will be available for you to take home and play. The games have been printed out and need to be cut out, but will be yours to keep and play forever after. Each game was obtained from the manufacturer/creator who has graciously shared their games for anyone to use. We will have the demo version of both Dixit and Carcassonne from Asmodee, Love Letter Sender from Z-Man Games, Dungeon Squad 2 from Bully Pulpit Games, and Caterpillar Feast from Venntik Games. If you have the means to print at home, you are certainly welcome to grab the files yourself and print at your leisure.

The following is a list of more resources where you can find games to Print & Play at home.
Jellybean Games
Greenbrier Games
Good Little Games
Cheapass Games
PNP Arcade

The following is a list of free tabletop game websites where you can play various tabletop games online.
Board Game Arena
Boite a Jeux

I Voted Roll of Stickers


All I am going to say about the upcoming election is to please vote. Do yourself a favor if you do wish to vote, and make your plan. If you choose to vote on election day at your local polling place, I suggest you double check the location. In Eau Claire, my ward voting location has changed in each of the last 3 elections. The first was due to COVID-19, and the second I do not know why.

Should you wish to vote absentee, great! Just know the local laws, rules, timelines, and dates that are required. Questions? Call the Eau Claire Elections Office at 715-839-4913. Again, please make a plan, understand the current laws, and do not leave your vote to chance.

Nothing political here, I promise. Just some interesting, and I admit, a sometime odd history lesson on voting in the United States. Yes, we were taught early on in school that we are the land of the free, and home of the brave. Yet, in the first Presidential election in 1789, voters were almost all Protestant white males that owned land. Not exactly the land of the free for women, Blacks, Asians, Native Americans, or non-land holders.

OK, I did say nothing political here, but unlike today’s Congress, our Founding Fathers really knew how to compromise. The North wanted slaves to count more than the South did, as the goal was to determine taxes paid to the states by the federal government. But regarding representation in Congress, the South wanted slaves to count more than the North did. The Compromise in 1787? After a long debate, what was agreed upon was to count ‘all other persons’ as only 3/5 of their actual numbers. For what we call the Census today, whites counted as 1, where slaves counted as Three-Fifths.

There were movements within states to end these restrictions, starting in 1792 when New Hampshire became the first state to end any sort of landowning requirement. But not until North Carolina became the last state to do so in 1856 did this idea come to an end in the USA.

But while voting rights were expanded for some groups, states also began to enact laws that barred women, African Americans, Native Americans, and many immigrants from being allowed to cast ballots. In 1776 New Jersey allowed ‘all inhabitants’ to vote, but in 1807 passed a law barring women from voting. "Voting isn't the most we can do, but the least. To have a democracy, you have to want one." ~Gloria Steinem

1821 saw New York required Blacks voters to own property worth an amount that more or less banned them. In 1882 the Chinese Exclusion Act prevented Chinese immigrants from becoming citizens, thereby blocking them from the polls.

After slavery ended, the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 gave all men, regardless of ‘race, color, or previous condition of servitude,’ the right to vote. However, many southern states tried to suppress Black voters by intimidation, poll, taxes, and even literacy tests. Nearly all African Americans had been effectively blocked in the early 20th century.

During this time period, women were also demanding their right to vote. Women had started this movement in the early 19th century, but with slow progress. Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote in 1890, and by 1918 women were legal to vote in 15 states. However, it was not until the Nineteenth Amendment was passed in 1920 that gave women the right nationally. Side note: It was ratified when Tennessee approved the measure by one vote, becoming the 36th state to pass it; the victory was ensured only after a 24-year-old legislator changed his previous vote at the request of his mother, who told him “to be a good boy.”

In 1964 the Twenty-fourth Amendment was adopted, prohibiting poll taxes in federal elections. The following year the Voting Rights Act was signed; this landmark legislation banned any effort to deny voting rights, such as literacy tests. In Mississippi alone, voter turnout amount Black people went from 6% in 1964 to 59% in 1969.

Please know and understand our history, and how long and hard so many people had to fight (often literally) for this right. Do vote, as there are millions around the world that are still denied this basic right that Americans have.

More Voting Resources

Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition According to the American Association of People with Disabilities, approximately 23% of the electorate this year will be voters with disabilities. If you’re a voter with disabilities in Wisconsin, here’s what you should know.

‘Sideline Dispatches’: Please Vote! I Will! Local CVpost piece by UW-Eau Claire Psychologist Emerita, Dr. Katherine Schneider.

VOTE411 Register to vote, find your polling place, ballot info, and more at

Rock the Vote Find all the deadlines, dates, requirements, registration options, and information on how to vote in your state.

Absentee Voting in Eau Claire If you are unable or unwilling to go to your voting site on Election Day, you may cast an absentee ballot. Note that there is no Absentee Voting on the Monday immediately before the election.

Early In-Person Voting City of Eau Claire residents can use the drive-thru service to vote by absentee ballot, return a completed absentee ballot, or register to vote.

Dates: Tuesday, October 20, 2020 through Friday, October 30, 2020
Hours: Monday through Thursday: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, October 24: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Latinx at the Library

During this month and throughout the year, library staff are working to improve access and develop more inclusive and equitable collections. National Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 through October 15 and I wanted to encourage folks to check out a book from one of the library’s Latinx booklists or a music title from the Latinx music list listed below.

Libraries need diversity in books and other library materials because they can expose us to the world and to people who are different from us. The Latinx lists bring together recent book titles concerning a Latinx experience from history, heritage, and accomplishments of Hispanic and Latino Americans of past and present. These selections are by or about the people, and shine a light on the rich cultural contributions we see in our modern lives. From memoirs to cooking to popular fiction, I sincerely hope you enjoy the range of topics and formats!

Books flying in the street

Book Festivals, 2020 Style

Two years ago, my sister invited me to go to the Twin Cities Book Festival with her. I’d never been to a book festival before, but I love books and festivals can be fun, so I decided to go.

The TCBF takes place in mid-October on the Minnesota State Fair grounds. In the Eco building, there was a gigantic used book sale and row upon row of exhibitors — authors, publishers, universities, librarians, all promoting books or services or programs. Many had small activities or free publications. A calligrapher was personalizing bookmarks.

The building was packed full of people who love books. It was like a Scholastic Book Fair, but with fewer sparkly pens and more people who want to geek out about literature. And that was just in the exhibit building.

Across the street in the Fine Arts building were the event stages. There, they had author readings, Q&A’s, panels, and activities. Unprepared as I was that first year, I didn’t have time to attend any of the events, though my sister stuck around for a discussion and book signing with YA authors Neal and Jarrod Shusterman.

Last year, I absolutely wanted to go again. I planned better and attended a discussion between William Kent Krueger and Leif Enger about the art of storytelling.

Attendee looking at books at book festivalThis year, like all other events, the Twin Cities Book Festival has had to adapt to the coronavirus. It’s their 20th year and, rather than cancelling, the TCBF is going virtual. They recently released the author lineup and there’s something for every age and interest.

Am I disappointed that I can’t physically attend? Yes. Are virtual events as exciting as in person events? Not at all. But I am glad that the festival wasn’t cancelled and I’m really looking forward to hearing from Kate DiCamillo.

There’s a silver lining, too. When I looked up the Twin Cities Book Festival, I discovered many other book festivals also transitioning to online platforms. This year, you can attend virtual literary events from all over the country. Have you ever wanted to attend New York Comic Con? They’ll be streaming four days of free panels live on YouTube. I also recommend checking out the Brooklyn Book Festival events this week. Plan ahead, though; while most book festivals are free, many are requiring pre-registration.

Like everyone, I’m tired of cancelling or adapting plans. I miss spontaneous weekend trips and seeing people’s faces. I hope that next year I can go back to the TCBF in person. In the meantime, though, I have lessons in pandemic cooking and Jedi mindfulness to attend.

Books Worth Re-Reading

Have you found yourself in a reading slump? If yes, you are not alone. When the quarantine first began, I initially thought that I would get so much reading accomplished. I was looking forward to all the books I was going to finish. But guess what? It didn’t happen. After talking to a co-worker about my reading slump, she let me in on a secret. I wasn’t alone. Finding the right book can be comforting so why not return to an old favorite? Here are a few books that I enjoy reading again and again. Share your favorites in the comments below.


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

Self-Care as Radical Action

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

I see you.

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

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

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