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.

World map on two hands with doves flying into a blue sky with fluffy white clouds

Be the change you wish to see in the world

It’s time for a check in. It is a wonderful time for us to remind ourselves that we are all on a journey to better understanding ourselves and others. This is the journey we are all on, living and learning throughout life. I believe that the library can be an integral part of this journey for each and every person, here is why.

This last weekend I was reflecting on the wonderful opportunity to observe Juneteenth. Juneteenth is meant to be a day of jubilation, a day to celebrate significant turning point for the rights of people who are racially black in the United States. It is also meant to be a day to honor and remember those who have been lost or had their lives disrupted by enslavement. Lastly, it is a day for us to ignite action in individuals to make changes. Action, it is a word of intention, of movement, and change. Yes, there has been so many things that have progressed, but there is still a long ways to go and you can be a part of it.

Today I encourage you to take time to set intentions to first seek to understand before seeking to be understood. This may seem simple, but it takes putting ourselves aside for a moment to better hear and understand others and that can be a really hard skill. We can do this by being intentional about our listening, and focusing not on our own thoughts or responses while we take time to listen to others.

Next, I encourage you to consider that individuals are experts in their own lives. How do we best learn from these experts? By listening, reading, and talking to others about their stories. Pick up a book from an author that is of a different background than yourself, go someplace new that might challenge you to meet new people, or have a conversation with a friend about something new you learned. We can take steps regularly to expose ourselves to new ideas and new people. Here are some programs through the library that might help you find something to enhance your journey.

One Book, One Community https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/onebook/

Tough Topics Book Club https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/toughtopics

Anti-Racism Resources and Book Lists https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/antiracism/tools/2021

Diversify Your Reading Challenge https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/challenge/

Today I encourage you to take a moment and set intentions. Take a moment and consider one step that you can take to move forward in your journey. Right now I am striving to be a better listener and learner about other’s stories, and how I can be a part of the change. Will you join me?

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 PFLAG.org’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!

 

Untouched by COVID-19

I really do feel a bit guilty. The past several months have been such a terror for so much of the world, and our country. Now India is again in a terrible situation.

With 163 plus million cases worldwide, and 3.38 plus millions of deaths, hundreds of millions out of work, millions of businesses closed, school children way behind, and so much of life missed. Not being able to see loved ones in nursing homes? Not being able to be with them on their deathbed? These are just unimaginable to me.

So why do I feel guilty? Because this terrible disease that has touched so many has not really touched me personally. My wife and I were blessed that we know of not a single person hospitalized, nor died, from COVID-19. It did not affect me financially, as my wife’s job is secure, and my library position allowed me to work from home while closed. Shoot, I even got out of working nights and weekends!

Raising children is hard enough. Now add schools closing, most after-school sports and activities canceled, virtual classes, homeschooling, mask mandates, and just the fear of it all had to be terrible for students. For you parents that got your kids through this, and keeping your sanity, bless your hearts. I salute you all!

But certainly good news the past few months. Vaccinations are way up, cases and deaths are way down. Things in the United States are opening once again, including our wonderful library. For those who do not know this, our temporary location is on the south side of Eau Claire, where we took over half of the United Health Care building at 2725 Mall Drive. For the first time in over a year, we are welcoming customers without an appointment.

As of now, the hours are a bit different. Mondays and Wednesdays, 4 to 8 p.m.  Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and once again Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We are not open Sundays during the summer months. Our library management team took months preparing to move, finding another location, and taking the necessary steps to move the entire collection of books, DVDs, CDs, and more. I missed our regular customers, and am eager to see you all again.

So come see us! Without a mask if you are fully vaccinated, and feel safe to do so. The pictures tell you we look like a real library!

Questions? Please call the Reference Team at 715-839-5004, email us at librarian@eauclaire.lib.wi.us. Hope to see you soon!

National Library Week, April 4 – 10

This week is National Library Week. It is a time to celebrate all the wonderful things our local library does for our community. As we look back on the last 12 months, the staff of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library has done amazing things to keep the community engaged in using the library.

Each day over the last year I have had the opportunity to watch the library staff develop new and innovative ways to keep library services available to the public. Youth Services took storytime to Facebook, the Reference staff has worked with the public to get tax forms through the library’s Park and Pick Up system, the Circulation staff has mastered Park and Pick Up so that the public can still enjoy reading books at home, and Home Delivery has worked with its customers to make sure those that rely on that service are still able to receive library materials, along with many other things.

So I encourage the community to thank the staff of the library for all their dedication to this community during this time. Share with the staff what your favorite resource is at the library, or what you love the most about the library. We truly have an amazing library and staff.

Stacy Yearous
Program and Development Coordinator
Friends of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library

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!

Rosa Parks at the front of a classroom speaking to students

Black History Reads

While February and Black History Month comes to end this week, it’s never too late to dive into the rich literature about many important African Americans who have helped shape our nation. Officially being recognized in the United States in 1976 by President Gerald Ford, Black History Month is a time to celebrate the endless contributions in politics, education, entertainment, etc. by African Americans.

For the Chippewa Valley, one of our proudest achievements is having the legendary Hank Aaron play in Eau Claire. Assigned to the team in 1952, Aaron played for the Eau Claire Bears before eventually moving up to the major leagues to play for the Milwaukee Braves. He would go on to break the long-standing home run record by Babe Ruth, which he would then hold for another 33 years. Our library has some great reads about Hank Aaron, you can check out A Summer Up North or a whole host of others.

For more Black History Month reads, check out these links for suggestions:

Black History Month: A reading list of books by Black UCLA faculty

Ten Books to Read during Black History Month

Black History Month Reads

2021 Black History Month

14 books to read during Black History Month

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 reference@eauclaire.lib.wi.us.

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 libbyr@eauclaire.lib.wi.us.

Give a Kid a Book

Today I was thankful for the book my son received from his school for us to be able to read together. As Thanksgiving gets closer I am finding myself looking for more and more things to be thankful for. These last few months have been challenging for the entire community, but one thing I am thankful for is the wonderful volunteers within the Friends of the Library organization that were determined to continue the tradition of its annual Give a Kid a Book Program. The COVID-19 pandemic that we are all living with was not going to stop our volunteers from making sure that kids received books this holiday season. We knew the need was going to be great, but our volunteers are up for the challenge.

The Friends’ mission statement includes encouraging literacy and this program supports that point to a “T”. Each year it is a goal to get new books into the hands of all children in need by partnering with agencies in the area. The planning for this program starts in the fall as we reach out to agencies to find out what their needs will be for this holiday season. Then as donations start coming in our volunteers purchase, sort, and box up thousands of boxes to be distributed to the agencies. All with the hope to provide a child with the opportunity to fall in love with reading.

There is still plenty of time to get involved with the 2020 Give a Kid a Book campaign. Here are three ways you can help support this program. Questions? Please call 715.831.5301 or email friendsofthelibrary@eauclaire.lib.wi.us

  1. Contribute monetarily. The easiest way to support this program in 2020. Checks can be made payable to Friends of the LEPMPL and mailed to:
    Friends of LEPMPL
    Attn: GAKAB
    400 Eau Claire St.
    Eau Claire, WI 54701
    Give online at https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/friends/programs/give-a-kid-a-book/
  2. Participate in Books-A-Million’s (BAM) Holiday Book Drive October 25 – December 13.
  3. Donate new, unwrapped children’s books. Donations can be dropped off at the Volume One Local Store, 205 N. Dewey St. Eau Claire.

Fiction & non-fiction books for ages 6-18
Picture books for ages 2-5
Board or cloth books for babies
Audiobooks for all ages

“I think it is the books that you read when you’re young that live with you forever” – J.K. Rowling

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!