Happy Earth Day, Everyone!

In the weeks leading up to Earth Day, I’ve been watching a lot of nature documentaries. In addition to conditioning myself to trust everything David Attenborough says, I’ve gained a renewed appreciation for all the wonderful and weird things that exist in nature. If you enjoy the Planet Earth series, keep an eye out for the BBC’s newest wildlife mini-series; Dynasties dedicates an entire episode each to five well-known endangered species. This focus goes nicely with the Earth Day Network’s 2019 theme: Protect Our Species.

Earth Day is 49 years old this year (expect a big 50th Anniversary event in 2020). The annual observance started in 1970 as a protest against pollution and environmental deterioration. There was massive participation in rallies all over the country, kick-starting some impressive political change. The following months saw the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and major amendments to the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, all before the end of the year.

Since that first year, Earth Day has expanded into a global event, observed by more than 1 billion people in 192 countries. As the world and its environmental concerns change, so does the focus of the Earth Day Network. These days, their main concerns are dealing with the impacts of climate change, ending plastic pollution, and protecting endangered species.

People celebrate Earth Day in many ways. Some easy things you can do to be a bit greener today (or any day) include investing in a reusable water bottle or coffee mug, replacing old lightbulbs with energy efficient ones, using reusable grocery bags, planting a vegetable garden, and walking, biking, or using public transportation. Eau Claire Transit is providing free bus rides on all routes today, April 22.

Though Earth Day is a great day to reduce your impact on the planet, it also has the greater long-term goal of effecting lasting change. To learn about ways you can live greener all year or get involved in protecting our planet, go to https://www.epa.gov/earthday or https://www.earthday.org/

Let’s talk about early literacy, specifically Books for Babies!

According to United for Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, “Early literacy (reading and writing) does not mean early reading instruction or teaching babies to read; it is the natural development of skills through the enjoyment of books, the importance of positive interactions between babies and parents, and the critical role of literacy-rich experiences. Literacy development begins at birth and is closely linked to a baby’s earliest experiences with books and stories. Babies learn language through social literacy experiences – parents interacting with them using books. These experiences also serve to associate books with parental affection, attention, and approval”.

Over the last 20 years, research has shown that early literacy is a proven indicator of child readiness to enter school. According to Literacy Volunteers, “Between 11-14% of the 2,000 residents of the Chippewa Valley function at the lowest level of literacy, Level 1. This inability to function in modern society is a significant cause of poverty for many Chippewa Valley families struggling to support themselves”.

As an avid reader myself, I still remember the joy of my mom reading one of my favorite books to me as a very young child. I was truly blessed to have parents that believed in the importance of introducing me to the joy of reading as early as possible. Disney and pop-up books were my favorites as a child, but my reading history spans many, many authors and all genres. I am happy to report that my love of the written word still continues today and I’m sure it was because I was introduced to books as a baby! I also believe that is why I am so passionate about the importance of early literacy.

Books for Babies kit

So it’s no surprise that one of my favorite programs the Friends of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library offer to the community is the Books for Babies program. The purpose of the program is to acquaint parents of newborns with the crucial role that books and reading play in their child’s cognitive and behavioral development. Since 2014, the Friends have been providing Baby Literacy Kits to area hospitals. Last year, a total of 1,775 Books for Babies kits were delivered to HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, Mayo Clinic Health System and Marshfield Clinic. That number included 48 bilingual Spanish/English books. Each kit includes a high quality board book, information on why it is essential to read to a baby, a free one-year membership to the Friends of the Library, baby’s first library card application and a finger-play booklet.

We have had wonderful feedback from both the recipients and the hospital staff:

“I was so excited about receiving this book after I had my baby. There’s something about reading your new baby her first book. It not only creates a bond between parent and child, but starts a lifelong love of reading which is so important.”

Rachael and baby Evalyn (photo seen at top of post)
Books for Babies recipients

“I think this is a really great program and gets parents thinking about the library and reading right from the start. Thank you so much for including us in this program!”

Robin Miller, RNC-OB, BSN
Nurse Manager | Birthing Center
Marshfield Medical Center – Eau Claire

“We receive a lot of positive feedback regarding your program. We greatly appreciate all you do for our new families and hope that it can continue!”

Heather Hamilton, M.S.N., R.N.
Mayo Clinic Health System

There’s a lot of work involved to make the program successful. The Friends have a wonderful group of volunteers who donate their time to make Books for Babies thrive. With the help of the Books for Babies Chairperson, Linda Stelter, the volunteers meet once a month for approximately two hours to assemble kits. Prior to the volunteer session, supplies are inventoried, copies are made of any materials currently running low and orders are placed for materials and books that we do not reproduce in-house. Once the kits are ready to go, the library’s gracious employee, Duane Huffmier, loads the kits into the library van and delivers them to the hospitals. Of course, our work does not stop there. We are constantly looking for new, suitable baby books that are within our budget and volunteers as committed as we are to early literacy programs. Staff, board members, and our committed team of volunteers are continually brainstorming different fundraising opportunities to ensure that this amazing program continues for many years to come! Happy reading!

ArtsWest 40

On Thursday, April 11, local artists and art enthusiasts will gather for the artist reception of Wisconsin ArtsWest, the fortieth annual juried art exhibit sponsored by the library. 

The first ArtsWest show opened in September 1979.  With ArtsWest Two in April 1981, it became a spring show and has been held annually since then.  Since its inception, ArtsWest had provided a venue for thousands of artists to exhibit their talent and creativity, as well as the opportunity for everyone in the community to experience and support the arts in a uniquely personal way.

Image courtesy of Matthew Bailey

This year, 139 artists from 28 communities submitted 220 to be judged for entry into the show. The jurors for the exhibit are husband and wife team, Franklin and Lynn Zetzman.  The couple met while they were attending UW–Eau Claire.  Lynn Zetzman is the director of the Aylward Gallery, UW–Fox Valley, while Frank Zetzman currently teaches studio courses at the same university.

Cash awards for the artists were inaugurated in 1984.  Prizes for ArtsWest 40 will be selected in person by the jurors prior to the artist reception held on Thursday, April 11.

The exhibit may be seen in the gallery and throughout the library through April March 31 during the library’s regular hours:  10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Successful Learning

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” —Benjamin Franklin

For many people, the word “learning” suggests passively listening to lectures or reading textbooks. This is especially true for those of us who were mainly educated in traditional classrooms. As it turns out, participating in your own learning may be easier, more convenient, and more fun than you think. There are plenty of opportunities to gain a new skill or discover fresh ideas about the world around you through active learning—starting at your library.

Programs at the public library in Eau Claire are most often based on participation. Involvement can lead to a higher success rate in learning about both new and familiar topics. The library designs programs to help participants connect with others in the community, learn stuff, and engage with experts. This emphasis on engagement supplies encouragement and inspiration to be the very best you can be.

Throughout the year, L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library hosts programs about topics of interest in our community, and those topics are as diverse as our neighbors themselves. This month, they include an interactive poetry event (“Writers’ Read,” a salute to the beat generation), a hands-on workshop on finding reliable health information online (“Health Online”), a horticulture class (“Hydrangeas 101”), and a make-and-take crafting session for adults (“Sashay Scarf”). Visit www.ecpubliclibrary.info/calendar to learn more, and to browse all library programs by intended age group and interest. By learning actively, you’ll have better long-term outcomes and more fun.

Speaking of having fun, check out this upcoming program: “Books & Beasts.” It’s a pop-up adoption event and book sale taking place from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 9. Volunteers from the Eau Claire County Humane Association will bring animals to meet potential adoptive pet parents, and the Friends of the Library will offer animal-themed books for sale.

Every day is a new chance for learning and success. Now, go get it!

Tree canopy from the ground

Growing Up

Whether or not you garden, it’s a great time to start thinking about growing trees and shrubs.

Cornus sericea

The red bark of Cornus sericea, Red Osier Dogwood, makes it a popular ornamental.

Many counties in the area have tree and shrub sales at the year’s start. These are opportunities to acquire low-cost, native trees and shrubs for shade, wood, fruit, or nuts. You’ll generally need to commit to a bundle of plants—10, 25, or even 50—which is enough to create a hedge, organize a class project, or split plants with friends and neighbors. To use these programs, place an order before the deadline (all programs are first-come, first-served) and pick up your plants later in spring, usually mid-April.

County Deadline Notes
Buffalo January 31 Trees
Chippewa March 30 Trees, shrubs
Eau Claire January 31 Trees, shrubs, plants
Pepin April 5 Trees, shrubs
Trempealeau March 1 Trees, shrubs

Other options for low-cost trees include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources if you’re using trees for conservation purposes or joining The Arbor Day Foundation to receive 10 trees with your membership. Your city may also have a program to plant shade trees in the boulevard, that strip of grass between the sidewalk and the road: In the City of Eau Claire, residents can apply for a rebate for costs incurred in planting approved trees.

Prunus tomentosa

Prunus tomentosa, Nanking Cherry, is a hardy shrub bearing edible fruit.

After deciding on what to plant, you’ll also want to check if your city provides free mulch or compost. City of Eau Claire residents can collect both at the Eau Claire Green Waste Facility starting mid-April. Locations that recycle holiday trees in your area are another place to investigate.

The MORE online catalog has a number of resources to answer questions you have about growing trees and shrubs. We’d also be happy to assist you at Information & Reference in locating or ordering books or DVDs to help you care for your new additions.

Boy with book, laughing

Give a Kid a Book

I have always enjoyed the feeling of opening a brand new book. The crisp, untouched pages, vibrant colors that just pop and fresh ink and new paper smell that hits your nose before you even open it. There is something magical knowing that no one else has ever witnessed the adventures in your brand new book. Many children in need, however, do

Memorial High School students delivering their donations to the library

not get to experience this joy. They are used to hand me down books; battered, torn, dog-eared…very well loved. There is nothing wrong with these books, my shelves are full of them. But to give these children in the Eau Claire area the opportunity to experience owning a brand new book that they can call their own, the Friends of the L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library has hosted the Give a Kid a Book project for the past 24 years during the holiday season. This book drive collects new and unwrapped books and then distributes them to local agencies, like the Salvation Army and Boys and Girls Club of the Chippewa Valley, who in turn give them to children in their programs.

For the past two years, I have volunteered at the Toys for Tots event at the Salvation Army. Parents can select which brand new book they think their child would like to receive for Christmas because of the donations from the Give a Kid a Book project. I have witnessed the excitement the parents share when they have found the perfect book they want to gift to their child. The generosity of the community allows a wide selection of quality books that may not be found other times of the year. We appreciate the support of donors and volunteers and there are many ways you can help with Give a Kid a Book to ensure that every child receives their perfect, new book this holiday season!

1. Donate new, unwrapped children’s books and deliver them to the library: 

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

    Give a Kid a Book volunteers sorting books to be delivered to agencies.

2. Let us shop for you!

  • Mail your check to:

                        Friends of LEPMPL

                        Attn: GAKAB

                        400 Eau Claire St.

                        Eau Claire, WI 54701

3. Drop off books at The Chippewa Valley Writers Guild event, “Joy to the Word: An Evening Of Songs, Stories, Humbug And Holiday Cheer,” on December 18 at 7 p.m. at the Pablo Center at the Confluence.

4. Participate in Books-A-Million’s (BAM) holiday book drive Nov. 4 – Dec. 15.

5. Volunteer to shop, sort or deliver books at https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/friends/programs/give-a-kid-a-book/ or email friendsofthelibrary@eauclaire.lib.wi.us


National Friends of the Library Week

October 21-27 is National Friends of the Library Week which makes me reflect upon the time I’ve served on the Friends board. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside many talented and dedicated volunteers and library staff who believe in the power of libraries to change lives and are working to ensure our library’s future.

I used to think about volunteering but was overwhelmed with all the choices and the worthy organizations. There are so many groups that could use my help, how to choose? How can I make a real difference? Then I heard Peg Leinenkugel speak about public service and how important it is to give back. She said she had the same dilemma and one day she just decided to start somewhere, start with one cause and do whatever small thing she could, even if it was just one hour. She found that doing that changed her life and her community.

About eight years ago I took Peg’s advice and picked something. Public libraries have been a huge part of my life: from childhood summer reading programs, to part time work at the library as a student, to attending adult reading and educational programs. So I tried a few things.

After one shift, I realized I don’t want to help with the book sale. Don’t get me wrong! I deeply appreciate all the hard work that’s put into the book sales which helps provide over $20,000 a year to enhance library services. The hours of work that go into each one and the teamwork by so many is amazing! Working with used books stirs up my allergies and I’m too tempted to bring strays home. These are the same reasons I don’t volunteer for the Humane Association.

Next I tried serving drinks at a library event.  Let’s just say there’s a reason my career as a waitress lasted only one week.

Then one night I got a call asking if I’d be willing to serve on the Friends’ Board as secretary. What does the secretary do? Take the official notes at meetings. Anyone who has worked with me knows I can type as fast as people talk. If there are questions at work about what was said, it’s not uncommon to hear a call to ‘check Brenda’s notes’. This gig was tailor made for me! I was nervous at the first meeting but quickly realized that my fellow Board members love the library as much as I do and are working to provide the best for it.

Over time I’ve found other ways to volunteer for the Friends. Serving on the Board has also enhanced my career by giving me opportunities to develop leadership skills. But more important than what volunteering does for me, I know my efforts have helped the library that I love fulfill its mission and ensure its future.

I could go on and on but the point is, if you’ve been thinking about volunteering but aren’t sure where to start, just try something. National Friends of the Library week is a perfect time to explore all the volunteering opportunities available. Check out https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/friends/ for all the programs and if you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact Jamie Claudio, Friends’ administrative assistant, at friendsofthelibrary@eauclaire.lib.wi.us.

You never know what you will gain from it, but you can be sure the library will benefit from your efforts, no matter how small you may think they are.Sales Fulfillment Team

Fall Is the Season for Reading

Fall Is the Season for Reading

CVBF 2017 audienceIn the fall an avid reader’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of books. With due apology to Alfred, Lord Tennyson for mangling his musings on spring, I can’t help but think my observation is more universally apt. As the days draw in and the weather turns cool, my longing to be curled up in a bright, cozy place with a new book or old favorite (and a cat or two) grows stronger. But before I commit completely to my reader’s hibernation period, I’ll be taking the opportunity to celebrate the beginning of the reading season by taking in some of the events at this year’s Chippewa Valley Book Festival (CVBF). The festival consists of twenty events over ten days, October 15 through October 25, and this year’s crop of authors is spectacular. (Did someone say “Caroline Fraser, author of Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder, 2018 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Biography; buy your $10 tickets now while supplies last?” I could’ve sworn I heard someone say that.) In fact, I could rave about this author lineup much longer than you might wish to hear, so perhaps you should check it out for yourself at www.cvbookfest.org.

ecWIT at CVBF 2017Saturday, October 20 will be a full day of free, drop-in CVBF programming at the library. Book sales and autographing sessions will take place after each event. The library is proud to host presentations by Miriam Karmel, author of Subtle Variations and Other Stories, Leah Weiss, author of If the Creek Don’t RisePeter Geye, author of Wintering, and Patricia McConnell, author of The Education of Will. For long-standing fans of Wisconsin Public Radio, yes! That Patricia McConnell: engaging co-host of the weekly call-in show Calling All Pets on which she and the inimitable Larry Meiller provided entertainment and education for almost 14 years. It’s been a decade since the show was cancelled and I still feel a little bereft. (“Speak, Meiller; speak. Good boy, Meiller!” Best banter ever.) Then, to conclude a day of literary fun, Eau Claire’s own ecWIT (Eau Claire Women in Theater) will perform “Prose and Poetry Alive,” a performance medley of selections from this year’s CVBF authors.

And that’s not all! Wednesday, October 24 William Kent Krueger, author of the Cork O’Connor mystery series, will be at the library to discuss the transformative power of stories. In addition, the library will be supporting the festival’s mission to inspire young writers by playing host to a writing workshop with Mitali Perkins on Wednesday, October 17 as part of the Authors in the Schools program. If you are (or know) a young writer age 10 to 18, register today by calling 715-839-5007. Space is limited!

I for one am looking forward to adding some inspiration to my winter reading list at the Chippewa Valley Book Festival. Hope to see you there!

Happy Birthday, Harry!

I admit it, I wasn’t a huge fan of Harry Potter when the series first debuted in America 20 years ago on September 1, 1998.  To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t even aware it existed until around the time the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released.  I was “too grown up” to be bothered to spend my nearly-adult time reading about tween wizards.  It wasn’t until I was a library science student in the mid-2000s that I decided to see what the fuss was all about.  However, it didn’t take long (just a few chapters) for me to realize I was going to be a Potterhead for life.

Over a decade later, I’m still a fan.  I listen to the series on audiobook (Jim Dale is the best narrator of all time, in my opinion) and my husband and I watch the film series at least a few times a year.  My daughter, Cate, was introduced to the first film around the time of her first birthday, and I’m looking forward to reading the books with her when she gets a little older.

Why am I reminiscing about HP? Well, “Hogwarts After Dark” is returning for a second year and the library will be hosting a grown-up celebration of all things Harry Potter on Saturday, September 22 from 7 to 10 p.m.  This after-hours event for 21+ and will give long-time Harry Potter fans a sneak peek of the famous wizarding school.  “Early Owl” tickets cost $12 and are available now through September 21 at afterdarkec.org. Tickets will also be available for $15 at the door; cash only.

Last year, over 300 Potterheads gathered together to indulge in revelry unseen since Voldemort’s defeat. Popular activities returning this year include “magical” creatures from the Eau Claire County Humane Association, goods from local artisans in “Diagon Alley,” a Horcrux scavenger hunt, a Sorting Hat roast by Clear Water Comedy, themed crafts in the Dabble Box, and transfiguration by TG Makeup & Hair. New magical offerings will include a NEWT-level trivia contest and divination prophecies from a practicing seer. Bewitching brews and muggle food will be available for purchase.

This fundraising event is provided in partnerships with the Friends of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Chippewa Valley Museum, and Paul Bunyan Logging Camp Museum.  Many thanks to event sponsors Clear Water Comedy, Converge Radio, the Eau Claire County Humane Association, Park Ridge Distributing, Inc., TG Makeup & Hair, and Volume One.

If you are a Harry Potter fan, aged 21 and up, I hope to see you there, and I’d love to learn more about how you came to love the series!


Writing Right

Having recently completed a wonderful writing retreat offered through the Chippewa Valley Writer’s Guild, I feel inclined to share my experience and some writing tips with our library blog readers.

051A2003.jpgFirst, about the experience. (Pst, skip ahead if you’d like to get to the tips.) The writing retreat, run by BJ Hollars and the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild, was located at Cirenaica just outside of Fall Creek, WI. It’s a cozy cabin in the woods with a comfy deck and a firepit to commune around in the evenings. The wonderful writer-in-residence was Lindsay Starck, author of Noah’s Wife, and our guest speaker was the talented Eric Rasmussen. Eight other writers besides me were housed here where we spent long, wonderful hours perfecting our craft and then workshopping our pieces in a large group discussion in the afternoons. With delicious food, enjoyable company, diverse writing experience and interests, and a peaceful environment difficult to find elsewhere, it was an experience to remember. 

As for the resources for writers, I have both internal and external resources listed. I was recently introduced to a digital resource I was unaware we had access to.
Biblioboard is a wonderful tool to discover and read local authors’ works. Their work is provided either partially or entirely for free in an ebook format. All Wisconsin residents are eligible for perusing or submitting their own work through their local library.

We also, of course, carry a variety of physical resources for those writers looking for a little help.Related image
The 070.5s are an outstanding resource for anyone looking into publishing their material.
The 808s have a great variety of writing guides and information.
The Writer magazine provides many motivational articles and tips for streamlining your writing process.
Writer’s Digest, available via the Indianhead Federated Library System, is one of the longest-running writing magazines out there and is a must-read for writers.

Other digital resources are a must as well. Here’s a few to help you out.
Grammarly is one of the most amazing tools that I only recently started using. It provides grammar and punctuation suggestions for your writing for free but offers a highly advanced upgrade as well. Where was this app during my undergrad!?
Pressbooks is a self-publishing tool for publishing ebooks. Important to note, Biblioboard is connected to Pressbooks. Offers upgraded pro versions with more features.
Kindle Createspace is a popular self-publishing tool used by many authors who are looking to get out there on their own. It offers ebooks and physical books as well. Runs on a royalty model.
Lulu is yet another publishing option offering free services including ebook and physical book options.
The Most Dangerous Writing App is really more of a novelty for most. I know my writing style does not meld with this concept at all, but maybe some of you would find it helpful. It’s fun to play around with.