Sunday, March 22, 2015

311. L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire, WI

After four small town libraries, here I am at the big time! I should stop here later in the year when the world is green and take a picture to show how the building maximizes the river view. In brief, the outside walls are lined with windowed alcoves that have varied seating for about four people each. Even without a sunny, green, river view it was clear that these spaces are popular, as each one had at least one patron.

In several places I saw some unusual seating, square-ish upholstered chairs separated by tables and with reading lamps with Tiffany-esque shades. In one place there were four, I think, of these chairs in a row. These fit very nicely where they are, and I wondered if they might be from an older building.

A wall display honors donors to the Capital Campaign, Endowment Fund, and Special Gifts. The many names listed here, and (on a different scale) the adoption of shelves by patrons, suggest a library that is appreciated by its community.

A lot of specialized technology is in the glass-walled Lois Barland Room, dedicated to genealogic research, near a cabinet filled with microfilm copies of census records, old newspapers, etc. A sign I like says "Did you know? Print Preview lets you see...." Every library computer that has access to a printer should have this sign! Another sign says that the first ten pages per day of printouts are free. I assumed that this was for genealogy materials only, but I later saw signs that make me think it is overall library policy--and a very generous policy it is, one that I have never seen before.

At the top of the stairs is a cart for "materials you do not wish to check out." Carts like this help a lot in keeping shelves tidy and in order.

A Young Adult Lounge has large windows, computers, and a collection of young adult non-fiction. In my experience it's somewhat unusual to have a separate YA collection of non-fiction, but I can see that it makes sense.

The general non-fiction collection is on shelves that are numbered, labeled with Dewey numbers, and captioned. Shelf 75, for example, holds Non-fiction 782 - 787 and 787 to 791, and is labeled "Music Movies TV Theater." I was intrigued to see that Manga are shelved as 741.5952, not in a separate area. Seating areas in the non-fiction part of the library are designated as "Quiet Areas" -- no cell phone use and only brief conversations.

Back downstairs I found the large children's area. Separate shelves hold J Large Print books, more than I usually see, and collections of award-winning books. A windowed area for browsing has four upholstered chairs, two love seats, and shelves with 24 juvenile periodical titles. The "stacks" in this area are labeled with Dewey numbers but not with topics as in the adult stacks; that might be a nice addition. Kids can check out games to play in the library, but their cards will be held until they return the game in good order!

Moving toward the area for younger children, I liked the mirrors on the wall near the librarian's desk with suggestions about making a happy face, sad face, and so forth. The Play and Learn area has a long, wavy counter by the windows, a barn, dollhouse, and store for creative play, and a suggestion that parents can check out, for an hour, an iPad loaded with early literacy apps. In addition to being fun, I can see this modeling for parents the kinds of apps that are appropriate for young kids.

Fourteen computers are available for kids at a two-sided counter along a wall with windows to the interior of the library.

The library was hosting the ArtsWest 36 show, which had many interesting pieces in varied media, including one of "cut paper and baking soda" which was very intriguing!

For more about this library, go to or visit them on Facebook at

3/20/2015, car

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