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News Development

EC Library Starts Construction, Announces In-Person Services Will Resume Mid-May

expansion plans include new third-floor, expanded art gallery, usable green space, and accessible drive-thru

Rebecca Mennecke |

LIBRARIANS GONE ROGUE. At an April 28 media briefing, representatives of the library reconstruction project gathered to break ground on the project – and that meant taking some sledgehammers to the main floor walls. 
LIBRARIANS GONE ROGUE. At an April 28 media briefing, representatives of the library reconstruction project gathered to break ground on the project – and that meant taking some sledgehammers to the main floor walls. 

On April 28, the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library officially broke ground on its $18.5 million renovation and expansion project, which will add a new third-floor event space, expanded Dabble Box makerspace area, modernized study rooms, redesigned shelving and improved spacing between shelving to offer “unprecedented physical access,” and a new drive-up window for pickup and drop-off services – among many other amenities. 

“We’re finally putting to play all these plans we’ve been working on over the years,” said Bob Eierman, Story Builder campaign co-chair and president of the library board. 

We have been totally, absolutely overwhelmed by the community's support and generosity.

Bob eierman

president of L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library board

Eierman announced that between public funding ($11.5 million) and the Story Builder campaign ($6,343,226), the project has reached 96.5% of its $18.5 million goal. This includes more than 600 donations from local individuals and organizations. 

“We have been totally, absolutely overwhelmed by the community’s support and generosity,” Eierman said, adding that the library plans to continue fundraising efforts for the remaining $651,773.

The library located at 400 Eau Claire St. looks pretty empty...
The library located at 400 Eau Claire St. looks pretty empty... (Photo via Facebook)

People interested in donating to the Story Builder campaign, which helps fund the library’s renovation and expansion project, can visit www.ecpubliclibrary.info/storybuilder

Library Deputy Director Kimberly Hennings also announced that the library’s new temporary location at 2725 Mall Drive in Eau Claire will be “unpausing” in-person services mid-May, meaning Eau Clairians will not need an appointment to browse materials and use library services. Safety guidelines and more information will be available on the library’s website. 

Photo via Facebook
Photo via Facebook

Construction on the 400 Eau Claire St. location will begin in the coming days using Eau Claire’s Market & Johnson as the project’s contractor, joining the library’s other major partners, architects MSR Design, and philanthropic partner in the Eau Claire Community Foundation, according to a media release. 

“It’s a chance to say goodbye for the library as we know it,” said Mike Paulus, the library’s digital services and marketing specialist, “and it’s a time to prepare for the exciting transformation to come: the upcoming reconstruction and design to both expand and enhance our space, but one thing will never change, and that’s that the library will always be the heart of the city.” 

The process of unboxing and unpacking over 150,000 books
The process of unboxing and unpacking over 150,000 books is no easy task, especially since the original library location boasts  60,000 square feet of space, while the library's temporary location at 2725 Mall Drive has 35,000 square feet. (Photo via Facebook)

Keep up to date with the renovation project’s progress at www.ecpubliclibrary.info