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Closing the Book: Eau Claire Public Library Director Retires

after five years at L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Westby steps down to care for loved one

V1 Staff, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

CHECK IT OUT. Outgoing L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library Director Pamela Westby works at the library's Book Bike in this file photo.
CHECK IT OUT. Outgoing L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library Director Pamela Westby works at the library's BookBike in this file photo.

Pamela Westby has led the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire through numerous transformations and changes over the past five years – up to and including an ongoing multimillion-dollar expansion project to the landmark downtown library.

Now, she’s stepping down from her role, citing the illness of a loved one. According to a media announcement from the library, Westby officially retired Sept. 24. The library board plans to begin searching for a new director in the near future, and until one is hired, Deputy Director Shelly Collins-Fuerbringer will serve as acting director. 

“Recently I’ve found myself telling people that the library has gained enough momentum to sustain itself and to adapt along with the community’s ever-changing needs,” Westby said in the announcement. “I leave knowing that it is in good hands, with strong leadership and a professional staff that really cares about the people they serve. With so many challenges involving the library facility in the past, I believe the staff will be able to direct even more time and energy to providing responsive, vibrant service.”

Here’s the full announcement from the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library:


On September 24th, Pamela K. Westby retired from her position as Director of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire. This decision will allow her to care for a loved one with Parkinson’s disease, a long-term, progressive illness. The Library Board will begin a nationwide search for a new Director in the near future. In the interim, Deputy Director Shelly Collins-Fuerbringer will act as Director.

The library has made dramatic improvements and additions to its services under Westby’s direction. Highlights include:

• The BookBike.
• Books on Buses.
• Local author and artist collections.
• Sawdust City Sounds.
• Fines-Free policy.
• Completion of the library’s 2016–2021 Strategic Plan.
• Lending of Wi-Fi hotspots.
• Expansion of Dabble Box makerspace programs and outreach.
• The “One Book, One Community” reading program.
• Adding a licensed social worker and an early childhood literacy specialist to the staff.
• Winning the title “2019 Wisconsin Library of the Year,” awarded by the Wisconsin Library Association.
• Procuring $11.5M from the City of Eau Claire for urgent building repairs, and raising nearly $7M in private money to fund an expansion to the facility.
• Initiating popular new services like contact-free hold-pickup, online Storytime, and virtual reference services, all in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Relocating to a popular temporary location while construction is underway.

“Recently I’ve found myself telling people that the library has gained enough momentum to sustain itself and to adapt along with the community’s ever-changing needs,” says Westby. “I leave knowing that it is in good hands, with strong leadership and a professional staff that really cares about the people they serve. With so many challenges involving the library facility in the past, I believe the staff will be able to direct even more time and energy to providing responsive, vibrant service.”

Interim Director Shelly Collins-Fuerbringer has served as Interim Director once before after John Stoneberg’s retirement in 2016. She has worked at the library for 22 years, acting as Youth Services Manager for much of that time. She has been the Deputy Director of Public Service since March 2020.


To learn more about the library, its programs, and the ongoing construction project, visit www.ecpubliclibrary.info.