The Eau Claire public library's first residence, established in 1860, was a cupboard in the local corner store, with a membership charge of fifty cents[1] Several buildings housed the collection dedicated building as a home, including a Carnegie library built in 1904. The Carnegie library was used for 72 years, when a new library building was constructed across the street.[2] A portion of the funds were donated L.E. Phillips Charities, and the library was renamed the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.[3] The new library building served the citizens of Eau Claire well for over 30 years, but in the early 2000s, a proposal was made to update and expand the structure.



Library board passes a motion to start planning renovation

Uihlein-Wilson submits plans for a $3.9 million renovation

Library begins a capital campaign to raise funds

Capital campaign ends, with a total of $1.567 million raised


Board meets with architect to revise plans

Architectural revisions approved

Bids are solicited, reviewed, and awarded for construction, material moving, and furniture

Construction begins

Move Youth Services to lower level

Demolition of old fixtures begins in YS

Summer Library Program and Renovation Kick-Off Party

Shifting materials to make room for new microfilm room

Work in Circulation Services areas begins

Work on lower level Technical Services and Holds & Resource Sharing areas begins

Carpet and ceiling on the first floor will be removed and replaced

Circulation area is completed

TS and Circulation areas are finished

Installation of glass wall and tiled pillar features

Lois Barland Research Room is installed

All main projects are completed

Youth Services items are relocated to the first floor

Youth Services reopens

Grand Reopening Ceremony

Project description

The final project proposal focused on the 1,700 square foot expansion of the Youth Services area. The additional space was achieved by reorganizing the collection, and moving Circulation Services; there was no change to the building "footprint."[4]

Youth Services

The square footage of Youth Services increased by nearly thirty percent, taking over space vacated by moving the Circulation desk to another area. Nearly every aspect of the area was updated; highlights being the new program room, juvenile resource room, private study area, expanded computer terminals, and an early-childhood area. The new program room has nearly twice the seating capacity of the old room, with easily cleaned floors, plumbing for craft clean-up, and built-in audiovisual equipment.[5] The juvenile resource room houses circulating copies of what would traditionally be reference materials, including bibliographies, home-schooling textbooks, and encyclopedias. The study room, conveniently located next to the juvenile resource room, offers a private study area for youths. The early childhood area is dedicated to encouraging learning in small children, with "interactive and imaginative toys and manipulatives."[6]

Circulation Services

The existing circulation system included one long desk perpendicular to the entrance, which was used for check-in and account services. The holds shelved were behind the desk, as was the circulation workroom. The checkout desk was a separate, horseshoe-shaped desk. In order to make additional space for youth services, the entire circulation services area was moved to the opposite side of the entrance, the circulation workroom was moved around the corner from the new desk in an area that previously housed the audiovisual collection, the holds moved into a public space near the circulation desk, to enable patrons to gather their own holds.[7]

Microfilm & Genealogy

The microfilm and reader/printers were previously located in an alcove of the second floor, while the reference desk is located in the center of the first floor. Reference staff and patrons found it inconvenient to ask for help with microfilm. Through a generous donation from the Barland family, a genealogy research room was added to the to the reference area, located just behind the reference desk.

The Barland family was one of Eau Claire's founding families. Lois Barland was very interested in the city's history, and wrote two books called Sawdust City and The Rivers Flow On, providing information on the people, businesses and organizations that founded Eau Claire.

The Lois Barland Research Room is a

Architects and Contractor


Uihlein/Wilson - Architect
Architect Del Wilson worked directly with the LEPMPL library director and board members to create a renovation proposal. The initial proposal had an estimated project cost of $3.9 million. Once it was determined that the cost was a barrier, Uihlein-Wilson used feedback from the renovation committee and library board to revise the proposal to produce a final proposal with an estimated cost of $1.567 million.

RJS (Rueben Johnson & Son) - Contractor
RJS was awarded the construction bid in March of 2009. The company was responsible for overseeing the entire project, including the moving the collections, demolition and construction, ordering materials, and coordinating the subcontractors.


The original architect's proposal has an estimated project cost of $3.9 million. A capital campaign was created to raise funds, and a grant writer was contracted to pursue outside sources.[8] Since the focus of the renovation was to enhance and expand the Youth Services area, a penny drive was help to offer children in the library and local schools to contribute. The campaign raised well over $1 million. Part of the renovation included a Wall of Honor, to recognize the major contributors to both the capital campaign and the ongoing endowment fund.[9] However, almost two years into the campaign, the budget was still short $2.3 million.[10] The plans were revised to reduce the estimated cost to $1.567.

Contact information

John Stoneberg, Library Director
L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library
400 Eau Claire Street
Eau Claire, WI 54701



L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. (2009). Renovation update. [February 2009-November 2009].
  1. ^ Sullivan, K. & Nickel, L. (2010). The public library in Eau Claire, 1860-2009. Retrieved from
  2. ^ Westphal, C. (2011). New Library Building. Retrieved from
  3. ^ Westphal, C. (2011). New Library Building. Retrieved from
  4. ^ L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. (2009). Renovation 2009. [Brochure].
  5. ^ L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. (2009). Renovation 2009. [Brochure].
  6. ^ L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. (2009). Renovation 2009. [Brochure].
  7. ^ L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. (2009). Renovation 2009. [Brochure].
  8. ^ Westpahl, C. (2011). Renovation. Retrieved from
  9. ^ L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library. (2009). Renovation 2009. [Brochure]
  10. ^ Westpahl, C. (2011). Renovation. Retrieved from