Chapter One: The Need is Real, the Time is Now

The L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library was built in 1976. Jimmy Carter was just elected. Gas was 59¢ per gallon. Diana Ross, ABBA, and Barry Manilow topped the music charts while One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Rocky ruled the box office. In the year when Apple Computer Company was born, the current L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library was built to meet the needs of Eau Claire’s 50,000 residents.  Over 40 years later, your public library operates in a building that was not designed to support the current 86,000 service population, the shifting role of public libraries, or the way in which technology has changed how we access information.

A Tale of Two Studies

The current library building poses many safety, environmental, and accessibility challenges. A 2017 Building Feasibility Study and Space Needs Analysis conducted by Zimmerman Architectural Studios, Inc. found that a number of systems are at their end of life. The same study also found that library space should increase from the current 61,000 sq. ft. to 102,000 sq. ft. to accommodate current usage and future growth.

An expansion to a total of 102,000 sq. ft. at the same time the renovation is taking place is projected to cost $8.5M. A Campaign Readiness Study conducted by Crescendo Fundraising Professionals, LLC. in 2018 determined that a $7M fundraising goal from private sources is attainable.

Library leadership and staff and the leaders of the Story Builder campaign are still hopeful that a total of $8.5M may be raised now to complete an expansion that will meet future needs. However, the pressing need to meet the demands of today is so great that an expansion plan incorporating two phases has been designed, with Phase I costing $7M if conducted in combination with the renovation.

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