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Library Plans Big (But Temporary) Move

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library signs lease for two temporary spaces

A rendering of what the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library will look like after a planned remodeling and expansion project. (Submitted image)
A rendering of what the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library will look like after a planned remodeling and expansion project. (Submitted image)

With virtual programs, drive-through book pick-up, and other adaptations, public libraries in the Chippewa Valley have demonstrated enormous flexibility in reaching their patrons over the past few months.

The L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in Eau Claire recently announced another big (but not permanent) change: Beginning in May, the library will relocate temporarily when its long-awaited, $18.5 million reconstruction and expansion project begins. The library announced in December that it has signed leases to move into two temporary spaces on Mall Drive when the expansion project kicks off. The larger of the two sites, 2725 Mall Drive, will be used “for all public services, including in-person collection browsing and materials pick up/drop off, as well as office space,” a library media release stated.

The building, which will be leased from Greenpoint Properties, is partially occupied by United Health. A second site at 2615 Mall Drive (formerly Pawn America), also leased from Greenpoint Properties, will be used mostly for collection storage. After the existing library at 400 Eau Claire St. is vacated by May 1, a roughly 14-month reconstruction project will begin. Plans include the addition of a third floor, offering more programming place, a drive-through window, an expanded DIY space, a new “innovation lab,” upgraded study rooms, new display space, and much more. The library is expected to reopen in the fall of 2022.

The entire project will cost an estimated $18.5 million, including $11.5 million (already budgeted by the City of Eau Claire) for mechanical systems upgrades to the 44-year-old building. The remaining $7 million will come from private sources via the library’s Story Builder fundraising campaign. Roughly $4 million has been raised already, the library said. More information about the library’s Story Builder campaign can be found at www.ecpubliclibrary.info/storybuilder.

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