“Books and ‘Beasts’” event brings puppies and bunnies to local library

An event to advertise the new reading program and the furry friends from the humane society

Tiana Kuchta

More stories from Tiana Kuchta


Photo by Gabbie Henn

Some serious puppy dog eye action going on at L.E. Phillip Memorial Library’s “Books and ‘Beasts'” event.

Bunnies. Puppies. Books. One of these is not like the other.

Not at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Library, where they hosted a “Books and ‘Beasts’” event in a joint effort with the Eau Claire Humane Association to raise awareness for the library’s new IditaREAD winter reading program and promote adoption for the Humane Association.

Robin Knopp, who has been volunteering with the Humane Association for five years, said this is the first year they’ve done this sort of event with the library.

“We don’t typically do same-day adoptions,” Knopp said. “It’s to educate and raise awareness and get (the animals) out in the community.”

The library initiated the event after Jonathan Lebakken, the reference assistant at the public library, came up with the idea for the IditaREAD winter reading program and reached out to the Humane Association about bringing some animals in, Lebakken said.

“I wanted to do something a little bit extra, like have an event, because you want to have an event that ties into the IditaREAD program to get people interested,” Lebakken said. “So, I was like, we have a great local non-profit: Eau Claire County Humane Association. … What if we teamed up with them and had them bring some animals down to the library?”

And so they did. They brought bunnies and puppies from the Eau Claire Humane Society, and a few kids took turns getting a picture holding a bunny.

The volunteer coordinator for the humane society chose to bring in puppies and bunnies, rather than adult dogs and cats, because those are what the kids would like best, Knopp said. Adult dogs and cats wouldn’t have been as laid back in the library’s environment.

“We wanted to do a new reading program for the winter, a new theme, and I came up with the idea of IditaREAD,” Lebakken said. “It’s a play on the Iditarod — the dog sled race.”

The program ended up being beneficial for both the library and the humane society, Lebakken said. People from the community came into the event for the puppies and stayed to learn about the reading program.

“We want to see if we can get some of them adopted,” Lebakken said. “Because, you know, you don’t want them in the humane society, you want them adopted.”

This is the first year for the IditaREAD reading program as well as the “Books and ‘Beasts’” event. The library plans to continue their reading program again next year, Lebakken said.

“It’s been pretty … booming down here so it feels pretty good to see so many people,” Lebakken said. “So I think we’re definitely going to try to have this again next year.”

The reading program is open to anyone age 18 and above, according to the library website. Everyone who participates in the challenge will be entered to win a prize.

Kuchta can be reached at [email protected].