‘Friends of the Library’ sell used books to promote renovation funds

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library has a goal of raising $7 million to pay for its new look

Grace Schutte

More stories from Grace Schutte

May 10, 2023

Photo by Evelyn Nelson

Students and community members gather at the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library to buy books on a warm spring day.

On March 13, the Friends of the Library held a fundraiser outside the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.

Rows of tables with books for sale organized by genre were set up outside the library’s doors. These sections included novels, young adult fiction, romance, sci-fi, westerns, books on tape, DVDs and CDs. 

Stacy Yearous, the program and development coordinator for the Friends of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library and organizer of this event, said the fundraiser is for the library’s renovation project.

“Due to an upcoming renovation of the library’s current space, the Friends are selling donated and withdrawn library books from their collection,” Yearous said.

According to the public library’s website, it was originally established in 1976 and was designed to cater to a smaller and less technologically advanced population. 

In the forty years that have passed since its founding, the public library has become limited in its current state. 

“The library is getting a facelift,” Yearous said. 

After the renovation is complete, the downstairs will have a new bookstore, where the Friends can sell withdrawn and donated books year-round. The entirety of the first and second floors will be touched up, and a third floor will be added. It will have space for galleries and a program room. 

The total cost of the project is currently estimated at $18.5 million. The public library’s goal is to fundraise $7 million for chapter one of its plan. 

The money raised at the Friend’s of the Library event goes directly to the public library, contributing toward the chapter one goal.  

More information about the renovation project can be found here, including the designs and photos of the predicted final product. 

Despite the price tag on the renovation, the cost of the books was low: $2 for a hardback and $1 for paperbacks in the adult section. Children and young adult books range between $0.25 – $0.50. 

However, the prices do not reflect the quality of each book.

Yearous said withdrawn books are titles the library has deemed they don’t need anymore. This selection of books is re-evaluated on a five-year cycle based on what has or has not been checked out from the library. 

“It can be because they have multiple copies or because it hasn’t been checked out for a specific amount of time,” Yearous said. “To keep the collection fresh, they take some titles out periodically and bring in new books.” 

Located in downtown Eau Claire, these events hosted by the Friends of the Library are easily accessible to both community members and UW-Eau Claire students. 

Molly Larson, a third-year environmental geography and German student was volunteering at the event. 

“Students should participate because it’s a great event and is very accessible,” Larson said.
“Having a feeling of community is also really important, especially right now.”

Volunteers also get books for free.

Photo by Evelyn Nelson

“It’s also a nice place to be outside and surrounded by people who love books — but the free books are also a good incentive,” she said.

Beyond the material incentive, reading for pleasure can increase empathy, lower stress, and aid in memory retention and much more

“Reading is a skill that is very important in our world,” Larson said.”It’s good to be able to read books by people who are not like yourself. It also helps you to understand people who have had different life experiences. It can make people more open-minded.”

The Friends of the Library will continue to hold events throughout the coming weeks, with a final larger sale in April. Afterward, the organization will be temporarily transferred to its new location near Festival Foods.

More information on future events can be found on the group’s Facebook page

Schutte can be reached at [email protected]