Pablo Foundation pledges $750,000 to L.E. Phillips Library expansion project

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 12:56 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - As part of the “Story Builder” expansion, the L.E. Phillips Library will receive a pledge of $750,000 from the Pablo Foundation. It is the largest gift the project has received.

The City of Eau Claire is investing $11.5 Million to revamp the library’s failing mechanical systems while the Story Builder campaign is raising an additional $7 Million in private funds to expand the library’s physical space.

Pablo Foundation Executive Director MaiVue Xiong says, “The Pablo Foundation seeks to fund projects that will create the greatest amount of impact for the wider Eau Claire area. This includes the number of lives impacted as well as the longevity of the impact. The library touches so many people’s lives, and it doesn’t really matter who you are. It doesn’t matter your age, race, or where you came from. It doesn’t really matter how you fit into this community. Somehow, in some shape or form, the library is going to impact people living here.”

As part of their gift, the Pablo Foundation has secured name recognition for an expanded front entrance which will provide a welcoming, safe atmosphere. The funds will be paid to the library in annual installments over the next seven years.

The Pablo Foundation has also joined forces with the RCU Foundation and two anonymous donors to challenge the community to match their total gifts of $1.5 Million before the end of the year. Reconstruction to upgrade the library’s infrastructure—funded by the city’s $11.5 Million investment—will begin in the spring of 2021.

Library Director Pamela Westby says, “We’re so honored to gain major support from an organization like the Pablo Foundation, which does such important, impactful work across the city. They’ve already made this community a better place to live, and we feel our plans for the library are a perfect fit for their mission.”

Library expansion plans include full ADA compliance, ensuring equal access for all; more accessible shelving space for books, movies, and more, featuring better display options and less reliance on difficult-to-reach shelves; a 200-seat community programming room (twice the size of the library’s current largest room); a significantly enhanced front entrance; an expanded Youth Services programming room; and a variety of smaller rooms for individuals and groups to meet, study, and work.

Zach Halmstad, a founding member of the Pablo Foundation (and co-founder/former CEO of JAMF Software), is enthusiastic about what the library’s expansion can do for the community. He says, “The public library has been a part of my family’s life for as long as I can remember. It is a place that gives everyone, regardless of their age or socioeconomic status, the space and tools to maximize their learning or to explore their creative sides, which in turn leads to innovative ideas that will benefit our entire community. From traditional books to expanded online learning, community rooms with modern audiovisual infrastructure, intergenerational learning opportunities, and so much more, I’m excited to see the next evolution of this foundational organization in our community for generations to come.”

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