216 N Marshall Ave
Litchfield MN 55355


Monday - Thursday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed Sunday

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Teens, get your work published in the zine!

by Mariah Ralston Deragon, Litchfield library assistant

What is a zine? We’ve been getting this question a lot lately at the library! The short answer is that “zine” is short for “magazine”. That means a zine can potentially cover a very wide range of topics and genres.

This summer, the Litchfield Library has started making zines with kids ages 12-18. We call it our “Teen Zine”.  So far the zine has included pencil sketches, comic strips, short stories, doodles, and collaborative writing. I discovered the idea for zine making at the library after attending the Twin Cities Zine Fest in Minneapolis last summer. The Rochester Public Library was tabling there with some teens that had started a zine group at their library.

After the Zine fest, I started doing some research using MnLink at the library. I discovered that zines are considered to be a form of self-publishing. Self-published pamphlets and newsletters can be traced all the way back to Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac, which was started in 1757. (From “Make a Zine!” by Bill Brent)

This popular “Almanack” was full of word-play, calendars, weather forecasts, poetry, puzzles…you name it.

Jumping to present times, self-published books and zines can be found at many bookstores world-wide, and in countless variations. Regarding zines in particular, I found this quote from Stolen Sharpie Revolution by Alex Wrekk to be helpful…

“A zine is an independently created publication. The contents are anything you want them to be like; personal experiences and stories…music related writing, gardening tips, travel stories, comics, photography... Zines can be put together by one person or a group of people and they are usually photocopied.”

After our teens finish their writing, drawing, sketching, etc., we make photo copies of their work in black and white, using our trusty copy machine, and then we staple it all together using a saddle stitch stapler.

It just so happens that zine-making also fits into the library’s summer reading theme “Reading by Design.” Now that the zine group has gained some more members, it’s becoming more and more interesting to figure out how all the artwork and writing can fit together. And after everything’s edited together, photocopied, and stapled…we put the zine out at the front desk of the library for Litchfield patrons to enjoy. The zines are free, and available to anyone that wants one (while supplies last).

We will be making zines at the library on the 3rd and 4th Monday for the rest of the summer! 

Teens ages 12-18 are welcome to join us on July 24, August 21st, and August 28th from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

And it’s okay if you still don’t understand what a zine is… Come on down to the library; we would love to show you!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Who did it? New true crime

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Books that tell the stories of real-life crimes are always popular.  Usually called “true crime,” these books can combine the suspense of a mystery with the chance to learn about something that really happened.  True crime can also give the reader insights into human nature: why do people do bad things, and how do people survive when bad things happen to them?  The Litchfield Library has some new books that are classified as true crime.

One brand-new book is Mrs. Sherlock Holmes:  The True Story of New York’s Greatest Female Detective and the 1917 Missing Girl Case that Captivated a Nation by Brad Ricca.  Grace Humiston was the New York police department’s first female consulting detective, and the first female U.S. district attorney.  Despite her status as a legal pioneer and her family’s prominent social status, she has largely been ignored by history, even though she was famous in her time.  Humiston’s motto was “Justice for those of limited means.”  She solved strange cases all over the world, not only in New York City.  The book is being compared to Devil in the White City and In Cold Blood in the way it tells a gripping true story. 

Humiston was targeted by a secret organization called the Black Hand.  Another new book tells the story of a detective who took on this terrifying group: The Black Hand: The Epic War Between a Brilliant Detective and the Deadliest Secret Society in American History. Author Stephan Talty tells the story of Joseph Petrosino, who was called the “Italian Sherlock Holmes” at the time.  Early twentieth century newspapers really liked to compare people with Sherlock Holmes, I guess!    Petrosino was known as an ingenious detective and a master of disguise, so maybe the comparison fits.  The Black Hand started by extorting money from fellow Italian immigrants but began threatening a wider range of people.  Petrosino worked to shut down the organization as anti-immigrant sentiment gripped the nation.  A movie version is in the works, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

 Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI is on the current bestseller lists.  Author David Grann also wrote The Lost City of Z, which has recently been adapted into a movie.  Killers of the Flower Moon tells a shocking story of corruption and murder.  In the 1920’s, the members of the Osage nation in Oklahoma were the richest people per capita in the world, because oil was discovered on their land.  Then one by one, members of the tribe were murdered.  People were poisoned or shot, or they died under mysterious circumstances.  Then the people investigating the murders started dying.  After more than two dozen of these deaths, the new Federal Bureau of Investigation got involved, but they didn’t know what they were doing and at first they failed.  Then an undercover team worked with the Osage to discover the truth.  If you’re looking for a real page-turner, check this one out.

For a more recent story, look for Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street.  Steven A. Cohen was a pioneer in hedge funds in the ‘90s, rising from a middle class background to become a genius Wall Street trader and a billionaire.  But his hedge fund was ultimately fined and shut down after the largest SEC investigation in Wall Street history.  His employees were convicted of insider trading, but Cohen went free and is still trading his own money on Wall Street.  Author Sheelah Kolhatkar details the case and asks whether powerful men like Cohen are above the law. 

When you’re looking for books like these, you can search “true crime stories” as a subject in the library catalog.  History and a bit of psychology, mixed with a thriller – that’s true crime.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Lego Guy

The Lego Guy, Curtis Monk, will be presenting a program at Brickheads on Thursday, July 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the library meeting room.

Brickheads is Lego building for ages 4-14 plus parents.  Join us!

Sponsored by the Friends of the Litchfield Public Library.  Thank you!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Some Stories are Poignant, Some are Funny, and Some are Just Plain Silly!

By Jan Pease

I’ve been told that in the early 1960s, I told a NASA representative who visited our school that I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up.  Of course, then the unwritten rule was that only men could be astronauts.  “Almost Astronauts,” by Tanya Lee Stone, tells the true story of the thirteen women who were part of Project Mercury.  Known as the Mercury 13, they helped make it possible for later women astronauts to fly, even though they never left Earth.

“Counting Thyme” is a long (300 pages) poignant story about a family who moves to New York City so their young son can participate in a drug cancer trial.   The author, Melanie Conklin, asks the question, “How do you find your voice when your family isn’t listening?”  Thyme, the protagonist of the story, loves her brother but misses her home, her friends and her normal life. 
Kristin Rofitke wrote and illustrated her book, “Animal Beauty.”  In this very funny book, Ms. Rofitke tells the story of animals in a zoo who discover a fashion magazine and immediately try to follow the beauty advice.  I wonder   if anti-wrinkle cream really would work on an elephant.   This is a book I ordered because participants in “Camp Read-A-Lot” will be reading it.

 I also ordered “Claude in the Spotlight” for the same reason.  Alex T.  Smith, another talented author/illustrator, has written the series of Claude books which are famous world-wide.   I had a difficult time summarizing this character, so I borrowed a description from Booklist: "Claude is a small, plump dog who wears a beret and a lovely red sweater.  He has a  best friend, Sir Bobblysock, a striped sock who is grubby and smells a bit like cheese."  I really thought Sir Bobblysock was some kind of cat, but he's not.  He's a sock. In Mr. Smith's book, Claude and Sir Bobblysock join a dance troupe but have to perform in a dark, scary theater.  Of course, there is also a legend of a scary ghost connected to the theater. says of Mr. Smith: "After briefly considering careers in space travel, cookery and being a rabbit, Alex T. Smith finally decided to become an illustrator."

I ordered "Ada Twist, Scientist," by Andrea Beaty, because it is also on the Camp Read-A-Lot list, and it fits in so well with our summer reading theme, "Reading by Design."  A poster of "Ada Twist, Scientist," is even part of our summer decorating.  Ada is a little girl who began speaking late but is full of curiosity about the world around her. She is a little quirky and different, but so what!

If you're curious about "Camp Read-A-Lot," it is a fun, two-day workshop about children's literature, which is held all over the state of Minnesota.  Pioneerland librarians and area teachers are invited to Granite Falls July 26-27 and registration is only $40.00.  Register by July 21st to participate.  Information is available at area libraries.

Closed for Independence Day

Photo by Mike Mozart

Pioneerland libraries will be closed on Tuesday, July 4, for Independence Day.
Hours on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday will be as usual.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Family movies for summer vacation

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The big push in libraries in the summertime is the summer reading program for kids.  We really want kids to keep reading regularly over the summer so that they don’t lose ground by the time school starts in the fall.  But we know that families also like to relax in front of the TV together sometimes on these hot summer days.  Our library has some recent DVD additions that your family may want to check out.

Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful reimagining of their animated classic.  Emma Watson and Dan Stevens star as Belle and her beast, with extensive CGI animation making the enchanted household objects come alive.  New songs are included along with the original songs from the 1991 version, but this isn’t a film adaptation of the stage musical, which is also based on the animated movie.  My daughters and I loved this movie so much more than we expected to, but we also know people who didn’t really like it.  See for yourself by checking it out from the library, but be warned that it’s in high demand.

Dark Horse is a Welsh documentary that the website Common Sense Media recommends for families and that Rotten Tomatoes gives a 97% positive rating.  It’s an inspiring true story of a group of poor workers in a small town in Wales who pooled their money to breed and train a racehorse, entering a world usually open only to the wealthy and high-class.  It’s an old-fashioned tale of beating the odds, especially appealing for horse lovers, but really a general crowd-pleaser. 

The Eagle Huntress is another documentary that can give people of all ages a glimpse at another part of the world.  The film follows a 13-year-old girl in Mongolia as she trains to become the first female eagle hunter in twelve generations of her family.  If you enjoy falconry or girl-power stories, this highly-rated movie may be for you.  Daisy Ridley (Rey in the new Star Wars series) narrates.

 Planet Earth II is the new sequel to the BBC documentary made in 2006.  This also has Common Sense Media’s stamp of approval for families, and an amazing 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating.  Drone technology plus improvements in cameras in the years since the original have made the visuals even more stunning.  The DVD set includes six episodes covering different types of habitat, with an overall focus on environmentalism.

 Fuller House is the sequel to the ‘80s-‘90s sitcom Full House.  It’s a Netflix show, but we have it on DVD.   Almost the entire cast came back to reprise their roles, with DJ Tanner-Fuller now raising her kids in her childhood home with the help of two hapless female roommates.  Heavy on nostalgia, the thirteen-episode season is recommended for ages ten and up.

I’m looking forward to watching The Lego Batman Movie once it lands on the shelf at the Litchfield Library, but it’s been too popular to sit there yet.  This is a sequel to “The Lego Movie,” which was very fun and extremely popular with all ages.  Batman as played by Will Arnett was a strong supporting character in that first movie, and he stars in this new one, learning that he needs to work with others if he’s going to save Gotham City. 

Whether you want to go more educational or more toward pure entertainment, these movies can appeal to the whole family.  Litchfield Library has over 2000 DVDs available to check out, and many more are available to order from other libraries. Enjoy a free movie night by stopping at the library!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Minnesota mystery author Dennis Herschbach

Meet Minnesota author Dennis Herschbach Wednesday, June 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the meeting room of the Litchfield Public Library.  He will be here to discuss the 3rd book in the his Two Harbors mystery series, A River Through Two Harbors.

Fictional law enforcement officer Deidre Johnson uncovers a crime ring trafficking native girls to the harbor in Duluth.  She faces the conflict between the normalcy she sees around her and the long-kept secret river of victims that flows through her small town.

Hosted by Litchfield Library's Mystery Book Club and sponsored by member Pat Hanson.  Refreshments will be served.