Basics

216 N Marshall Ave
Litchfield MN 55355

(320)693-2483

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

Monday, June 27, 2011

An Unexpected Journey

Pioneerland Library System is making its first foray into the world of eBooks, and so am I.  More on the Pioneerland announcement later, but first I have to confess that I am a reluctant eBook reader.   I like the feel of a book, the smell of a new book opened for the first time, and the comfy feeling of settling down with a cup of coffee and a good read.  I love to sit on the beach beside Lake Superior and lose myself in Jane Austen’s cozy world while the waves crash and the seagulls squawk.
The knowledge that I could easily carry fifty books on the eReader that fits in my purse pushed me into this new journey, and it’s been interesting, to say the least.  I’ll summarize what I’ve learned.
First, I knew I wanted to be able to borrow eBooks from libraries that are willing to lend them.  This eliminated one of the major ereaders, although Amazon.com has announced that their Kindle will be compatible with library borrowing later this year.  Second, I had to decide from the many options available, depending on how much I wanted my device to do.  I decided to get a basic, black and white device that doesn’t let me browse the internet or check emails.  I just want to read books.
Here is the announcement: Pioneerland has just launched a website that allows patrons to download eBooks and audio books.  The address is http://pioneerland.lib.overdrive.com/.  (Don’t add a “www” before the word Pioneerland.)  This site contains everything you need to equip your home computer to download audio books and eBooks.
You will download the Overdrive Media Console if you are interested in downloading audio books.  You will download Adobe Digital Editions if you are planning to download eBooks.  A guided tour is available, which takes you through the process step by step.
 When you’re ready to start, click on “Getting Started” on the digital media homepage.  I followed the instructions, and was surprised at how easy it was.  For eBooks, after the free software is installed on your computer, visit adobe.com and set up a user name and password for digital editions.  This lets you authorize your computer, and you then authorize your device with the same user name and password.
  When you check out an eBook from Pioneerland, it opens in Adobe Digital Editions.  To put the eBook on your device, you connect the device to your computer, and as if by magic, the name of your device shows up on the bookshelf of Adobe Digital Editions.  You just drag the title over to the name of your device, and you’re ready to read.  You may return your book early, or wait until the due date, when your eBook will automatically be returned.   You must delete the title from your device, which is easy to do while your device is connected to your computer. 
Be aware that the Pioneerland website has this disclaimer: “Please note that you may download Audio books and eBooks to your personal computer or mobile device at your home or office but it is not possible to download them at Pioneerland Library System workstations.”   You can, however, register your device on the wireless connection in the library and download a purchased or free book directly to your device.
At this time, I know that Hennepin County Library, http://www.hclib.org/  is one of the few library systems in Minnesota who permit library card holders from other regions to register and use their extensive library of eBooks.   ELM, the Electronic Library for Minnesota, http://elm4you.org  offers netlibrary.org, a collection of mostly nonfiction titles.  I haven’t tried putting anything from ELM on my eReader.
Other sites that will inform you about free and inexpensive titles that are available to download are http://online-novels.blogspot.com; http://blog.booksontheknob.org; http://www.kobobooks.com; and http://dailycheapreads.com.   Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Google all have free and inexpensive books to download, as well as more expensive items to purchase. The Bartleby Project, http://www.bartleby.com, and the Gutenberg Project, http://www.gutenberg.org are also sources for free books. http://ebooksinlibraries.blogspot.com/ has all kinds of information and links about using eBooks from public libraries.  There are many, many more sites that you will find if you search.  I have learned that sometimes the free titles will open only online on your computer, but sometimes you can also add them to your device.   It simply involves trial and error.  
The most important thing I learned is this:  it is almost too easy to download and purchase eBooks directly on a reading device, especially for a book addict like me.  See you at the library!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Many family activities at the library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
We have a flurry of activity planned at our library in the coming weeks.  If your family is looking for something to do, we hope you’ll join us.
On Thursday, June 23rd, the local Born to Read group is presenting a summer reading event at the library.  Storyteller Bob Gasch will perform at 6:30 p.m.  If you’ve ever seen Bob performing, you’ll know that he really entertains kids and draws them into the stories.  We’ll also do an ethnic craft and have a snack, both related to our “One World, Many Stories” summer reading theme.  This will be for families with children of all ages.
On Friday, June 24th, we’ll have special guests for preschool story time at 10 a.m.  WonderWeavers Storytellers will be performing.  Tina Rohde and Colleen Shaskin, the WonderWeavers, are based in Eden Prairie and perform in libraries and schools all over the Midwest.  This is one of our Legacy events, which are wrapping up for the year.
If you enjoyed Robert Halbrook’s programs last fall, “Wizard’s School” and “Dark Tales of Mystery & Intrigue”, come see him again on Tuesday, June 28th at 6:30 p.m.  He’ll be performing his new magic and reading show, “Professor Marvel’s World of Wonders”.   In the show, he’ll take the kids on an adventure through India, England, and other countries around the world, incorporating classic and contemporary children’s books.  This program is geared to kindergarteners through fifth graders, but even parents and grandparents enjoyed Wizard’s School in October. 
There’s no need to sign up for any of these programs; just come join us in the children’s department.
Our usual schedule of story times has resumed, with Toddler Time taking place on Wednesdays from 10:15 to 10:45; Family Story Time on Thursday evenings at 7:00; and Preschool Story Hour on Fridays from 10:00 to 11:00. 
The summer reading program is underway.  It’s open to kids ages 3 to 17.  If you haven’t signed up yet, ask us at the front desk or children’s desk, and we’ll help you get started.   If you have signed up, keep reading and count up to an hour a day of your reading time, and bring in your completed reading logs for prizes. 
Our two children’s book clubs are meeting this week and next.  The middle school book club is meeting on Thursday, June 23, at 3 p.m. to discuss Gulliver’s Travels (the group’s choice at last month’s meeting).  The after-school book club, which is for grades 3-5, is meeting the next Thursday, June 30, at 3 p.m.  There’s a book chosen for this month, but we might be spending most of our time on an art activity this time instead; you’ll have to drop in and find out.  Kids are welcome to join our book clubs at any time.  Just come to the meeting or ask at the library desk ahead of time to get a copy of the book. 
If you’re not a child but a senior citizen, there’s a library book club for you, too.   We have a book club for retirees/seniors that meets at Emmaus Place on the first Thursday of every month at 1 p.m.  We have decided to carry on through the summer this year.  Because of the renovation project beginning at Bethany Home, we will be meeting in the activity room in the basement of Emmaus Place instead of our usual meeting place, the Fireside Room.  For our next meeting on July 7th, we’re reading The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.  The books are not always that literary, but we do read classics from time to time.  Other recent books we’ve read include The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, The Haymakers, and They Named Me Marjorie.  If you’d like to join this book club, stop in to talk to me or give me a call at the library. 
One activity that’s for all ages is our book sale.  Our monthly Friends of the Library book sale normally takes place on the third Saturday of every month.  In July, we’ll be holding it on the Saturday of Watercade instead, July 9th.  Prices range from 10 to 50 cents per item, and the proceeds benefit the Friends of the Litchfield Library.
Look where you’re walking as you make your way here through the construction!  But we hope we’ll see you here at the library in the coming weeks.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What's That Fragrance in the Air?

Next to the fragrance of lilacs and peonies, I like the smell of new books!  Here are a few that just crossed my desk at the children’s department of Litchfield library.

Incredibly Alice, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, brings high school to an end for Alice, as she graduates and faces the age old “now what?” question.  Fans of the series begin with Alice in elementary school, and have grown up with her. This young adult novel is not for younger children, but if you’ve grown up with Alice, you will love this book.

Gail Carson Levine, winner of the Newbery Award in 1998 for Ella Enchanted,  has stirred up a plot that includes a clever heroine, a dragon detective, and a shape-shifting ogre.  What more could a fantasy reader ask of this talented writer?  Written for ages 9-12 A Tale of Two Castles has a touch of adventure, a hint of magic, and a bit of mystery, as Ms. Levine introduces us to her new heroine, Elodie.  I hope this is the beginning of a series.   It’s a promising beginning!

I was a socially awkward child with a huge imagination.  I remember pretending to ride a horse across the plains, and seeing and smelling and feeling like it was real.  I remember  Barbie and Ken having adventures in outer space or a deserted island, all real. Like magic.  But one day the “magic” ended. Suddenly my horse was just the railing of my bed, and my room had four walls and Barbie and Ken were just dolls.  Nora Raleigh Baskin captures that same feeling of girls growing up in her novel, The Summer Before Boys.  Two best friends, Julia and Eliza, share the magic of imagination, constantly pretending elaborate stories.  The girls are torn apart when Julia begins to grow up.  As the friends resolve their problems, they realize that boys will come and go, but friendship lasts. Their wait for Julia’s mother to return from military service in Iraq adds a poignant twist to the story.  This is simply a great read, written for ages 9-12, but sure to be enjoyed by anyone who has discovered that one day the magic ends.

Patricia Hermes writes the Emma Delimma series, and her new book, Emma Dilemma, the Nanny, and the Best Horse Ever, is one of the best. Written for ages 9-12, this series reminds of the Amber Brown books by the late Paula Danziger.  Whacky dilemmas, great characters, and a family that loves each other add up to a delightful series.

What do pirates cook?  Scurvy soup and peg leg pickles?  The Pirate Cookbook has six kid friendly recipes, introduces  basic cooking tools and techniques, and just might turn the young pirate at your house into a young chef.

 Several new picture books by beloved authors have been released. Slightly Invisible, by Lauren Child, is a hilarious book continuing the story of Charlie and Lola and lets us meet Lola’s invisible friend, Soren Lorensen.  Tricky creatures, beware.  Wordless picture books can be tricky, but Chris Raschka, a master at telling a story with very few words, pulls it off with A Ball For Daisy.    Learning to tell a story from beginning to end, called narrative skills, is an important step in developing literacy.  This book is a perfect choice to give a young pre-reader some experience in telling a story.  It’s also a beautiful story of loss and new friendships.

Finally, Douglas Wood, who lives in Sartell, has produced another lyrical picture book that is a feast for the senses.  The gorgeous illustrations by Irish artist P.J. Lynch, done in oil, are the perfect complement to Mr. Wood’s eloquent words.  No One But You can learn so many things about our world, and no one but Douglas Wood could write this perfect picture book.

These books, and more, are waiting for you at the library.  See you there!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Greatest Generation concert this Sunday

Join us this Sunday at 1 p.m. for Happy Days Are Here Again: Uplifting Songs of the Greatest Generation.  Jazz vocalist Rhonda Laurie will perform this free concert at the Litchfield Opera House, 136 N Marshall Ave, Litchfield MN.  This concert is presented by the Litchfield Public Library, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the Litchfield Opera House Association with funding from the Minnesota Legacy Amendment.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Kids ask good questions

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
6/3/11

I’ve been speaking to elementary school classes from Litchfield for the past few weeks, telling them about our summer reading program and about the library in general. Our children’s librarian, Jan Pease, usually leads these presentations but has been out on medical leave, as she wrote in last week’s column. While I have really missed having her here taking care of children’s programming, it has actually been a good opportunity for me to introduce myself to kids in Litchfield. Since then, they’ve been saying hello to me like I’m a familiar person when they come into the library, which is fun for me. It’s also been fun to hear the questions they come up with when I ask them what they want to know about the library and about summer reading. I’ll share some of those questions and answers with you.

One of the basic questions is “How do you get a library card?” The answer for a child is that they need to bring in a parent or guardian, who can fill out the application for them. We need to have the parent with them in the library when they apply, because there are responsibilities that come with a card. The card is free. If they’ve had a card before and lost it, there is a $3 fee to get a replacement card.

I’ll give you the answer for an adult while we’re at it: bring in a photo ID and something that shows your current address. This can be accomplished with one document if you have a current driver’s license. Then you can fill out an application and get your free card.

One of the questions we asked the kids is “How many books do you think we have here in the library?” Their answers ranged from 300 to infinity. It’s somewhere in between. According to our 2010 annual report, we have 46,513. We also have 1306 audios (books and music) and 2255 videos. These numbers are always changing, of course, and we’ll firm those up a bit when we do inventory later this year.

The kids asked me, “How many people come in the library every day?” That’s a good question. We count everyone who comes in the door for a week, twice a year. Based on those statistics, we have about 77,584 visits to the Litchfield Library in a year. That comes out to roughly 249 visitors a day. Yes, it’s a busy place.

One of the kids asked if they need to come to meetings to be in the summer reading program. The answer is no, you just sign up at the library, pick up your sheet for keeping track of time spent reading, and bring it back in for a prize when it’s complete. I also told them to be sure to pick up a new sheet once they’ve finished one, because we don’t want them to read for only two weeks in June; we want them to read all summer long. Kids can lose a month of reading progress in school for every month of summer vacation if they don’t keep reading. We want them to keep it up so that they’re ready to go in September when school starts again.

Even though kids don’t need to come to any programming for the summer reading program, we do have a kick-off party happening on Thursday, June 9th, from 6-8 p.m. Kids can sign up for the summer reading program, make crafts, and listen to musician Dennis Warner at 6:30. Elementary school students can also come to Fun with 4-H, to Summer Vacation Book Club (for 3rd through 5th grade), and to family story hour on Thursday evenings. There will be a couple of other fun events for kids coming up this summer, as well.

Some children wondered how we got all of the books in order on the shelves. Their teachers and I told them that the library has moved a few times since the first Litchfield Library was built in 1904, and that it all was set up in this building around ten years ago. But we’re always working to put the books in order on the shelf when they’re returned or when new ones come in: fiction in alphabetical order by author’s last name, non-fiction in Dewey Decimal order.

I was also asked, “What’s the oldest book in the library?” (I’m not sure!), “What’s the newest?” (there’s something new every week), “How many books can you check out at a time?” (the computer will stop you at 99, but you should limit yourself to what you can keep track of), and “Is this your job?” I am so privileged that this is my job. There’s always so much to do, but it’s a beautiful and fulfilling place to work, and it’s great to make connections with kids and help them understand that the library is for them. I told them that if they ever need help, they should ask a librarian and we’ll help them find what they’re looking for in the library.