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

Friday, January 25, 2013

Do your taxes or read a magazine -- which would you rather do?


by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

We will be getting tax forms at the library.  This is the answer to a very frequent question we’ve been getting.  The fiscal cliff you heard so much about at the end of last year was resolved, at least for now, in the first days of the year when the House of Representatives passed the Senate’s compromise deal and the President signed it into law.  Once that was done, the IRS was able to create tax instructions based on the new law.  Because of this, tax season is delayed this year; it begins January 30. Various minor schedules have been arriving at the library.  We have gotten an email from the IRS saying that some of the major forms and instructions have been shipped to us.  I am hopeful that we will have them by the time you read this article.  Once we have them, we will set up a table in the library’s entry with the forms and booklets for you to take home.

After  you’ve been working on your taxes for a while, you’ll need a break.  Take a look at our brand-new magazine database, Zinio, where you can read popular magazines cover to cover on your tablet, phone, or PC.  The pages look just like they do in the print version, with photos, advertisements, and all.  Some are even enhanced with audio or video features. 

You can get to this service by going to www.pioneerland.lib.mn.us and clicking on the Zinio button.  You’ll see instructions for using it and a link to follow to get to the magazine website.  You’ll need to have an active Pioneerland library card in good standing.  To begin, you’ll set up an account with your library card number, email address, a password you create, and your name.  You’ll get a set-up email from Zinio with a link to follow. Then you’ll be able to view the titles Pioneerland offers, but to actually view the issues, you’ll also need to set up an account with Zinio.  If you follow the instructions on our website step-by-step, you shouldn’t have a problem.

You can view the issues online using your web browser, or you can download issues to your device.  Downloading may work well for those of you who do not have high-speed internet at home: bring your Kindle Fire or iPad to the library to download the latest issue of Apple Magazine or Bicycling, then read it at your leisure at home or on your vacation.

There are two differences from our e-book service that I think you’ll appreciate.  Multiple people can read issues at one time, so there’s no waiting for someone else to return the one you want.  And you never have to return them.  If you want to download an issue of Do It Yourself and keep it on your tablet for months so that you can work on the projects, you can do that.  You won’t return the magazines, but you can delete downloaded issues if you want to free up space on your device.  And as long as you have internet access, you don’t need to download them at all; you can simply view all of the magazines we subscribe to, currently 100 titles.

Back issues are not available.  All of our digital magazines will be available only from the starting date of our subscription to this service. 

Some very popular magazines are not available through Zinio because their publishers are not offering them in this format, including People and Sports IllustratedNewsweek is available.  It has stopped publishing in print and is only available electronically now.  Other popular magazines we offer electronically include National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, Taste of Home, Reader’s Digest, and Woman’s Day

Come to the library to pick up your tax forms in February or afterwards.  Or come to the library website to read some fun or informative magazines. We strive to provide you the materials you want in the format you want to use.

Friday, January 18, 2013

How Does a Zombie Know if it's a Bad Hair Day?


 By Jan Pease

Have you noticed a progression in paranormal movies, books and television shows from witches and ghosts to vampires and vampire slayers, werewolves, shape shifters, demonic creatures and finally, zombies?  Is this a logical progression?  No matter, Darren Shan has started a new series, “Zom-B Underground.”   He introduces Becky Smith, a tomboy who is nicknamed “B,” who is trying to survive after being “revitalized.”   More than 25 million copies of his novels have been sold. He is famous for his series, “Cirque du Freak,” “ Demonata,” and “The Saga of Larten Crepsley.” .”  Mr. Shan’s novels are available all over the world, in 31 languages.  More than 25 million copies of his novels have been sold, and he is described as a bestselling master of horror.  So, if Mr. Shan decides it’s time for a young adult novel about zombies, he must be right.
Gordon Korman is known for suspenseful books like “Island,” “Everest,” “Dive,” “Kidnapped,” and “Titanic,” all trilogies.  He has also written a series of juvenile books about Griffin Bing and his friends, “Swindle,” Zoobreak,” “Framed,” and “Showoff.”  The fifth book is “Hideout,” in which the friends try to hide a huge Doberman Pincher that weighs about 150 pounds.   As the flap on the book cover says, “Six kids. Three hideouts.  One extremely large dog.  What could possibly go wrong?”  

Barbara O’Connor, who wrote the book, “How to Steal a Dog,” has written another novel about young people working together to save an animal.  This time, it’s a one-legged homing pigeon named Sherman, belonging to Mr. Mineo, which is on the lam.   His   eight days of freedom bring together several residents of the little town of Meadville.  The book is titled, “On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s.”   

“T is for Twin Cities” is Nancy Carlson’s newest book.  This is an alphabet book about Minneapolis/St. Paul.  Her co-writer, Helen L. Wilbur is a former librarian.  I suspect that many of the interesting historical tidbits come out of her vast experience.  By the way, “Z” is for zero degrees.  Nancy and Helen say “It’s cold outside but we don’t care, in warm boots and hats and long underwear!”  

All of the coughing, sneezing and drippy noses this winter make Neil Gaiman’s new book, “Chu’s Day,” especially timely.  This is a picture book about a baby giant panda who sneezes.  Mr. Gaiman’s website, www.mousecircus.com, features a trailer about this, his newest  book.   He talks about the experience of visiting China and holding a baby giant panda in his lap while it ate bamboo.  He says that at this time he’s perhaps proudest of this, his shortest book.  I absolutely love “Chu’s Day”  and there’s nothing to add to that.
Sadly, beloved children’s author Margaret Mahy passed away in 2012, at the age of 76.    One of her last books, published posthumously, is “Mister Whistler.”   Ms. Mahy lived in New Zealand, but was famous throughout the world.  “Mister Whistler” tells the story of an eccentric gentleman who always has a song in his head and whose feet just have to dance.  I hope you have a song in your head, joy in your heart and that you dance a little bit every day.  See you at the library!




Friday, January 11, 2013

Have you seen these Oscar nominees?


by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

This year’s Oscar nominations have just been announced.  As usual, most of the major nominees are still in theaters and not yet available on DVD, but we do have several of the nominated movies that you can check out from the library now.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is an indie film that is nominated for best picture, best director, best actress in a leading role, and best adapted screenplay.  Nine-year-old Quvenzhan√© Wallis is the youngest best actress nominee ever.  Roger Ebert says, “She is so uniquely and particularly herself that I wonder if the movie would have been possible without her.”  The film is a post-apocalyptic fantasy that stars mostly untrained actors.

Among the films nominated for best animated feature, our library has three so far: Brave, ParaNorman, and The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Brave is a Disney-Pixar film about Scottish princess Merida who defies custom. She runs away and follows will-o-the-wisps to the house of a witch, who grants Merida’s wish to change her mother.  Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to save her family’s kingdom.  The animation has garnered quite a lot of praise, which is not surprising for a Pixar film.

ParaNorman is a stop-motion animated film from the makers of Coraline.  Norman is a boy who can see ghosts, which makes him seem weird to the people around him.  When a curse brings forth the town founders as zombies because of a witch trial centuries before, Norman is the only person who can save the day.  Reviewers say that the humor balances the scariness of the story and action.

The makers of Wallace and Gromit have produced another claymation film with The Pirates! Band of Misfits.  The Pirate Captain is competing in the Pirate of the Year competition in Victorian England, so he and his ragtag crew set out to be the ones to get the most booty.  They meet Charles Darwin, who convinces the captain that his parrot Polly is really the last dodo bird in the world and the answer to winning the riches they seek.

Moonrise Kingdom is nominated for best original screenplay. It’s described as a quirky, stylized and charming movie about two twelve-year-olds in 1965.  Both from unhappy family situations, they fall in love and run away into the wilderness on the coast of New England.  As people search for them, a storm approaches the island they live on, and life is turned upside down for everyone.

Rounding out this year’s Oscar-nominated movies available at our library are four that are up for technical awards.  Mirror Mirror, a Snow White comedy, is nominated for costume design.  Snow White and the Huntsman, another Snow White movie but with a much darker style, is nominated for costumes and visual effects.  Marvel’s The Avengers, the superhero movie that brings together the characters from the Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and Hulk movies with fun results, is nominated for visual effects.  And Prometheus , the Ridley Scott prequel to the Alien movies, is also nominated for  best visual effects.

Stop in to our library to check out these Oscar nominees, and find out whether they’re your favorites to be the winners on February 24.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Best Gift



  By Jan Pease

The holidays always remind us of family who are no longer with us, and we especially remember my husband’s mother, Elsie, who was born December 23, 1911.  In her lifetime she saw many of the great events of the 20th century.  She lived through two world wars and many military actions and conflicts.  She remembered the Great Depression very well.  Elsie saw the introduction of the wonders of electricity, radios, television, flight, space travel and computers, dishwashers and tv remotes. 

Two days short of 101 years after Elsie’s birth, her great-grandson Andrew came into our world.  I think that makes him my great nephew.   The world he will grow up in is so different   from hers.   There are so many more people in our world, an estimated 7.06 billion compared to only 1.6 billion people in 1900.  Thanks to technology, our world seems much smaller.  Elsie worked at a switchboard in a telephone office back in the day when the operator actually connected the callers.  We saw our first pictures of Andrew on a smart phone and on Facebook.  

But some things are the same.  Babies need time and love and patience.  They need tummy time. They need skin to skin, face to face contact.  They learn the most from their first teachers, parents who love them.

Have you seen a small child tap a book to see what will open?  It’s so cute, but I cringe when I see a child do that, even if mobile technology is the way of the future.  I believe that children need to be exposed to books, to learn how to hold a book and to turn a page.   They need to hear songs and stories in mom’s or dad’s voice, and enjoy the feeling of cuddling together with a bedtime story.   They need to ask what and why again and again.  They need our presence. 

Rosemary Wells, the famous creator of Max and Ruby and other memorable characters, has a wonderful website, www.rosemarywells.com.   Besides activities and information, Ms. Wells included the texts of  a speech she gave, “Children at Risk,” in 1998.  The message is just as important today.   Ms. Wells said,  “A mother, taking time every day, to read a book aloud to her child, is giving her baby the gift of thought and language.  Reading often, starting young, a father gives his child a whole world of his own to dream. Parents who read to their children are giving of themselves, of their time. By not saying “I’m too  tired, I’m too busy, I want to do something else,”  they are giving love. They are giving their voice, their patience and more important than anything they are giving pure love."

 Great-grandma Elsie’s birthday was always lost in the hubbub of Christmas preparation when she was a child. We always tried to celebrate her birthday in her later years.   I don’t worry about little Andrew.   He is so wanted and so loved already that the only danger is that we will spoil him.  The McDuff stories by Rosemary Wells would be the perfect 1st birthday gift! 

 And if you are sharing an iPad with your child, read the story with them now and then so they can hear that story in your voice.