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

Friday, August 11, 2017

Revisit a classic

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

How many of the classics have you read?  We’ve all read some in school: Johnny Tremain and Lord of the Flies, anyone?  Some of us like to tackle a classic novel from time to time to see whether we think they’re one of the best, or as good as we remember.  The Litchfield Library has been replacing some old, worn-out copies of classic novels with new editions recently, because they still get checked out regularly.

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway was published in 1940.  Robert Jordan is a young American teacher who goes to Spain to fight for the Loyalists in the Civil War.  He becomes disenchanted, but in the end he learns about the value of life.  This novel was chosen for the 1941 Pulitzer Prize, but the recommendation was reversed when the prize board was convinced that the novel was indecent; no award was granted that year.  I started reading this novel in an English class, but when none of the students were keeping up on it, the teacher said she couldn’t teach us about a book no one had read and she called it off in frustration!  My classmates might find it more interesting now.  A Spanish character in the novel asks Robert if there are not many fascists in his country, and he replies, “There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the time comes.”  Look for themes of superstition, irony, death, and the common people vs. the political-military complex.

The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a Gothic novel published in 1851.  The grand house is built after Colonel Pyncheon covets the land and has the owner charged with witchcraft.  The man cries out on the gallows that the Pyncheons will forever be cursed.  The novel’s events mostly take place 160 years later, when the family and house are crumbling ruins, seemingly from the curse.  The house functions as a character in this novel, and themes of guilt, ghosts, and original sin are significant in the book.   Never as popular as Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, this novel still attracts readers a century and half after it was written.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens should attract local readers since the musical Oliver! was just performed in Litchfield last month.  Young Oliver is an orphan in a workhouse who is sold to an undertaker after his famous line, “Please, sir, I want some more.”  After Oliver runs away from the funeral parlor, he meets the Artful Dodger and innocently joins a gang of pickpockets in London.  This novel was originally published in installments in a magazine between 1837 and 1839.  Dickens believed the way the English dealt with poverty and homelessness led to more trouble, particularly crime, and in this novel the good and the evil people get their just rewards. 

One of my favorite novels of all time is Emma by Jane Austen.  I took a class on the history of the British novel in college, and the early ones were dreadfully boring.  Then I read Emma, expecting more of the same since I had not yet discovered Jane Austen, and partway through I thought, “Hang on… This is a romance novel!”  It is more than that, with wonderful character studies and sarcasm and witty observations.  But finally we had reached a point in the history of the novel (1815) where a coherent, suspenseful plot, character development, and smart dialogue actually happened.  I think one of the great things about this novel is that Emma grows as a person, realizing that she is selfish and that other people aren’t her playthings. 

We have also recently replaced many well-worn copies of Zane Grey’s novels, ever popular among our customers, plus some of Agatha Christie’s and Erle Stanley Gardner’s.  Some we now have on audiobook, as well.  I hope that it will be more pleasant to read fresh new copies of some of these time-tested books that have been loved to pieces.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Wonderful Wednesday afternoons, 2017

By Jan Pease

This week brings our summer programs to an end.  I can’t believe it!  In some ways, June 5th, our start date, seems like ages ago. But the summer has gone so fast, that at times June 5th seems like yesterday.

On Wednesdays we offered a program for students in grades K-5.  We called it “Wonderful Wednesdays.”   We collaborated with Meeker County Extension Service so on four Wednesdays we had  “Fun with 4H.”.  Two young, energetic folks who work with 4H came and had two hours of fun with our young people.  The kids learned a lot and had a really good time. The extension workers presented four of these short day camps on Wednesdays in June and July.  On those Wednesdays that the Extension workers didn’t come, I filled in for them. 

 Since our summer theme is “Reading by Design,” and Michael Hall visited the library in June,  we used his books, “My Heart is a Zoo” and “It’s an Orange Aardvark” to explore using various shapes to make pictures.  It was interesting to create pictures using hearts, squares, rectangles and other shapes.

We also learned about Zen Doodling, in which small sections of a picture are filled in with different patterns and colors.  

Our next “unit” involved unfolding geometric shapes to make a “net,” and I’m happy to say I finally get it. Back in the day, I missed every single question on standardized tests that involved unfolding any kind of shape.  (I’ve always known I have absolutely no spatial sense.)  Anyway, we built shapes out of paper and then used translucent plastic magnetic shapes to make amazing buildings and structures. 

For the last two weeks we talked about what shapes are the strongest and built shapes out of card catalog cards that would hold up a small toy locomotive.  In case you’re curious, triangles seemed to hold the most weight.  We also used straws and connectors to construct large things like a wall with a tower taller than I can reach, a “thing” made up of curves fastened together, and a rocket that was several feet high. 

We also loved to play bingo.  I learned that bingo is great for developing concentration and number recognition.  It’s also a lot of fun.

It’s challenging for me to face a group of elementary students, since I concentrate more on children through age five.   But I’ve completely enjoyed this summer of “Wonderful Wednesdays.”

The final library program for young children will be Second Saturday Story Time, Saturday, August 12, at 10:00.  Beginner Book Club will meet at its usual time, Thursday, August 17, at 3:00.  Our book will be “The Adventures of Nanny Piggins,” by R.A. Splatt. Brick Heads will continue on Thursday nights at 6:30.

 Readers can turn in reading game sheets through August 31. It’s been a splendid summer, and we’re ready for a fantastic fall.   

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Horticultural society makes donation for gardening books

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The Meeker County Horticultural Society has given a generous donation to the four libraries in Meeker County to purchase new gardening books. These books have been arriving recently, ready to be checked out.  Members of the horticultural society assisted in choosing the books. 

The titles added to the Cosmos Library collection are The Children’s Garden: Loads of Things to Make & Grow by Matthew Appleby, and Glorious Shade: Dazzling Plants, Design Ideas, and Proven Techniques for Your Shady Garden by Jenny Rose Carey.

These new books can be found on the libraries’ shelves of new arrivals.  All of these books are also available to be ordered by anyone in the library system, to be picked up at your nearest library.  Many other gardening books are available on the shelves in our local libraries, some donated in the past by the horticultural society. 

Thank you to the Meeker County Horticultural Society for making so many beautiful and practical books available to the gardeners in our area!

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.

Friday, June 9, 2017

True stories can tell good stories

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Good stories aren’t limited to novels.  Many memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies tell very interesting stories, and we have many new ones at the library.

Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story is Stephen Curtis Chapman’s new autobiography.  The contemporary Christian musician starts with his childhood, chronicles his rise to stardom and his marriage, and shares stories of the children born and adopted into his family.  Chapman lost his five-year-old daughter in a tragedy in 2008, and he discusses this in the book.  He also tells the stories behind his songs.

Between Them: Remembering My Parents is novelist Richard Ford’s account of his parents’ lives.  It’s really two short memoirs in one, the first section about his father and the second about his mother, with the whole book being only 179 pages long. In it, the author examines his parents’ lives before and after his birth; they were married for sixteen years before he was born.  Book reviewers say this is a beautiful book about Ford’s love for his parents, as well as their love for him and each other.  Ford won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his novel Independence Day.

Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom is a dual biography by Thomas E. Ricks.  Rather than covering their entire lives, the book focuses on the 1930s and ‘40s, when each did his part to fight authoritarianism.  In the mid-1930s, they both had close calls: Orwell was shot in the neck in the Spanish Civil War, and Churchill was hit by a car in New York City.  At the time, neither was experiencing success in his work.  These Englishmen went on, in their own ways, to help the world see that freedom is essential and that it requires, as the Star Tribune put it, “intellectual clarity and moral courage.”

Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage is a memoir by Dani Shapiro.  Shapiro is a respected author, having previously written memoirs on family tragedy, writing, and the search for meaning.  This time she examines her eighteen-year marriage, not as a chronological story but, again, as a search for meaning.  She highlights the fragility and strength of a marriage relationship, reflecting on how the events that happen in their lives shape it.  Together they have faced the loss of their parents, changes in their careers, and nearly losing their son to an illness. 

Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family is Kathy McKeon’s memoir of her thirteen years as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ personal assistant. McKeon was a new immigrant from Ireland when she began working for Jackie the year after JFK’s assassination.  She served as a nanny to the Kennedy children, as well.  Reviewers say the memoir is both honest and kind, a well-written insider’s perspective that really doesn’t violate the family’s privacy. 

Other new biographies and memoirs at the library include Man of the Year by Lou Cove; Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood; This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe; Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life by Sally Bedell Smith; and Rebel Mother: My Childhood Chasing the Revolution by Peter Andreas.  Look for these and other true stories of people’s lives on the nonfiction shelves, both on the shelf of new books and in the main collection.

Family musician Paul Spring at Saturday storytime

Children's author Michael Hall at storyhour

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

New fiction at the library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Summer is beginning, and for some people that means a chance to lounge on the patio with a good book.  Some of the new books at the library might be just what you’re looking for.
“Miramar Bay” by Davis Bunn is a gentle romance that has been compared to the novels of Nicholas Sparks.  Bunn has been a bestselling Christian fiction author for some time, but this book doesn’t have the inspirational aspect he’s been known for.  A Hollywood actor flees his life of fame and an engagement to an heiress, taking a job in an idyllic small town working as a waiter. Reviewers say it’s emotional and captivating. 

“The Burial Hour” by Jeffrey Deaver is the thirteenth book in the Lincoln Rhyme series.  Rhyme is a wheelchair-bound forensics expert who is making wedding plans when he and his fiancĂ©e get involved in the case of a businessman kidnapped from a New York City street in broad daylight.  The kidnapper left a miniature noose at the scene, and soon a video appears of the victim struggling for his life.  Book reviews say this one has a very complicated, even improbable, storyline and that it isn’t the strongest installment in the series, but it’s still a solid mystery novel.

For those who like historical romance, “My One True Highlander” by Suzanne Enoch may be your cup of tea.  Scottish Highlander Graeme must deal with the disaster his foolish younger brothers have caused when they kidnap Lady Marjorie, the daughter of their English neighbor.  Reviewers call it “thrilling,” “colorful,” and of course “romantic,” set in a beautiful summertime landscape in the Highlands. 

Donna Leon’s latest Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery has been getting stellar reviews.  “Earthly Remains” finds the reliable Brunetti burning out on handling the criminals of Venice; he takes a leave of absence in the villa of a relative, out on an island in the lagoon.  When the villa’s caretaker disappears, Brunetti feels he must return to his job to investigate.  Reviewers say these novels are strong on character development and a sense of place.  Kirkus Reviews described this book as “a vacation for your own soul.”

“The Stars are Fire” is Anita Shreve’s newest novel.  The fictional story of an unhappily married mother is set within the true story of the Maine fire of 1947.  Between October 13 and 27 of that year, nine towns were entirely destroyed, 851 homes and 397 seasonal cottages burned down, and half of Acadia National Park was wiped out.  In this novel, a pregnant woman flees to the beach with her two young children, watching her house burn to the ground while her husband works with the other volunteer firefighters in an attempt to save the town.  Reviewers say the plot of this one is not really very strong, but that it’s worth reading for the history and the writing style. 

For those who prefer science fiction, there’s “The Book of Joan” by Lidia Yuknavitch.  A retelling of the story of Joan of Arc, this novel is a dystopian nightmare set on a platform floating over the destroyed and radioactive Earth.  Humans are damaged echoes of what they used to be, saving stories from history by branding and grafting them onto their skin while they live under a dictator’s rule.  A group of rebels takes inspiration from young eco-terrorist Joan’s story. 

Science fiction, literary fiction, mystery, or romance – find the book you want for a leisurely summer day by visiting the library.

Friday, June 2, 2017

It's Here!

By Jan Pease

This is the week!   Everything starts!
Please pick up a bright yellow bookmark, available at the checkout desks, so you will know exactly what’s going on for young people at Litchfield Public Library.  It’s time to register to participate in summer reading and start to combat summer slide.

What do we mean by summer slide?  Children routinely forget 2 or more months of what they learn through the school year.  It’s the reason teachers have to review and review at the beginning of each school year.  It’s the reason some of my piano students, sadly, didn’t get past book two because they had to re-learn everything from the previous year.    

Michael Hall, a well-known children’s author, will visit the library Friday, June 9th at 10:00.  I can’t wait to meet him.  His books include “Frankencrayon,” “It’s an Orange Aardvark!” and many other favorites.  According to his website, before becoming a children’s author, “Mr. Hall was an award-winning graphic designer whose work included graphic identities for the City of Saint Paul, Macalester College, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the Hennepin County Medical Center.”  Mr. Hall lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  “My Heart is Like a Zoo” is my personal favorite among his books.

On Saturday, June 10th, Paul Spring will return to Litchfield Public Library for a free concert.   Mr.  Spring is so talented!  He is a marvelous guitar player, he sings, and he writes music.  And he puts on a wonderful, interactive program.  He will start at 10:00.  Mr. Spring  lives in Minneapolis but last year he mentioned  how much he enjoys getting out of the city.

Thanks to the teachers and staff at Ripley School who welcomed me in to present the summer reading program to several classes. We have traditionally offered field trips to classes, but elementary students have changed over the years.  Field trips take a lot of time and chaperones.  I visited the Kindergarten classes as well as 3rd and 4th grade   classes. This experiment was very successful and next year we plan to give teachers a choice of a field trip or a visit at the school.   I came away from this positive experience knowing that I couldn’t do their job!  

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Synchronize your Calendars!

By Jan Pease

This is the annual “Synchronize your Calendars” announcement for summer reading 2017.  Children and readers aged 2 to 17 can sign up to participate in this year’s program, “Reading by Design.” Keep  track of   reading and other activities on the reading record.  Every time one of the goals is met, return to the library and receive a small reward.  Returned reading records will each count as an entry to the prize drawing at the end of the summer.

 Little Elliot is a polka-dotted little elephant drawn by Mike Curato, and he is the star of our reading program.    Have your children join the “What is Little Elliot Doing” experiment. They can draw a picture of Little Elliot enjoying summer, or write a very short story about what he is doing. 

Our regular programming will also begin the week of June 5th.  Mondays will be a busy day as Mariah has activities planned at 3:30  for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Mondays of each month.  Art Journaling, for grades 4-8, continues on the 2nd Mondays.  She will also add a Zine Lab and Zine Workshop on the 3rd and 4th Mondays. The Litchfield Library Zine will be a place for artists, poets, and writers in grades 9-12 to share their work. 

Wednesdays we will offer Toddler Time, a beginning story time for very young children, babies to age 3.  They must be accompanied by  a caregiver.  We will also alternate Fun with 4-H and Wonderful Wednesdays, for grades K-5, each week from 1:30 – 3:30.

Brick Heads will continue every Thursday night from 6:30-7:30.  We free-build with Legos and it is a really fun evening.  On July 6th, the Lego Guy is coming for a visit during Brick Heads.

Once a month, Beginner Book Club, for grades 1-3, meets on the third Thursday at 3:00 p.m.  Our theme in June and July is the book, “House of Robots,” by James Patterson. On June 15th we will have a special guest who will show us how to make robots out of recycled things. 

On Fridays at Preschool Story Hour, for children 3-6, we will have some  exciting guests.  On June 9th Author Michael Hall, who is famous for the “Crayon” books, will visit story time. On July 7th the folks from “One Community, One Vegetable” will join us to celebrate carrots.  And on Friday, July 28th, Professor Marvel, our favorite magician, will visit Litchfield with his DIY Magic Show. 

Saturday, June 10th Paul Spring will present a family concert at 10:00 a.m.  He is a fantastic guitar player and singer whose programs are very interactive and fun. 

On the 2nd and 5th Saturday of each month, Margaret Weigelt offers teens a chance to experience science and technology at its best and most fun.  Sometimes they create with Makey-Makey, or make giant board games.  Sometimes they even do some coding. 

There will be a total solar eclipse in the afternoon of August 21.  Watch for the announcement of some very interesting activities  as we explore this amazing event.  

Whew! It sounds like an incredible summer at Litchfield Public Library!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Eclipse viewing party this August!

On August 21, our library will be hosting a solar eclipse viewing party, with free glasses provided.  We will be holding some space and astronomy-themed events at the Dassel and Litchfield libraries during the summer to get ready for the big event.  Save the date!

Friday, April 28, 2017

This 'n' That

By Jan Pease

When you come to the front desk area of the Litchfield Public Library, you will notice many Lego creations that cover the top of nonfiction shelving and the shelves in the beautiful cabinet given in memory of Rosann Lorenz.   These highly imaginative pieces of art are made each week at Brickheads, the kids who like to build with Lego bricks.

I love to listen to the young people as they tell the story of their creations.  Sometimes there are vehicles, sometimes space stations, and sometimes houses for families to share.   Some of the Lego characters are good guys, some are bad guys, and some are aliens or walking skeletons. Or Zombies.   Each creation is given a title with the name and age of the artist.  Some of the dads and moms have as much fun as the kids as we chat and build.  Brickheads is offered every week at 6:30 on Thursday nights for ages 4-14.

I think Brickheads is more than just a fun time.  Young people sometimes seem surprised by the good time they’re having without being connected to a device.  Conversation happens, and social skills are practiced.  Imaginations soar!  It’s more important than ever for our children to develop the ability to connect with each other.  Sometimes I feel like standing with a loudspeaker telling everyone to “step away from your phone! Step away from your phone!” 

Beginner Book Club is a program that is probably more fun for me than for the students.  We have been slowly working our way through the C.S. Lewis classic, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”  They are conquering a very difficult book and I’m proud of them.  The subject matter of this book, coupled with how very British the language is, makes this a challenge.  These are readers from grades 1-3, and they have remarkable insights.  Beginner Book Club meets once each month, third Thursdays, at 3:00.   

Each of these programs has had children “age out” and could use more members, and we have plenty of room for friends to attend together.  Both programs will continue through the summer and fall.

Summer will be here before we know it.  All of the Meeker County libraries are participating in “Reading by Design.”  This reading theme will include a lot of hands on fun.  As the summer unfolds, our goal is always to keep children using their reading and math skills.  Please encourage your children or grandchildren to be part of “Reading by Design.”  Watch for news later in May, and I’ll see you at the library!

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Very Useful Library Catalog Skill

 By Jan Pease

I learned a new skill using our library online catalog today.  I wondered if I could narrow the search to juvenile books published in 2017 that can be found in Litchfield.  You can look at a list of the newest books on the first page of the library catalog website, but you can’t limit the search by town or copyright date. If you ever want to do this, go to the library catalog, and choose advanced search.  Enter keyword: juvenile, material: book, language: English. Easy enough, right?  Now comes the tricky part. I had to limit the date, so I entered after 2016 and before 2018. That is the way to tell the computer I want all of the books published in 2017 in the Litchfield collection. (Of course it would be simple to just type in 2017, but the computer doesn’t think that way.)  Anyway, the result was 302 titles. And we’re only just finishing the month of April.

Look for some great nonfiction in these 302 new books.  We have added a series of   tiny biographies of famous people from the series, “My Itty-bitty Bio.”  Maya Angelou, Mother Teresa, Benjamin Franklin and others are included in this introduction to reading about real people.  Watch for additional titles, because I think we will add them all to the Litchfield collection.

We added a series called “Dark Waters” by Julie Gilbert.  These mermaid stories aren’t for the faint of heart.  Titles include “Fire and Ice,” “Into the Storm,” “Neptune’s Trident,” and “The Sighting.”  Mermaid titles are really popular right now, so we’ll
keep buying them!

If you like to eat (and who doesn’t?) look for the “Dessert Diaries” books by Laura Dower.  We added titles such as “Maggie’s Magic Chocolate Moon,” “For Emme, Baked with Love,” and “Gabi and the Great Big Bakeover.” 

We added a number of books about Minecraft, and they are almost flying off the shelf.  The three newest Minecraft titles are “Minecraft: Guide to Building,” “Minecraft: Guide to Animals," and Minecraft: Guide to Combat."                                      

If you’re interested in books about a career idea from the point of view of a young person, look for “Choose Your Own Career Adventure Hollywood,” “Choose Your Own Career Adventure Cruise Ship,” or “Choose Your Own Career Adventure  Military.”  These interactive books introduce young people to the ins and outs of unusual careers.
One of my favorite new books is “Babies Come From Airports,” by  Erin Dealy.  This is an adoption story with a twist, and I just love it. This sweet story is told from the point of view of a boy who had his own “Gotcha Day.”  

Try my search trick and explore other wonderful new books waiting for you at Litchfield Library.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Help! I Can't Find My Funny Bone!

By Jan Pease

“Do you know the difference between Google and librarians?  Librarians are search engines with a heart!”    I like this joke from “I Funny: School of Laughs.”  James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein collaborate on the “I Funny” series.  Our hero, Jamie Grimm, famous for being on tv and for winning a national comedy contest, has taken on  the task of helping the school librarian save the school library.  He does it by teaching his classmates how to be funny.  Can you learn to be funny if you don’t have a funny bone?  I don’t know. I think we’re born with a sense of humor and either have one or not.

Anyway, this is a good example of a novel that is heavily illustrated but not quite a graphic novel.  I don’t know who started this trend.  Jeff Kinney’s
series, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” uses the same format of small amounts of text with many illustrations that move the story along.  The eleventh book in the series, “Double Down,” came out in November of 2016.  Our copy of this popular book is checked out, which is an indication of how much these books are liked.

“Hamster-saurus Rex,” by Tom O’Donnell, is another example of a book that combines text with many illustrations.   A cute little hamster shows up in a classroom in grade 6.  One unusual thing about this hamster is that he’s
fearless and he growls.  Another unusual thing is that no one seems to know where he came from. 

Dave Pilkey’s new series, “Dog Man” is more of a true graphic novel.  It’s a very funny series.  Greg the K-9 officer and his partner are injured, and after extensive surgery, become an officer with the head of a dog and body of a man.  These fly off the shelves, in spite of the twisted premise.

Tom Angleberger has published a new book, Rocket and Groot: Keep on Truckin’.  Rocket and Groot are from the universe of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.  The blurb on the back of the book says that Rocket and Groot, with their super-intelligent tape dispenser, Veronica, have crash landed on a world called HappyHappyFunFun.  “This is a happy place, except for the out-of-control self-driving monster trucks, a supercomputer called Big Mama, and sharks, lots of sharks.”  I don’t get it, but that doesn’t matter. The first Rocket and Groot adventure, “Stranded on Planet Strip Mall,” has been very popular.  Just in case you wonder, Rocket is some kind of space traveling raccoon, and Groot is some sort of tree creature.  I just don't get "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Librarians are usually not thought of as people with a sense of humor.  Still, funny things happen at  libraries every day.  This morning at story hour, we shared a book called “Dalmatian in a Digger,” by Rebecca Elliott.  The whole point of the book was alliteration, with a duck in a dump truck and a camel in a crane.  But a little expert on heavy machinery corrected me: it was a Dalmatian in an excavator!

See you at the library!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Food, glorious food for our community

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The Litchfield Library is again offering a Food for Fines program to support the local food shelf during Minnesota FoodShare month.  Our program will run from March 15 to March 31.  For each donated item you bring to the library for the food shelf, we will waive $1 of your late fees, up to a maximum of $5 per person.  This can apply only to late fees, not to replacement fees for lost or damaged items.  Last year, Dassel, Grove City, and Litchfield library patrons donated a total of 92 pounds of food to the Meeker County food shelf through Food for Fines.  It’s a good way to help your community and yourself at the same time.

While we’re talking about food, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to buy interesting groceries, you may want to know about some of our new cookbooks.  One that’s popular right now is by Oprah Winfrey: Food, Health, and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life.  While Oprah discusses her relationship with food throughout the book, it is also a cookbook.  It lists Weight Watchers points for all of the recipes and generally espouses the Weight Watchers philosophy.  The recipes have some fairly complicated ingredient lists for the ordinary cook, but that’s often true of cookbooks.

The London Cookbook: Recipes from the Restaurants, Cafes,and Hole-in-the-Wall Gems of a Modern City is a trendy new cookbook.  Author Aleksandra Crapanzano got incredulous responses when she told them she was writing a book about the food scene in London; England doesn’t have a reputation for stellar food.  However, she says things have changed so much in the past twenty years, with chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and Jamie Oliver raising the bar in London restaurants.  The book blends travel information with recipes for the home cook. 

Based in a very different part of the world, Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South is all about American Southern cooking.  Author Vivian Howard is the star of PBS’s A Chef’s Life and the owner of Chef and Farmer restaurant in Kinston, North Carolina.  She based her restaurant’s menu on what was available from local farmers, even when that meant she needed to be creative with an overabundance of sweet potatoes and blueberries.  This cookbook combines her recipes with stories of growing up in Deep Run, North Carolina, and training as a chef in New York City.

Another PBS show, America’s Test Kitchen, has a new cookbook out called Bread Illustrated: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving Bakery-Quality Results at Home. Baking bread can be intimidating, but this cookbook breaks the process down into steps accompanied by six to sixteen color photos per lesson.  Recipes range from easy to advanced.

Another one for the bakers, Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life teaches techniques that can challenge beginners. Author Kate McDermott teaches Pie Camps across the country.  People describe her as a pie guru who teaches life lessons like peace and forgiveness along with crust techniques.  Personally, I’ve been more peaceful when making pies since I started using lard, and it sounds like some of McDermott’s recipes go that way, too. This book is Overdrive's Big Library Read through March 30th, so you can check out the e-book no matter how many other people already have it checked out right now.

Food, glorious food!  Whether you cook it for your family or donate it to people in need in our community, food is a great way to show you care.