216 N Marshall Ave

Litchfield MN 55355


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While all Pioneerland Library System buildings remain closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Curbside Pick-up of library items is available. You may place items on hold using the online catalog. Library staff will call you to schedule a pickup time once your hold is ready. Pickup days/times vary by location. Please contact your library if you have questions or need assistance in using this service.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Find a New Perspective with Documentaries

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

For the past couple of years, we’ve shelved the nonfiction DVDs with the nonfiction books at the Litchfield Library.  It was partly because of shelf space and partly an experiment to see if it would work better for people to find both books and DVDs about a subject together on the shelf. 

In that time, we’ve learned that most people who like to watch documentaries have said they’d rather browse those DVDs in one spot.   So I cleared some shelf space, and you can now find the adult nonfiction DVDs at the end of the last nonfiction shelf, within view of the rest of the DVD collection. 

The children’s DVDs are still on the kids’ side of the library, even some nature documentaries, so don’t forget to check over there for things like Disneynature movies.  We also display the newest DVDs of all types on the first shelf of the main DVD section, so new documentaries are featured there, too.

And there are some new documentaries at the library to check out!  We have the Oscar-nominated movie Last Men in Aleppo on order.  It will be released on DVD this week.  This documentary follows three men in the internationally-recognized White Helmets, an organization of ordinary citizens who function as volunteer first responders in the Syrian civil war.  Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their selfless efforts, these civilians carry out search-and-rescue operations to save as many lives as they can.  With footage of the war in Syria, this film puts human faces on a conflict that’s difficult for many of us to grasp. 

Another new DVD we will be receiving soon is called Reclaiming Life: Faith, Hope, and Suicide Loss.  Produced by Christian publishing house Paraclete Press, this video aims to offer hope to people who have lost loved ones to suicide.  Kay Warren, the co-founder of Saddleback Church with her husband Rick, is one of the featured speakers on the DVD; their 27-year-old son committed suicide in 2013.  The other speakers are author and Roman Catholic priest Ronald Rolheiser, and Marjorie Antus, a writer and mental illness advocate who lost her teenage daughter to suicide in 1995. 

The Oscar-nominated documentary Abacus: Small Enough toJail is available now.  A small financial institution called Abacus was the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges from the 2008 mortgage crisis.  The Chinese immigrant Sung family owned Abacus Federal Savings in Chinatown in New York.  They didn’t deal in subprime mortgages or mortgage-backed securities, the things that got large banks and the economy in trouble.  They had a loan officer who did some illegal things with mortgages that were hard for others to notice because he spoke an unusual dialect and his customers often made cash transactions; when the managers turned him in, they were indicted.   Drawing parallels to It’s a Wonderful Life, the bank founder’s favorite movie, reviewers say this film is far more interesting to watch than you might guess - and that it will make you root for a bank.

Do you enjoy watching cat videos?  A step up from that is the sweet documentary Kedi, a Turkish film about the stray cats of Istanbul.  In this city, cats have always been somewhere between domesticated and feral, wandering as they choose into the lives of people.  If you look at the cast list of this movie, it’s nothing but eight cats.

If you’d like to learn a little something while you watch TV, take a look at the library’s nonfiction DVD section – now easier to browse than ever.