216 N Marshall Ave

Litchfield MN 55355


All Pioneerland

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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Have a Mega Movie Marathon!

By Jan Pease

How do you ring in the New Year?  My husband and I are really not fun people. We don’t enjoy parties, our drink of choice is diet soda, and our idea of a decadent snack is potato chips with dip. However, we usually have a New Year’s Eve movie marathon, sometimes ending long after midnight.

My personal favorite long evening is to watch all five hours of the BBC version of “Pride and Prejudice.”  Unfortunately, the Litchfield library doesn’t own a copy of this, but you could request it from another library in time for a rockin’ Regency New Year’s Eve.  Another favorite movie marathon is to watch the entire “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, extended versions, back to back,  for about  11 ½  hours.  Dave and I did it, once, ordering pizza in the middle, and drinking too many diet sodas.  The resulting hangover was impressive, considering that no alcohol was involved. 

The Litchfield library collection has many movies and television series from the BBC, which would provide many hours of dramatic British entertainment. “ Downton Abbey”  is an extremely popular BBC miniseries.  If you watch it all at once, it will take just over 6 hours.   The complete first season of “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”  takes only about 7 ½ hours to watch.    If you prefer to try an Adam Dalgliesh marathon, check out “Devices and Desires” and “Cover Her Face.”  If you watch both miniseries back to back, it will take about 11 hours. The “Henry James Collection” provides a little more than 14 hours of drama.  Episodes of “Poirot” and “Miss Marple” are also very popular, and it would be quite easy to have a British Mystery Marathon.

The library owns all 8 movies in the “Harry Potter” series.  If you’re up to it, you could watch them all in a little more than 19 ½ hours.   The library owns all of the “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy, the original Swedish films, which would take about 7 ½ hours to watch.  You can watch them in English or Swedish.  The library also owns the “Underworld” trilogy, which only takes about 5 ½ hours to watch. 

With a bit of interlibrary loaning, you could watch all of the “Star Wars” movies. The six movies would take about 13 ½ hours.  The previously mentioned “Lord of the Rings” trilogy is not available in its entirety at Litchfield, but other libraries can fill in the gap left by our missing “Two Towers” dvd.

American TV series might provide the best marathon potential.  For example, to watch all of the 14 episodes of “Firefly” takes nearly 11 ½ hours.   The entire series of “Moonlight” takes about 11 ½ hours to view. If you’re nostalgic for animated action, watch the entire season of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.”  It would only take about 16 hours.  The library copies of the four seasons of “Burn Notice” are nearly always in use.  If you were able to check out all 4 seasons at once, you would have a total of 45 hours of action to watch.  That, perhaps, might be too much of a good thing.

Remember that the library will be closed on January 2nd for the holiday.  That leaves us with plenty of time for a mega movie marathon, thanks to Litchfield Public Library.  See you there!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Closed for Christmas

Image created by, used by Creative Commons license.

We will be closed Saturday, December 24, and Monday, December 26, for the Christmas holiday. Merry Christmas from the Litchfield Public Library staff!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Curl Up with a Movie Over the Holidays

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Are you ready for the holidays? Gifts purchased, treats made, house ready? I’m sorry to say that I am not. This is the first Christmas season that I’ve been working full-time since my children were born, and I’m in grad school, too. I took a class on collection development this semester, so I’ve been spending my November and December evenings and weekends evaluating Litchfield Library’s parenting collection in detail and creating a presentation on ebooks in public libraries. I just may be out with the shoppers on Christmas Eve Day this year.

Library closed for holidays

Our library will be closed all day on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24. We will also be closed on Monday, December 26, for our Christmas holiday. We will be open on New Year’s Eve Day, but we’ll be closed again on Monday, January 2. This will be the case in all Pioneerland libraries, so if you visit Grove City’s, Dassel’s, or Hutchinson’s libraries, you’ll find the same holiday closures.

Check out a movie

Because we’ll be closed for that span of days, if you check out movies on Thursday, December 22, or Friday, December 23, you’ll be able to keep them until we open again the following Tuesday. Maybe you’d like to get a few movies to keep the kids busy while you wrap presents or to watch when things quiet down on Christmas Day or the days between Christmas and New Year’s. We’ve gotten some new DVDs for you to choose from:

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. If you missed it on TV or want to watch it again, you can check it out from us.

Cars 2. This sequel to the wildly popular Pixar movie Cars has Lightning McQueen and Mater headed for the world Grand Prix.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins. This adaptation of the award-winning, classic children’s book stars Jim Carrey as a New York businessman who inherits six penguins who turn his apartment into a winter wonderland.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2. This final installment brings the series to an epic finale at Hogwarts. This was one of the few movies I saw in the theater this year, and I loved it. It’s on my Christmas list.

Fiddler on the Roof. If you’re thinking about trying out for next summer’s community theater production, check out the movie starring Topol as Tevye, a poor Russian Jewish man with five unmarried daughters. We have the soundtrack on CD, too, so you can learn the songs. The 1971 movie is rated G.

We’ve also just gotten Firebreather from the Cartoon Network, Top Hat, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, A Night at the Opera, starring the Marx Brothers, and Super 8.  I've heard rave reviews of the last one and plan to check it out myself.

I hope you’ll find something among our new movies that you’ll enjoy. Have a merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Just in Time for Christmas

By Jan Pease

Shazam! Great new picture books for Christmas are here at the Litchfield Library. One of the very best and funniest books, ever, “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” has been retold in picture book form by author Barbara Robinson with illustrations by Laura Cornell. The Herdmans are here, in all their awful glory, but some of the subplots have been left out. As they take over the Christmas program chaos ensues, but some of my favorite moments are when Imogene burps the baby Jesus, Gladys weeps as the beauty of the Christmas narrative unfolds, while the Herdman brothers, wise men, bring their Christmas ham to the Baby Jesus.

“The Christmas Pups” is a completely sweet but unrealistic dog adoption story about three puppies and an older dog who find a loving family who adopts all of them from an animal shelter. Perhaps it isn’t as farfetched as the romantic Christmas books that seem to be everywhere, but really, who would find room for three puppies and an adult dog in their home? Anyway, Teresa Bateman has written a wonderful story for dog lovers, and I wish that every animal needing a home will find one this Christmas.

Toni Buzzeo has written “Lighthouse Christmas,” a wonderful story based on actual Flying Santas that visited families who kept lighthouses, beginning in 1929. Read the story about a brave girl named Frances who helped her dad keep the light on in a lonely lighthouse off the coast of Maine, and then visit the website of the real Flying Santas,, who still visit Coast Guard families in remote locations.

“The Christmas Coat: Memories of My Sioux Childhood ,” by Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve, is a lyrical telling of the author’s childhood memories of life on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, winter 1945. Virginia grew up as the daughter of the Episcopal priest on the reservation, a position that meant her family, while living in poverty, tried to help the families around them first, even if it meant doing without necessities. The real meaning of Christmas comes through in this lovely book.

“The skies shouted it to the seas that thundered it to the waves that roared it to the great white whales that sang it to the starfish in the deep. And tiny sandpipers danced it on shining sands... 'It's time! It's time!' On one quiet night, creation whispered a secret. Grass and bees, robins and trees all spread the word. Sheep told their young while angels sang the song to the shepherds. Hushed news of a miracle echoed to the ends of the earth. The moment had come. The long-awaited child had arrived! Creation cried out in celebration, but only a few people heard. Only a few joined nature's chorus, a song in praise of the newborn King.” These lyrical words are quoted from “Song of the Stars,” by Sally Lloyd-Jones. Sometimes a book comes along that deserves to be an instant classic. I think “Song of the Stars” is one of those books.

Finally, when I was sharing books at the ECFE milk and cookies with Santa, a small group of children and I looked at the book, “A Christmas Goodnight.” This is a goodnight book that lets us say goodnight to all of the characters in a nativity scene, then turning to say goodnight to everything the child sees in his room, ending with the Baby Jesus in the crèche beside his bed. I always ask children about the illustrations, and when I asked about the nativity scene, one tiny little child said in a hushed voice, “That’s God.” Wow! What more can I say? See you at the library!

Friday, December 9, 2011

ho! Ho! HO!

Ho! Ho! HO! 
Hee Hee HEE!
Santa’s niece, KRIS
      is the one to see!

Come to the library Thursday, December 15 for a fun evening. Make an easy craft in the
meeting room, frost a cookie for a snack, sing Jingle Bells and some other songs, and join
Kris Kringle (also known as
library board member Kris
Marshall) as she reads some brand new holiday books that will soon become favorites.  

Thursday Dec. 15th
6:30– 7:30 p.m.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmastime, Game Night, & the Best Books of 2011

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! We’re in the process of putting up holiday decorations in the library. We have displays of holiday books on the children’s side and on the adult side, above the movies. It’s fun to make the building look festive.

Story time with Santa’s niece

We’ll be taking a break from story times after December 9th, since people’s schedules get busy later in the month. We hope that families will join us on Thursday, December 15th, at 7 p.m. for a visit from Santa’s niece Kris Kringle and a craft led by Jan Pease. Kris Kringle is also known as Kristine Marshall, one of our library board members.

Game night

If you happen to be looking for something to do on Monday evenings this winter, join us for game night at the library. On December 12th, we’ll be playing card games. We have just a few here at the library (Pictureka, Scrabble Slam, and one or two others), so feel free to bring your own. On December 19th, it will be board games. So far we don’t own any of those, so bring in some you’d like to play with other people who come. We’ll set up in the large meeting room and have the space available for gaming from 6:30 until shortly before 8, when we close. We’ll be closed the Monday after Christmas and the Monday after New Year’s Day, so we’ll resume game nights on January 9th. This is open to all ages and skill levels. Bring the whole family!

Best books of 2011

Besides our Christmas book displays, we have another by the front desk that features the best books of 2011. The best-of lists of the year are coming out, and it’s fun to see what the reviewers are listing. Here are some that the Litchfield Library has in its collection:

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. This novel was a bestseller in Japan and has been on every list I’ve seen so far of the best books of the year, praised as a masterpiece. The story begins in 1984 in Tokyo but enters an alternate reality, with a love story and references to George Orwell’s 1984.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. This biography is based on more than forty interviews with Jobs over the course of two years, plus interviews with more than a hundred people who knew him. It is being called the definitive biography of the late technological innovator – and is described as having an intensity that matches Jobs’.

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht. This novel was a finalist for the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction, despite being a debut novel by a 26-year-old. Set in eastern Europe, the book examines the role of myths and memories in making sense of the tragic past.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This fantasy novel involves a love story between circus magicians who have been trained since childhood to compete against each other.

We also own copies of In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson, Bossypants by Tina Fey, and many of the other books that you’ll find listed as the best of 2011.

One trouble you’ll find with books that are wonderful, however: many of them never make it to our shelf of new books. When a book is in high demand, it often goes from person to person on the waiting list, and you won’t find it by browsing the shelf until its popularity has died down. If there’s a book you’ve seen listed as one of the best of the year and you’d like to read it, I suggest you check our catalog or ask a library staff member for help, because there’s a good chance that you’ll need to reserve it. We’d be glad to help.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Stuff Their Stockings With Books!

By Jan Pease

There are so many lists to suggest gifts at this time of year, but I have a few suggestions of gifts to give to book lovers.

If you want to give a gift to a young adult who loved the “Hunger Games” series, try the first two books in the “Matched” series, by Ally Condie. The titles in the series are “Matched” and “Crossed.” The third book will be out next year. I’m reading “Matched” at the present time. So far, there’s not as much violence as the characters lived through in “Hunger Games,” but the oppression is subtle and in some ways, more terrifying. The “Society” makes every decision for its citizens, from what they wear, what they learn, where they work, what they eat and who they marry. The citizens die on their eightieth birthday. The one hundred most important poems, songs, artworks, historical events are all that the citizens know, and the ability to write has been lost thanks to keyboarding and cutting and pasting. The heroine, Cassia, is matched with her perfect match, but then something happens that makes her (somewhat) comfortable life unravel.

Diana Gabaldon has a book coming out on November 29th, The Scottish Prisoner. This is really part of the “Lord John Grey” series rather than the “Outlander” series. The next book in the “Outlander” series is “Written in My Own Heart’s Blood,” which will come out in 2013. This confusion between her series has completely ruined my plan of pre-ordering what I thought was the next “Outlander” book for a family member. So as a gift, perhaps I’ll recommend to myself to find the rest of the “Lord John Grey” and put them under the tree for said family member. Used books are a great resource for those of us who want to purchase an entire series of books.

If you are buying a gift for a fan of picture books, and want a pop-up book that will well, make their eyes pop, choose anything by Robert Sabuda. A friend gave me his extraordinary “Christmas ABC,” which I have already opened and enjoyed, even though Christmas is weeks away. The engineering and artistic brilliance of his pop-up books delights me, and I have a private collection. Someday I should bring them here so everyone can enjoy them, but I’m too selfish to share.

Another favorite picture book is “Gingerbread Friends,” by Jan Brett. Based on the traditional version of the Gingerbread Boy, this is a kinder, gentler version that includes a recipe to make your own gingerbread and a huge foldout at the end of an entire gingerbread village full of gingerbread friends. Yes, it’s almost too sweet, but Jan Brett’s illustrations alone could tell the story.

If a family member has a Nook or a Kindle, you might consider buying a gift card at either Barnes and Nobel or These can be purchased online, and used to add books to an e-reader throughout the year.

Take time during the hustle and bustle of the next weeks to share a book with someone you love. I’ll see you at the library!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Closed for Thanksgiving

We will be closed on Thursday, November 24, for Thanksgiving.  We will be open on Friday, November 25.

Story times will take place as usual on Wednesday at 10:15 a.m. and Friday at 10 a.m. Thursday evening's story time will be cancelled.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Am So Thankful

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

At the Litchfield Public Library, those of us on the staff are so thankful to work in our wonderful library. Thanks to the efforts and generosity of many, we have a beautiful library building in our community. People who visit from out of town often look around with wide eyes and say, “You have a beautiful library. Is it new?” It truly is something to be proud of, even ten years after it opened.

We are also thankful for the talented people from our community who come in to share their gifts with us. A few weeks ago, we hosted Herbert Chilstrom for a book event. Mr. Chilstrom grew up in Litchfield and is the retired bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Members of his graduating class donated a copy of his new book, A Journey of Grace: The Formation of a Leader and a Church, to our library. When it returns from processing, it will be available for you to check out.

On Monday, November 28, we will be hosting Litchfield author Nancy Paddock in our meeting room at 7 p.m. Nancy’s new book, A Song at Twilight: Of Alzheimer’s and Love, has gotten quite a lot of attention on the Minnesota literary scene. The memoir has been reviewed favorably, even glowingly, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Star Tribune reviewer described it as “lyrically powerful” and a “beautiful, fragile and unforgettably open-hearted effort”. Nancy has been interviewed about the book on Minnesota Public Radio and has made multiple appearances in the Twin Cities, including one at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. We are thankful to claim Nancy as a member of our local arts community and to have her kick off our new round of Legacy programming. I hope you’ll join us the Monday evening after Thanksgiving to hear Nancy discuss her book and, if you’d like, have a copy signed. Our library owns a copy, as well.

Personally, I’m thankful for the challenges and opportunities of my new job as head librarian this year. I am constantly learning new things, meeting new people, and looking for new ways to serve the community. This runs the gamut from the very serious information request to the entertaining community event. I hope you’ll join me for something new and fun: game night at the library. Starting on December 5th, we’ll have a series of game nights on Mondays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. We’ll start with chess on December 5th in the meeting room. Bring your own chess set and meet up with others who want to play. It’s open to all ages and ability levels, and you can come and go as your schedule allows. I’m planning to do evenings of card games, board games, Yu-Gi-Oh, Dungeons & Dragons, Wii Sports, Wii Rock Band, and any other likely candidates. If you have a request, let me know.

Finally, I know that many of us are thankful when new books come in. It’s like Christmas every time we get a delivery of new books, movies, or music. As you prepare your Thanksgiving dinners or make your Christmas baking and entertaining plans, take a look at some of the new resources we have available to you:

Essential Pepin: More than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food by Jacques Pepin

The Best of the Farmer’s Wife Cookbook: Over 400 Blue-Ribbon Recipes

Mad About Macarons: Make Macarons Like the French by Jill Colonna

Whoopies! Fabulous Mix-and-Match Recipes for Whoopie Pies by Susanna Tee

The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso

Bite by Bite: 100 Stylish Little Plates You Can Make for Any Party by Peter Callahan

Heartland: The Cookbook by Judith Fertig

Our library will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but we will be open again on Friday and Saturday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Listen While You Read!

By Jan Pease

Have you discovered the collection of audio books in the children’s department? For several years we have developed this collection, which is a great source of entertainment. But books on cd serve another important role in the library.

Struggling readers often benefit by listening to a book while reading the print version. This works best if the audiobook agrees with the text word for word. Our collection of audiobooks for children contains titles that are unabridged to make it easy for the reader to follow along in the book while listening to the words as they are seen. Our collection isn’t perfect, but I try to have both the book and cd version of a title available.

New, wonderful audiobooks include “Dave the Potter,” by Laban Carrick Hill. This wonderful picture book describes the slave who created pottery in the 1800s in South Carolina.

“Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade,” by Stephanie Greene and Stephanie Sisson, “Otis,” by Loren Long, and “Bear’s Loose Tooth,” by Karma Wilson are audiobooks of picture books suitable for younger readers.

“Troublemaker,” by Andrew Clements, is for slightly older students. Andrew Clements writes stories about school, a subject he understands because he taught school for seven years before beginning his career in publishing and writing. The audiobook version is narrated by Keith Knobs, who has appeared in movies, television and live theater.

We also received some interesting print titles this week which are suitable for older readers.

“Five Ancestors,” by Jeff Stone, is a series of seven books that follow young adventurers with martial arts skills, who find their destiny after their monastery is destroyed. This series received a lukewarm reception from professional reviewers, but is loved by the young readers who discover it. I purchased it because boys requested it and told friends about the series. I recommend these books for anyone who likes adventure novels, but especially for reluctant readers. Titles in the series include “Tiger,” “Monkey,” “Snake,” “Crane,” “Eagle,” “Mouse,” and “Dragon.”

“Silence,” by Becca Fitzpatrick, continues the “Hush, Hush” series that has become very popular with teens. I purchased this series because of the number of students requesting it. Fans of the “Twilight” series tend to love this romance with fallen angels as the paranormal twist.

Whether you’re looking for audio books or a romance to sink your teeth into, Litchfield library has something for you. I’ll see you at the library!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Closed for Veterans Day

Pioneerland libraries are closed for Veterans Day, November 11th.  We will be open on Saturday, November 12th.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Have You Discovered All the Areas of the Library?

By Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
I spent the first three days of November becoming intimately acquainted with our library’s collection. I touched nearly every one of the adult fiction books that were in the building while we did inventory. I feel a lot like I do after painting a room: lots of reaching and crouching to get to everything on the shelves.

Thank you for your patience while we were closed. We did need all three days, but we got it done. We had two people here from Pioneerland headquarters to help us the first day, but the rest of the time our regular staff were the only ones hard at work, scanning every single item with a barcode in the building. Now we wait for the reports that will tell us which things are in the wrong place, which missing things we found, and which missing things we’d better give up on because they weren’t found. It will be interesting. It should greatly improve our records, after ten years without an inventory.

We handled each section of the library’s collection separately. I wonder if you’ve discovered all of the different places we keep different kinds of items.

Based on the dust, I suspect that our oversized book section is rarely discovered. It’s tucked back against the wall behind the adult computers and the reference shelves, near the small study room. This is a shelf of books that are too big to fit on our regular shelves. They’re all adult nonfiction. Mostly they’re art and history books, with some other books on countries and continents, space, and cooking. I found a giant book on dinosaurs that I’m going to check out for my family, and I thought I’d already looked at every dinosaur book we had here. If you like coffee table books with lots of big pictures, I suggest you browse this hidden collection.

Next to the oversized books, we have a shelf of great books, from Sophocles to Dostoyevsky. I plan to take a look at these to see if the titles have newer duplicates in our regular collection. I suspect that they never get checked out. If you’re a fan of the classics and didn’t know we had this set available to you, take a look at the shelf on that back wall.

Between these back shelves and the computers, we have our reference section. You can find the current Minnesota Statutes and Minnesota Rules, Leonard Maltin’s 2012 movie guide, a current catalogue of collectible postage stamps, and the 2011 CIA World Factbook. It’s my goal to get the outdated books off of those shelves so that we all can easily see the useful things. Some information is just not available on the internet, and it can really be handy to have a well-organized book.

Moving over to the back wall of our rows of adult books, we have our large print collection. All of our large print fiction is here, with the exception of the newest things, which are on the shelf with other new books near the lobby. At the end of the large print hardcovers, we have a few larger print paperbacks. If you need large print or you’d like to be free from your reading glasses while you read a novel, check out this section.

Going past our large print section, you’ll find our adult paperbacks. Some patrons don’t realize we have this section, since it’s in the back corner. If you do a catalog search and find an adult paperback that you want, this is where you’ll find it. Some popular authors have books in our adult hardcovers, adult paperbacks, and large print sections. If you’re just browsing for books by a particular author without doing a catalog search, you’ll want to check all three sections.

Our inspirational/Christian fiction novels have their own special section at the end of the regular adult fiction. If you like to read books by authors like Wanda Brunstetter, Melody Carlson, and Karen Kingsbury, this is where you’ll find them.

Right next to our front desk on the children’s side, you’ll find a shelf of Spanish materials. Most of them are children’s books. A few are adult nonfiction. If you read Spanish or are studying it, I hope you’ll take a look at this special collection.

If you haven’t explored our whole library, I hope you’ll wander around and find some spots you’ve never found before. Or you can always ask a staff member for help finding something. We’ll be glad to guide you.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Library closing for 3 days

The Litchfield Public Library will be closed for inventory on the following days:
  • Tuesday, November 1
  • Wednesday, November 2
  • Thursday, November 3
We are open Monday evening until 8 p.m., and we'll re-open on Friday at 10 a.m.

If you have a meeting currently scheduled in the large meeting room, that will still take place.  You will be able to get to the meeting room but not the rest of the library. 

Story times are cancelled for Wednesday morning and Thursday evening.  We will have preschool storyhour on Friday at 10 a.m.

Our computers will not be available.  The WiFi will still work.  People have found that it works when they're parked in our parking lot.

You can still return books and movies in our outside book drop.  Those items will be stored until Friday.  On Friday morning, we will check in everything that has been returned as though it came in on Monday.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Tale as Old as Time, Almost

By Jan Pease, children's librarian at Litchfield library

I’m looking forward to this week’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” at our local high school. Elle Dinius, who plays Belle, is our page, shelving books in between classes and rehearsals.  Philip Hansen, who plays the Beast, is the son of staff member Mary Hansen.  We’re proud of “our” kids!  The story of "Beauty and the Beast" has been told in countless versions, and the Litchfield library is a great place to check out a few.

One of the first items I found was an interesting movie version, "Belle et la Bête," a French movie made 65 years ago.  The dvd also includes an opera composed by Philip Glass with a sound track of his rich and interesting music added to the original movie.  The movie is based on the version originally written in 1756 by French author Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont while she served as a governess in Scotland. Director Jean Cocteau created this masterpiece which is a fairy tale for adults rather than children. Be sure to read the booklet that accompanies the dvd, which is full of interesting information about the making of the movie, as well as the original story by de Beaumont.   Cocteau said “My aim would be to make the Beast so human, so sympathetic, so superior to men, that his transformation into Prince Charming would come as a terrible blow to Beauty, condemning her to a humdrum marriage and a future that I summed up in that last sentence of all fairy tales: ‘And they had many children.’”  He certainly was not making a movie for those children!

One of my favorite video versions of the story is an episode from Shelley Duvall's FaerieTale Theatre.   Susan Sarandon plays Belle and the great actor Klaus Kinski plays the beast.  This film was made in the mid-1980s but is timeless.

One of my favorite book versions of the story is “Beauty: a Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast” by Robin McKinley.  This is an older book, a young adult novel written more than 30 years ago.  Many of the elements of the Disney version are in this one, including the fantastic library. 

 A lovely version of the fairytale with art by the great Mercer Mayer was published in 1978.  The text was written by Marianna Mayer, who happened to be Mercer Mayer’s first wife.  I just learned of the connection today.  Anyway, the paintings in this version are breathtaking.

Author and illustrator Jan Brett published a version of the tale in 1989.  Again, the familiar story is told with illustrations in Brett’s unique style.  I looked for it on, and discovered that a new hardcover copy can be purchased for $137.00 to $237.00. Oh my.

 Donna Jo Napoli wrote an interesting version of the story, “Beast,” set in Persia and told from the point of view of the beast. Published in 2000, it gives a completely different look at the familiar story. 

In 2006, Max Eilenberg wrote and  Angela Barrett illustrated their version of the story, in which the beast is a grotesquely haunting creature.

In 2007, the book, "Beastly," by Alex Flinn, was published and then reprinted in 2011 with the release of the movie based on Flinn’s book.  Reviews were mixed.  It remains to be seen if it will stand the test of time like Cocteau’s master work.

Of course, the library has a copy of the Disney animated version of "Beauty and the Beast," which was followed by several animated sequels, each one going farther and farther from the basic structure of the story.  I wonder if, like Jean Cocteau, today’s fans are more interested in Belle’s life with the Beast than her life with her human prince.    These interesting versions of the classic story are waiting for you at the Litchfield library.  See you there!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Herb Chilstrom book event today

The book event with Herbert Chilstrom is from 12- 2 p.m. in our meeting room.  The time listed in last week's Independent Review was incorrect.  Herb will speak at 12:30 and be available to talk to visitors and sell and sign his book, A Journey of Grace, for the rest of the time.  Herb is a former bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who grew up in Litchfield.  We hope you will drop in!

Friday, October 21, 2011

We Prepare for Inventory and I Attend a Library Conference

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The Litchfield Public Library will be closed for inventory for three days at the beginning of November: November 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. It has been about ten years since our last inventory, and it desperately needs to be done. We have to close because no items can be checked in or out while the records are being updated. All the same, we know it will be very inconvenient to our customers for us to be closed.

I hope that you’ll be able to plan ahead for the things you’ll need on those days. We’ll be open on Monday, October 31st, and again on Friday, November 4th. The meetings scheduled for the large meeting room will still take place Tuesday through Thursday, because we can close the lobby gates and make just the meeting room accessible to the public. The rest of the library will be unavailable, including our computers. Wednesday morning’s toddler story time and Thursday evening’s family story time will be cancelled for November 2nd and 3rd, but we will have preschool story hour on Friday morning, November 4th.

You will still be able to return your books and other items in our outside book drop. When we open on Friday the 4th, the things that have been returned during the days we're closed will be checked in as though they were returned on Monday the 31st. This will actually give you a few extra days on your items that week. In fact, I plan to be liberal with due dates and movie check-out limits a few days ahead of inventory; the more that we have checked out and the fewer returns that are waiting in stacks for us to return to normal business that Friday, the better.

Other Pioneerland libraries will be open while we’re closed, so you could use the Grove City, Dassel, or Hutchinson libraries that week. If you plan to check out movies at those other libraries, return your Litchfield movies to them so that you don't go over your 6-movie limit.  And of course, you can also use our e-books and downloadable audiobooks while our building is closed.

The library stayed open, obviously, and ran smoothly while I was away at the Minnesota Library Association (MLA) conference from October 12th to 14th. This was the first time I’ve attended this conference, and it was wonderful. Librarians from public, academic, and special libraries throughout the state came together in Duluth for professional development. I attended sessions on summer reading programs, teaching computer skills to older adults, e-books, customer-focused library design, MLA’s leadership development program, and great new books to recommend to patrons. I learned so much.

One keynote speaker spoke about the influence that children’s books have on people’s lives. Another talked about gaming at the library, which has inspired me to consider a series of gaming nights here; I also happened to get a request for such a thing from a patron the same week. Our closing keynote speaker was William Kent Krueger, one of our best Minnesota authors. In the midst of all of this, I got a bit of an orientation to the MLA organization, attended a meeting of rural librarians, met some Minnesota mystery authors, and listened to some potential Legacy performers. One of the best things about attending the conference was the opportunity to talk with librarians from all over the state and find out how they’re handling some of the same issues we face. When we share ideas, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel to improve our services.

Because of the high level of unemployment in Meeker County, and because of their efforts in applying, one library staff member from Grove City and one from Dassel won scholarships to MLA from Project Compass. They both attended workshops on meeting the needs of our communities during this economic downturn, helping job seekers, and supporting small business development. They’ll be sharing this training with the rest of the library staff in Meeker County and probably with all of Pioneerland Library System. I’m hopeful that this will be beneficial to all of our communities.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Four Guest Book Reviewers and Jan Pease

It’s time to share some book reviews. Four young adults have read and reviewed books. Thank you Cullen, Jennah, Amber Marie, and Raechel, for sharing your love of reading with us. Here are their reviews, with tidbits of information inserted here and there.

Cullen read “Hatchet,” which is classic Gary Paulsen. Cullen said, “It is really enjoyable and I like how he has a lot of problems so far!” “Hatchet” was published in 1987 but still resonates with readers who wonder how a boy could survive so many weeks on his own in the northern wilderness. Cullen also read “Fourth Grade Celebrity,” by Patricia Reilly Giff. In Cullen’s own words, “This book was awesome! The plot is funny and entertaining. The main character in the story faces a lot of challenges… I strongly suggest this book to any kid!” This book is another classic book that is still read more than 30 years after its first printing.

Jennah is a huge fan of Michelle Paver’s series, “The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness.” She reviewed each book in the series of six books. Here are the books and Jennah’s thoughts about each one. “Wolf Brother,” “a book that begins a series. Good read with adventure, loyalty, friendship and lots of bravery. Good read that has lots of excitement.” “Spirit Walker,” “an exciting book that takes you to a camp on an island. Lots of suspense, adventure, betrayal, loyalty and much more. An exciting read that will keep you turning the pages.” “Soul Eater,” “an exciting book that takes you into a whole new world. A good read with lots of suspense.” “Outcast,” “a good book that helps you understand what the series is about. It keeps you up reading all night long with suspense, and action. This book is good for readers that enjoy fantasy and excitement.” “Ghost Hunter,” “this book concludes “The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness” series. It is suspenseful and will keep you on the end of your chair the whole way through. It is a good mixture with suspense, friendship, loyalty, adventure, and even a little bit of romance.”

Jennah also read “Tuesdays with Morrie,” by Mitch Albom. She wrote, “A story that teaches you a lesson. With Morrie diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, Mitch, a former student of Morrie’s, begins to come over for life lessons from his former professor. A good book for life lessons, friendship that never dies, and family.”

Amber Marie read “Strange Angels,” by Lili St. Crow. She wrote, “It is a really hard book to put down because it’s that wonderful. Dru Anderson is a girl who lost her mom, dad, and grandma and must protect herself from creatures you only dream about.” Amber also reviewed “Forgotten: Seventeen and Homeless,” by Melody Carlson. She wrote, “Adele gets a chance at a new start, then her world starts crashing down. With no parent, no home, and no money. Plus lots of lies. She finally goes to church and gets in a nice home and the best part: God in her life!”

Raechel reviewed the book, “Prison to Praise,” by Merlin Carothors, first published in 1970, but still timely today. Raechel said, “As I read this book, I gained more knowledge on many different things, but especially on the importance of praising the Lord in everything, as well as the power of prayer. Mr. Carothers wrote of the prayers he prayed over people, and for himself, and how God answered. It gives proof that the Lord is in control of everything, and will answer the cry of His children. I am certain that this book has helped me grow in my walk with Christ.”

Finally, Raechel reviewed the book, “Rachel’s Tears,” by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott. In Raechel’s words, “This was a non-fiction, biography about one of the 13 victims of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, whose name was Rachel Scott. She was 17 when she was shot, but lived a faithful life, devoted to the Lord. Her story, told by her parents, along with excerpts from her own journals, was and is very inspiring, and much can be taken from it. She was so devoted to Christ, giving Him her all, which is something we need to all strive for.”

Our reviewers range in age from only 11 years old through age 16. I love to see them develop their own voices, and look forward to more from them in the future. See you at the library!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Researching Your Family History

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Have you gotten involved in researching your ancestors? We get many people from near and far who come into our library to work on their genealogy. The main attraction is our collection of local newspaper microfilm and our modern microfilm reader, purchased last year with a grant from the Minnesota Historical Society. If you’ve had experience printing from microfilm or microfiche on an old reader, you’ll appreciate how nice it is to use a computer and regular printer instead. You can even save images from the microfilm to your memory stick or email them from our computer, if you can access your email away from home.

We have a collection of microfilmed newspapers from 1871 to 2008: Meeker County News, Litchfield News Ledger, Litchfield Saturday Review, Litchfield Independent, and the Litchfield Independent Review. We also have the Meeker County Old Settlers’ Association Papers and a few local census documents on microfilm, adding up to about 140 rolls in our collection. If you’d like to use microfilm of newspapers from other locations around Minnesota, we can help you order those from the Minnesota Historical Society. They’ll loan them out for use in our library.

We have a small collection of local history books for use in the library, also. One that is used frequently is Meeker County, Minnesota cemeteries, compiled by Diane Rosenow, copyright 1993. It’s actually a two-volume index to people buried in Meeker County cemeteries. We have a few other local history, biography, and plat book volumes, mostly stored behind the desk. Ask a staff member for assistance if you’d like to use these or the microfilm.

To get to the real genealogy experts in town, walk a half a block north from the library and visit the Meeker County Historical Society Museum/GAR Hall. They are open Tuesday to Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. They offer an obituary database, a cemetery database, plat books, school records, military records, high school yearbooks, and a fee-based genealogy research service.

If you’d like to learn some general techniques of genealogy research or find some new sources, you can take a look in our library at some books like the following, or just browse the 929 section:

The genealogist’s address book: state and local resources: with special resources including ethnic & religious organizations. Bentley, Elizabeth Petty. c2009.

Tracing your Irish family history. Adolph, Anthony. c2009.

Tracing your family history: The complete guide to locating your ancestors and finding out where you came from. Hull, Lise. c2006.

You can search our library catalog or catalogs in other libraries using subject headings like these:

• Genealogy

• Minnesota – Genealogy

• Cemeteries

• Registers of births, etc.

Finally, there are many good internet resources now, which have made genealogy research much easier than it used to be. The big one is Family Search,, which is a massive genealogy database from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s free to use and available to anyone, regardless of religious affiliation. is another huge collection of genealogy resources, from scans of original census records to family trees that members have created from their own research. You have to pay for a membership, but they offer a free trial, and they have a collection of free records at Rootsweb,

We have a handout listing these resources and more next to our microfilm reader. Pick up a copy if you’d like to find some places to get started with your family research.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Campaign for Media-Savvy Kids

By Jan Pease

Perhaps because my husband and I are of an age that, for our contemporaries, includes one or more grandchildren, I notice that we both enjoy watching parents interact with their children.  At the library, I especially enjoy watching little boys imitate their daddies as they walk out the door.  I also enjoy watching parents and children shop.  I was in a store last week and heard a child exclaim, “There it is!”  I looked around to see what interesting thing he was talking about, and it was a bright pink cleaning appliance!

Recently I observed a little boy, who should certainly be a salesman someday, trying to convince his dad that they should buy a certain brand of frozen pastries, because they are the best!  I looked up this brand, and one pastry has 170 calories, and 7 grams of fat.  Since one of these delicious treats isn’t very filling, it would be easy to consume 340 calories, with 14 grams of fat. Did I mention the 50 grams of carbohydrate, including 18 grams of sugar in two pastries? One of the other pop up pastries, not frozen, has a whopping 210 calories in a single serving. 

A packet of instant oatmeal also has about 170 calories, but only 1.5 grams of fat, plus the high fiber content is good for you and sticks to your ribs all day.  It also has a lot of sugar added, which is why I eat plain oatmeal.  But I digress.  What is the point of this? 

Why don’t children campaign for oatmeal?  How does a young child know that a brand of frozen pastries is better than the other pop up pastries?   How does a child know that a pink cleaning appliance is the one?   I’m not declaring war on toaster pastries or pink cleaning appliances.   I think I might be declaring war on TV commercials that target our children! 

How can we raise children who are media savvy in a world where we are all bombarded with commercial messages that promise better, brighter, cleaner, more delicious, gotta have it?   An important part of literacy is learning to think critically.  Applying critical thinking skills to media has led to a term that is new to me: media literacy.  I found an interesting essay about teaching children to think critically about advertisements on the Scholastic website for teachers, . Go to the website and search for Media Savvy Kids.  The article, by Meg Lundstrom, originally appeared in the November/December 2004 issue of Instructor magazine, but it is still very appropriate for 2011.

 I really like these five questions that could help open a great discussion about what advertisers are really trying to do.

5 Media-Savvy Questions That Kids Should Ask
1. Who created this message?
2. What creative techniques are used to get  attention?
3. How might different people interpret this message?
4. What lifestyles, values, and points of view are in this message?
    What was left out and why?
5. Why is this message being sent?
These are questions we all should ask, as we model making good choices every day. 

My next task is to find books on this subject, because when I searched the catalog for books to help children become media-savvy, I didn’t find any books in the Litchfield children’s collection.  You might try “Teach Your Kids to Think!: Simple Tools You Can Use Every Day”  by Maria Chesley Fisk, in the adult area at 155.413.  In the meantime, please talk with your children about what they see  on TV.  See you at the library!  

Friday, September 23, 2011

Free ebook lending now available for Kindle

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

I have two important things to tell you about our ebook lending service. It’s free to use. And it’s now available for Kindle users.

We don’t charge for the privilege of using our downloadable book service. We loan our ebooks and downloadable audios in much the same way that we loan our print books and books on CD. If you have a Pioneerland library card in good standing, you check them out with your barcode for free. There’s no charge to download the software. There are not even any late fees, because the downloadable books return themselves on their due dates, unless you go into your software and return your ebooks early.

I’ve discovered that the reason people think we charge for our ebooks is because there’s another library’s website that looks like it could be ours, and that particular Litchfield Public Library charges $20 to use their ebook service. If you do a Google search of “litchfield public library”, your first result may be the library in Litchfield, Illinois. They are a Carnegie library founded in 1904, like we are. They are still in their original building, but it was remodeled around 2000, like our current building was. Their hours are nearly identical to ours. And they have the same Overdrive ebook button as we do. I can understand how multiple people have believed it was our website. The internet makes the world very small. It’s just as easy to get to the website for a library in another state as it is to get to ours.

To be sure you’re going to our ebook service, go to We have bookmarks at our desk that have this URL on them; pick one up if you want a handy way to remember the address.

And if you’re looking for our local website, go to I’ve added our address and phone number to the top of the page to make it more clear that we are the Litchfield Public Library in Minnesota, not the one in Connecticut, or Illinois, or Nebraska, or Arizona…. You get the idea.

The big ebook news for the week is that library lending for Kindles is finally here. We knew it was coming, but we didn’t know when. Amazon and Overdrive have been developing this for a few months, and now they’re slowly and quietly rolling it out to all of the libraries who use Overdrive for ebooks. It just became available to us on the 22nd. Now when you click on an ebook title, you’ll see two formats: Kindle and Adobe EPUB. If you have a Kindle or use a Kindle app, download the Kindle version. I haven’t tried it myself, but I understand that part of the process will bring you to Amazon’s site, and that you may have to login with your Amazon account. One thing that is different about borrowing a library book for your Kindle versus buying one from Amazon is that you can’t download using your 3G connection. To borrow a Kindle library book, you need to be using WiFi or have your Kindle connected to your personal computer by a cable.

Now all of you who bought Kindles, but then regretted not being able to use it for library books, can join in on the fun. I think it was a smart business move by Amazon to make this possible.

If you have suggestions about ebooks or downloadable audiobooks that you’d like to see us offer, let me know. The purchasing is done centrally at Pioneerland headquarters, but they welcome suggestions.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Plethora of Picture Books, by Jan Pease

If a group of crows is a murder of crows, and a group of zebras is a zeal of zebras, what is the collective noun for picture books? 

Picture books are only getting more beautiful, and here is a bevy of beauties.

A rabble of butterflies swarms in “Butterflies,” by Seymour Simon. Kirkus Reviews states: “Simon may have done more than any other living author to help us understand and appreciate the beauty of our planet and our universe.” 

 A group of caterpillars is called an army.  Marilyn Singer uses her poem, “Caterpillars” to frame close up views of caterpillars and the butterflies they transform into. An army of 10 caterpillars, the plants they love and the butterfly or moth they become is the focus of “10 Little Caterpillars,”  by Bill Martin Jr. and Lois Ehlert.  They are the creators of the classic children’s book, “Chicka Chicka Boom  Boom,” and their new book looks like an instant classic.

A pack of dogs is featured in a very unusual book by Michael J. Rosen, “The Hound Dog’s Haiku.” These are poems for dog lovers.  My own dog, Harley,  is a Shit Tsu who loves his squeaky toys.  Here is the Shit Tsu Haiku:
                 toy dog’s own toy chest:
                 snowman, hedgehog, fake steak, jet-
                 squeak is all they speak

“What Puppies Do Best” is an adorable picture book by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger.  A litter of puppies of all breeds, sizes, and shapes romps across the pages as they play with cute children.  What could  be sweeter?

Gorgeous photographs by Jason Stemple are paired with the poetry of Jane Yolen in “Birds of a Feather.”  Yolen captures the personality of each bird perfectly.  This congregation of birds is well worth a look. 

“A B C Animal Jamboree,” by Giles Andreae  is a collection of short, silly poems about animals that will delight  even the youngest animal lovers.  This menagerie will be featured at story hour this week.

By the way, the collective noun for a group of books is library.  These fantastic picture books, and more, are waiting for you.  See you there! 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

An Ebook Update

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
Our downloadable ebook and audiobook service is catching on!  In Pioneerland, we just got started in June.  We now have had about 500 unique patrons use the service.  There have been 1200 checkouts so far.   We currently have 458 items in our electronic collection, and we’re adding more all the time.
We’re able to get some “best-seller” lists to see what’s popular in Pioneerland downloadables.  The books that have been checked out the most since our website rolled out are the ebook version of Bad Blood by John Sanford and the audiobook of Heaven is for Real.  The titles that are most in demand right now are The Help, Split Second, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
I know many of you are getting started with library ebooks and need a little guidance on how it works.  Here are some of the important things to know:
You can get to our Overdrive website by going to our catalog, choosing “Download ebooks” below the search boxes, and clicking on the box that says “Downoad audiobooks, eBooks”.  From there, you can browse the new titles, search for a particular book, download the software you need to borrow books, or find answers to your questions.  You can also go directly to  We also have a mobile site with a very long URL.  We have a link to it on our Litchfield Library blog if you’d like to find it for your mobile device.
One question we’re often asked is which readers and devices our downloadables can be used on.  You can find out by clicking on the blue “compatible devices” button on the left side of the Overdrive site.  You’ll find that most e-readers, MP3 players, and computers work with it.  Kindle still doesn’t work with it, but Amazon is saying that it will by the end of the year.  You can also download to an iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, and a variety of other devices. 
There is some variation in how you download to different devices and which titles work with which device.  If you have an e-reader, such as a Nook or Sony e-reader, you’ll need to download Adobe Digital Editions to your personal computer.  You can do this by clicking on “Adobe Digital Editions for eBooks”, under “Getting Started” on the top left corner of the Overdrive site.  It’s very quick and easy.  You will need to set up an Adobe ID as part of that process, but that just involves registering an email address with Adobe, which will come up as you download the software. 
Once you have the software set up, you check out ebooks on your personal computer and transfer them to your e-reader while it’s attached by its cable.  It isn’t possible to download to library computers and transfer books to your e-reader; it has to be done on your own computer.
If you want to download audiobooks, you’ll need to install Overdrive Media Console, which is also listed under “Getting Started” in the corner.  Again, you’ll check them out on your computer and transfer them to your MP3 player, much like iTunes and other music download services.  Some audiobook titles will work on one device but not another.  They will also work on e-readers, but it all depends on which formats your e-reader or MP3 player handles.  Some of the audiobooks are in WMA format, and some are MP3.  Once you figure out what your device can play, you’ll be able to look at each title to see if it will work for you.  Some audiobooks can be burned to CDs; this depends on publisher permissions. 
If you are going to download to a mobile device such as an Android or iPad, you will download Overdrive Media Console to your device directly.  Then you check out books on your mobile device, without a need to connect it to a computer. 
If you click on the “guided tour” or “help/FAQs” button on our Overdrive website, you’ll find answers to many of your questions.  If you need more help, talk to our library staff or send a support request through the help page.
Downloading books seems so complicated until you get started.  Once you iron out the wrinkles of getting the first book onto your device, it’s really easy.  Then when you want a new book to read on Saturday night, you don’t have to wait until the library is open.  Or if you’re snowed in (if we even want to think about that in September), you can check out a book without leaving the comfort of your home.  I hope you’ll give it a try!

Friday, September 2, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation!

Shoreline in Front of Outpost Motel, Grand Marais, MN
borrowed from their website
By Jan Pease
Everyone agrees that summer has gone incredibly fast, but why, when you have a week off in a beautiful location, does time go even faster?   Dave, Becca and I just returned from a week on the North Shore, so this is our annual “what’s in the book bag” confessional.

My husband Dave is reading the “Sharpe’s Rifle” series by Bernard Cornwall, and also the series, “Game of Thrones,” by George R.R. Martin.  He brought three books plus his Bible, which goes everywhere he does.  We celebrated his birthday by adding to his book pile.

Becca brought her usual selection of geology, botany, and natural history books.  To celebrate a friendly fresh water otter that visited “our” shoreline, she bought a copy of Stan Teikala’s “Mammals of Minnesota Field Guide.”  Her other reading selections are on her notebook, because she downloads novels from various sources.  She’s an avid Pioneerland ebook fan and often is on waiting lists for popular ebooks from Pioneerland and from Hennepin County Library. 

And as for me, I brought my Nook, which has now 60 books including two Bibles, a cookbook, and too many other choices to choose from.  I started reading the best-selling “In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin,” by Erik Larson and “The Sleepwalkers,” by Paul Grossman.  Both were recommended to me by a patron, and it is interesting to read both a non-fiction account and a novel set during the rise of Hitler’s Germany in the early 1930’s.  I’m reading “Dug Down Deep,” by Joshua Harris, recommended by Raechel (see Litchfield Independent Review August 25th edition). I wish this had been the book we used in theology classes instead of the tomes I struggled through in college.   I can’t leave out “The Name of the Wind,” by Patrick Rothfuss.  This is simply a great fantasy read.  I can’t wait to get through this one, so I can read his second book, “Wise Man’s Fear,” which was published in March of this year. I’m also re-reading the “Girl Who Played With Fire,” by Stieg Larsson.  I read it last year but can’t remember a lot of it. 

Every day I watched Lake Superior in its (her?) many moods.  One day waves crashed on the rocks, the next it was quiet; cool one day, warm the next.   We watched spindly fingers of fog stretch toward the pine trees on the shore and then suddenly evaporate in warm sunshine.   One day a bank of fog made an interesting shade of gray/pink/lavender against the blue water that made me wish I was an artist who could capture colors with paint.

A highlight of this trip was visiting the studio of a real artist, Betsy Bowen.  She is famous for her woodcuts, and her gallery also features other local artists.  Betsy was there the day we visited, friendly and gracious about my star-struck state.  We have her books in the children’s collection, and I purchased an autographed copy of “Great Wolf and the Good Woodsman” to replace our worn edition.

Our hosts, Jim and Jennifer Plahuta of the Outpost Motel, were accommodating as always.  They provided everything we needed to be very comfortable without hovering.  As I talked to other guests at this family-owned motel, I discovered that many of us make a yearly visit, bringing along books and dogs, kids and grandchildren.  To our little dog Harley’s dismay, there were several canine guests with their owners.  He tends to think of it as his place, and after several visits, I feel the same way. 

See you at the library!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Resources for Parents and Students at the Library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
As we begin a new school year, there are many things to be excited about and sometimes a few things to be concerned about.  Our children get older and face new challenges.  Maybe they’ve had some difficulty with schoolwork or trouble with classmates.  One place I’ve always looked for help is at the library.  You can find books on all different kinds of parenting and educational issues.  There are also online sources of help available.
One new electronic resource that is newly available to Pioneerland cardholders is  You can get to it by going to and typing in your library barcode.  Live, one-on-one help is available from 2 p.m. to midnight.  You can even upload a paper for a tutor to work on with you.  There are resources to use on the site that are available all the time, including homework resources, SAT, ACT, and GED test prep guides, and even resume and interview guidance.  I took a quick look in the homework resources and found that you can choose a subject, like English, a school level, like elementary, and a more specific subject, like capitalization and punctuation.  Following that path, I found capitalization rules, a lesson in contractions, and some games that help teach capitalization and punctuation.  If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, you can download an app for the site.  I hope you’ll try it out!
We also have some new books at the Litchfield Library that may help parents to help and guide their children.  The book Red Flags or Red Herrings: Predicting Who Your Child Will Become is intriguing for parents who wonder how the traits they see in their child will affect their future.  The author, Susan Engel, is a developmental psychologist, educator, and mother.  She encourages parents to accept their children’s inborn traits, intervene for some issues, but to have perspective and not overreact about others. 
Nolo’s IEP Guide: Learning Disabilities is a legal guide written for parents.  Nolo is the premier publisher for legal books written for those of us who aren’t lawyers.  This book is a guide to advocating for your child who has a learning disability, understanding your child’s legal rights, developing an individualized education program, and resolving disputes with your school district. 
If you’re a homeschooler, you may be interested in Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything.  The author,  Laura Grace Weldon, advocates what she calls natural learning.  Falling somewhere between structured homeschooling and unschooling, Weldon recommends following the child’s interests, using meaningful work to teach, and connecting with others as natural ways to learn.  She also emphasizes the importance of play, curiosity, and slowing down.
Our new DVD Stop Bullying: Standing Up for Yourself and Others gives students concrete steps to take to respond to bullying.  This video is intended for students in junior high grades and up.  It shares advice from experts and stories from kids who’ve been in bullying situations.
Whatever kind of parenting or education-related topic you’re looking for, I hope you’ll take a look in our catalog or speak to someone on our staff to help you find something you can use.  And remember to try  Have a great school year!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Raechel says.........

By Jan Pease

I’m introducing a guest book reviewer, 15 year old Raechel Kelly, who graciously agreed to produce three “teen book reviews” as part of “You Are Here” the summer reading program for teenagers.   Raechel is a delightful young person who happens to be an avid reader.    
One of her selections is the book, “Pearl in the Sand,” by Tessa Afshar.  Raechel says, “This book was an amazing retelling of Rahab, from the Bible, and her story of faith.  As reading it, I found that it really enchanted the Old Testament.  The book is fiction, and so cleverly written.  Ms. Afshar did a beautiful job with this Bible account, and I was blessed to read it.” 
I would add this bit of information from  “Pearl in the Sand” was published in 2010 by Moody Press, and is available at Litchfield Library.  Tessa Afshar was born in a Muslim family in Iran and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. She survived English boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Tessa holds an MDIV from Yale University where she served as co-Chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last twelve years in full and part-time Christian work and currently serves as the leader of Women’s and Prayer ministries at a church in New England.
Another book chosen by Raechel is “Dug Down Deep,” by Joshua Harris. Raechel says, “I highly recommend this book to everyone.  This is a non-fiction read that uncovers a lot of truth, and shows the lies we unknowingly believe.  No matter where you are in this life, you will surely learn something from this book. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and have learned a lot from it.”
Me, again, adding a little more to Raechel’s thoughts.  Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters” was published in 2010 by Multnomah Books.  It is available at and by interlibrary loan through Mnlink.  Joshua Harris writes about matters of faith for young adults and is best known for his books about relationships and dating.        
Raechel’s final selection was an entire series of books, “The Knights of Arrethtrae” by Chuck Black.  Rachel says, “I couldn’t pick just one of the six books to review, so I decided I’d do the whole series.  These books were so great in many ways.  They’re filled with excitement, bravery, courage and most importantly, faith in the Lord.  The books are individual stories of knights and ladies as they go through with their training and missions.  These books blessed me hugely, and encouraged me.”
I would add that this is a series of books published in recent years by Multnomah.  They are available at and by interlibrary loan through Mnlink.  Chuck Black, according to, spent eight years in the Air Force traveling the world as an F-16 fighter pilot and a communications engineer. Today, Chuck is the author of seven novels and a product-design engineer. He has invented or co-invented eleven patented construction products now being sold internationally.   He lives with his family in North Dakota.
Thanks, Raechel, for enthusiastically taking on this challenge.   We’re looking for other teen book reviewers, so please speak to a staff member at the library if you’re interested.   See you at the library!