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.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Small Changes at the Library

By Beth Cronk, head librarian

We’ve had a few small changes at the library recently that I’d like to share with you. The first is temporary, but it will be obvious: we’ve got road construction. Marshall Avenue in front of the library is being blocked off as I write. Most likely it will be a beautiful stretch of street again by mid-summer, and in the meantime you can reach the library by Third Street and get into our parking lot. It’s Minnesota; road construction doesn’t surprise us.

Another change is online. We have a new blog. You can find it at When you go there, you’ll see a beautiful photo of the library that we’re using through a Creative Commons license. You’ll see a list of our hours. And you’ll find the library columns that we publish in the newspaper. If you ever read one that you want to share, there are built-in options to email an article, share it on Facebook or Twitter, or choose another option to share our blog posts with others.

In the bar on the right side of our blog, you’ll find links to the Pioneerland library catalog, to our Litchfield Public Library Facebook page and Twitter account, and to MnKnows, the Minnesota digital library I mentioned in my last article. I hope that having these links handy on the top of our blog will make it a one-stop shop you can go to for library information, the way our former website was. Below those links, you can participate in an American Library Association/public radio survey on your use of the library, subscribe to our blog posts, search the site, and find basic information about the library: our address, phone number and email address. It will all need some tweaking to improve the layout, but Google makes it so easy to create a blog that we were up and running within an hour.

If you go to our former address,, you’ll be re-directed to This is our Chamber of Commerce page, where you can still find our contact information and a link to the Pioneerland catalog. Whether you go from the Chamber’s page or our Litchlibrary blog, you can get to the catalog to search or to sign into your account.

Here’s another small change, this one a physical change inside the library: we’re in the process of separating our DVDs from our VHS tapes and our CDs from our cassettes. The largest sections, the movies and audio books on the adult side, are done. The rest will shift as we have time. We’re preparing for an inventory later this year which will require the formats to be separated. I think it’s a positive change that I plan to keep permanently. We’ve had requests in the past to separate the audio books this way so that patrons can look for just the format they can use. I hope that this will help you if you only have a DVD player or a VCR and not the other, so that you can browse the format you’re using.

We’ve also started adding “new” stickers to the newest movies and audio books on the adult side so that you can spot new releases, or at least new additions to our collection. I’ve added some classics, and we’ve gotten many wonderful donations recently, so some of those will be tagged as new items, as well.

One last change that I hope you’ll enjoy is the addition of a few popular music CDs to our mostly-classical CD collection. I’ve started working from lists of core music collections for small public libraries, adding just one a month. You’ll find two significant Beatles albums on our shelf now – without the CDs themselves, which are stored behind the desk like DVDs. Recently someone donated a Jonas Brothers CD, so that’s been added for a little bit of recent music.

I would be thrilled to accept donations of music CDs that you no longer want. We can’t accept cassettes or vinyl records, and we can never promise to add donations to our collection until we’ve had a chance to review them. But I would love to grow our music collection faster than our budget will allow, and your music donations could be great assets to the library. Please keep in mind that if you’ve copied a CD onto your MP3 player, you should keep the original instead of giving it to us. Copyright law forbids copying music that belongs to someone else, and if the library owns the CD, it’s illegal to make a copy of it for yourself. But if you don’t listen to it anymore or you’ve gone to all iTunes, all the time, we’ll be glad to receive it.

With a new manager, there are always some changes, and other changes are driven by outside forces. My goal is to keep our library running as smoothly as ever and to adjust things to serve the public better whenever I can find a way. I hope the small tweaks in how we’re doing things will help you find what you’re looking for at the library.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

What Would You Like to Do Today?

Litchfield Independent Review April 28, 2011
News from the Litchfield Library By Jan Pease

What would you like to do? Build a backyard fort? Recycle old cds into a craft project? Learn words in Chinese? Draw dinosaurs? Books that show how to do all of these projects have arrived at Litchfield library.

First, I should give you a little history. Way back when we were working on the concept of the new library building, our collection was evaluated by a professional. He stated that we had too much juvenile fiction (I mentally answered, too bad, because we have some awesome young readers who love fiction, and it isn’t going to change!) He also stated that we needed to weed and upgrade our nonfiction collection. We weeded and weeded. Pioneerland library system also had us evaluate our collection by age, and although we weeded and weeded again, the nonfiction collection still needed some work. I usually purchase a few nonfiction titles each month, to fill holes in the collection and add new books, but I decided to go for broke (perhaps literally). I’ve invested 25% of the entire 2011 children’s book budget in some incredible nonfiction books.

If you’re a girl and wonder about serving our country in one of the branches of the armed forces, look for titles in the Women in the Armed Forces series, like Women of the U.S. Marine Corps: Breaking Barriers, or Women of the U.S. Air Force: Aiming High. These books contain information about the history of women serving the branches of the armed services, as well as stories of women today following their dreams.

Green Projects for Resourceful Kids teaches us how to make crafts by recycling cds or using materials found in nature. The projects are easy, and colorful pictures illustrate each step. Written by various authors, these books even make me feel like trying to make something.

Build Your Own Fort, Igloo, and Other Hangouts has great ideas for making a hut, an umbrella tent, a colorful snow castle, and other backyard getaway places. Tammy Enz gives great instructions and step by step pictures that make it look easy. If we have another snowy winter, we could all make igloos in our yards, just for fun.

If you would like to improve your drawing skills, look for the You Can Draw series. Whether you want to draw vehicles, pets, zoo animals or monsters, these books will get you started on the basics. The books are written by various authors, but all give beginning artists an idea how to start with shapes and fill in the details.

My First Book of Mandarin Chinese Words, as well as other books in the series, teach simple words for everyday objects. Katy R. Kudela wrote the books, using as her source for the translations. Each book follows the same format, even using the same pictures. While no one will learn to speak another language with these books, they are a great introduction to the concept that people just like us in other places speak a different language.

Easy Magic Tricks is a series that does just that. Steve Charney learned to do magic tricks as a child, and he still performs more than 100 times a year. Many children are fascinated by magic and card tricks, and these books will enable them to master some simple tricks and amaze their friends and family.
Origami seems magical to me, and the instructions usually mystify completely. Our Easy Origami series, by Christopher L. Harbo, uses careful steps and colorful pictures to show even a young artist how to make lovely projects. These and other fantastic nonfiction books are waiting for you in the Children’s Department at Litchfield Public Library. See you there!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Minnesota's digital library

MnKnows - Dig Deeper @ Your Library.

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

People sometimes ask me if libraries are going to disappear as more and more things move to electronic, online formats.  If you come into the Litchfield Library almost any day of the week, you’ll be reassured that libraries are still community centers with plenty of bustling activity.  Neighbors of ours comment on how often our parking lot and street parking are full and what large numbers of people walk to the library any given day.
But certainly most of us do the majority of our information searching online now, instead of using books and physical copies of magazines and newspapers all the time like we used to.  Do you remember looking in periodical indexes in book form and then going to the old issues of magazines to find the information?  I don’t miss that.  But it can still be very difficult to find the information you’re looking for online, and you can find all sorts of inaccurate and unreliable information mixed into your search results.  Many things are just not available online for free; publishers are in business to make money, not to give away everything that they publish. 
One way that libraries have gotten involved in the online world as information providers is through digital libraries.  The state of Minnesota offers some wonderful digital library resources that you should try.
MnKnows,, is Minnesota’s digital library.  It offers access to information and publications, a Minnesota history collection, and live help from librarians.
The first thing you’ll notice on the MnKnows website is MnLink Gateway.  This is an online catalog for all of the libraries in the state that you can borrow from.  Please always check Pioneerland’s online catalog first, though, at, and order through that if possible.  But if you can’t get it from us, you can borrow items from libraries all over the state and have them sent to your local library
The next thing on the MnKnows site is the Electronic Library for Minnesota, or ELM.  You can find it directly at  It’s a collection of excellent resources that are available to you at no charge.  These are not things that would be available for free on the internet otherwise.  Minitex, a program of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the University of Minnesota Libraries, contracts with companies to provide these databases to Minnesota residents.  Just like a brick-and-mortar library would subscribe to the Wall Street Journal or buy a set of enclyclopedias so that you can use them, Minitex provides these reliable information sources to the public. 
ELM is useful to students, business and professional people, and anyone looking for reliable information published in journals, magazines, newspapers, scholarly e-books, and encyclopedias.  It includes several Britannica encyclopedias, the ERIC education database, the medical database Medline, and many magazine and journal databases that cover business, arts, science, and consumer information, among other subjects.  Even your elementary school student can use ELM to do homework, with a collection of resources geared to grades K-5.  Even though these resources are online, it isn’t like using Wikipedia or Yahoo Answers as a source for a paper.  These are reliable sources that are just like the print resources in a library, brought to you conveniently online for use anywhere, any time.
The next collection of resources in MnKnows is Minnesota Reflections.  This is a collection of images related to Minnesota history, including photos, documents, and maps.  If you enjoy looking through museum collections to learn about Minnesota history, you’ll enjoy browsing through this. 
If you need help from a librarian any time of day or night, even on a holiday, you can use the Ask MN service on the MnKnows website.   Instead of talking to the librarian in person or on the phone, you discuss your question by online chat, typing your conversation.  This service is provided cooperatively by librarians from all over.  I once got help from a librarian in Honolulu late at night when I was working on a college paper and the libraries here were closed. 
The last feature on the MnKnows library site is a research project calculator.  If you have a major paper to complete for a class, or even if you just want to set yourself up with a plan for writing the great American novel, you can create a schedule with deadlines for each portion of your project.
Digital libraries are the next frontier in providing library services to the public.  If you like to find information online and would like to find good, organized sources, check out MnKnows and put your state’s digital library to use.

You can teach an old librarian new tricks

by Jan Pease, Litchfield children's librarian

You can teach old dog new tricks, but did you know that an old librarian can learn new tricks, too?

A patron asked if we could occasionally put up a list of newer videos. I thought that was a great idea, and decided to give it a try. After all, how hard could it be? I remembered that our library catalog lets you sort out videos, so that’s where I began. Just to see if it would work, I simply typed dvd in the keyword search, and limited the search to the Litchfield collection. Incredibly, this simple search was all I needed to do. (I remembered this all as being more difficult). I had 1161 dvd titles. They happened to be sorted with the newest titles first.

I decided to try making a list with a book cart, which lets you save titles and request them all at once. I clicked on the little icon that looks like a shopping cart. I added the 26 newest titles to my cart; unfortunately, you have to click on each title to add it to the cart. I clicked on view saved titles, and then chose “view and export your saved records.” The result is the information in the citation and even by choosing “brief records,” there was more information given than I needed.

The next step was to get that information into something that I could use. This wasn’t difficult, but it took some time to pare the pages and pages of catalog information down to a usable list. I sent the list to the local disk, which put it into Notepad. I copied that into Word and started deleting. Again, this was not a difficult thing to do, but it took some time, so I’m very happy to share the list with you, and may be persuaded to generate another list - in another three months.

Then there was a second new thing I learned this week. (I know, this is getting to be a lot.) Our library webpage is in transition. We’re grateful to the Litchfield Chamber of Commerce for putting a link to the catalog on their webpage of information about the library. Just go to and click on Litchfield Public Library. Our hours, phone number, fax number and email address are all on the page. We’re sorry for the inconvenience caused by this transition.

The next problem to solve was where to post a library article so my fans (just joking) can read it online. I revived my old blog at blogspot, to have a spot to stash articles. Occasionally I update it with pithy comments, but I have learned once again that I’m really not a blogger.

That’s three things, more than enough for a week. See you at the library!

The List of movies with 2011 in the catalog citation:

127 hours
30 for 30.
The best that never was
Black swan
Downton Abbey
Elmo's World: Penguins and friends
Felicity : an American girl adventure
Inside job
Journey through the shadows
Complete guide to slowpitch softball [book and dvd]
The Fighter
The Social Network
The Ten Commandments
The Wiggles: Let's eat!
Tintinalli's emergency medicine [book and dvd]
Tron: legacy
VeggieTales: 'Twas the night before Easter
Waste land
Women without men
Yogi Bear

New critically-acclaimed books

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
The Litchfield Library has just gotten some new books that reviewers have ranked as some of the best of the past year.   They run the gamut from philosophy to historical fiction to cookbooks.
How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer, by Sarah Bakewell,  was the winner of the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography and received glowing reviews from the New York Times Book Review and many regional newspapers.   This biography of the philosopher and writer is approached as a list of twenty ways to live well, addressing issues that are still relevant today:  Don’t worry about death.  Pay attention.  Question everything.   In fact, the book’s writer describes Michel de Montaigne as a 16th-century blogger: a skeptical, curious, and playful thinker and essayist.
On the fiction side, The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald was another well-reviewed book of the year.  The character Henry House has been compared to Forrest Gump for the ways in which he goes through significant moments in mid-20th-century history.  He begins life as a “practice baby” in a college home economics program in the 1940s, an experience that teaches him how to charm women but avoid becoming attached.  The book follows Henry’s life through the changes of the 1950s and ‘60s.
Tasting Freedom: Octavius Catto and the Battle for Equality in Civil War America is a nonfiction book about a civil rights activist who lived long before the civil rights era of the twentieth century.  Catto was well-known in his time as a teacher, as an orator who worked with Frederick Douglass, and as a second-baseman for Philadelphia’s black baseball team.  This well-written book covers the largely-forgotten early efforts to gain basic rights for African-Americans. 
Another nonfiction book, Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages, by linguist Guy Deutscher, addresses the question of whether culture and language affect each other.   Can different languages lead a person to think in different ways?  This book has been described as entertaining and easy to read, even while being an intellectual look at language.
Rock musician Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids won the 2010 National Book Award for nonfiction.  Smith is known as a poetic songwriter, and she applied her writing talent to this description of her long-time relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and the chaotic, creative world of artists they lived among from the late 1960s through the ‘70s. 
The Twelfth Imam, by best-selling author Joel Rosenberg, is a Christian political thriller about an Iranian-American CIA operative working to infiltrate the Iranian government and avoid an apocalyptic war.  Reviewers call the novel gripping and fast-paced, with well-crafted characters.
The Killing Storm is Kathryn Casey’s third Sarah Armstrong thriller.  Texas Ranger Armstrong investigates ritual killings of cattle and the kidnapping of a 4-year-old boy, while a hurricane approaches Houston.  The main character faces complex personal issues throughout this suspenseful mystery.  Library Journal recommends it for fans of J.A. Jance.
Readers of epic fantasy may want to check out Mark Charan Newton’s debut novel Nights of Villjamur.  The first installment in the Legends of the Red Sun series incorporates murder mystery, making this a genre-crossing novel, described as having unusual characters and compelling writing.
On the more practical side, one of the best how-to books of the year was The Gourmet Cookie Book: The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009.  This cookbook is full of artful photographs and 68 cookie recipes of all types, reflecting the kinds that were popular in each decade.
You can find these and a wide variety of other fiction and non-fiction books on the new-books shelf at our library. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Oscar-nominated movies at the library

by Beth Cronk, head librarian
How many of the movies nominated for this year’s Oscars have you seen?  If you’d like to watch some more of the winners or nominees, you can find some of those movies at the library now, and more will be coming in soon.
Toy Story 3 was the winner in the categories of best animated feature film and best original song.  This very popular family movie is available at the Litchfield Library.  If you find that it’s checked out, which happens often with this title, you can reserve it online or with the help of our staff. 
The Johnny Depp/Tim Burton movie Alice in Wonderland was the winner for both art direction and costumes.  This imaginative film draws from both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.  We have this DVD available at our library.
The Social Network, a film about the creator of Facebook and his social and legal troubles on the way to becoming a billionaire, won Oscars in the categories of adapted screenplay, film editing, and original score.  It is available now, as well.
Inception is another multi-Oscar winner, for cinematography, sound editing, sound mixing, and visual effects.  This mind-bending movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, involves espionage inside people’s dreams.  It’s currently available at the Grove City Library, and I’ve ordered a copy for Litchfield.
We also have some of the movies that were nominated but did not get enough Academy votes to win.  We have The Kids Are All Right, Winter’s Bone, How to Train Your Dragon, and Gasland here at Litchfield.  The Grove City Library also has the movie Salt available now.  Movies available anywhere in the Pioneerland Library System, or even from other library systems in Minnesota, can be ordered for you to pick up at our library.
Many of the movies that won have just been released on DVD or are not available yet.  Several of them will be coming in for our collection in the next couple of months.  If you are interested in watching the movies we have on order, we can usually place holds on them for you even before they arrive.  Just ask our staff for assistance.
The big winner, for best picture, best director, best original screenplay, and best actor, was The King’s Speech.  This movie about King George VI and his speech therapist isn’t available on DVD yet, but I’m sure I’ll be ordering it for the library when it is. 
The best actress Oscar went to Natalie Portman for playing a disturbed ballerina in Black Swan.  The Litchfield Library will be getting this DVD.
The supporting actor and actress Oscars went to Christian Bale and Melissa Leo for The Fighter.   This film is about two brothers, an up-and-coming boxer and his manager, and their chaotic family dynamics.  This was just released on DVD and has been ordered for our library.
The Oscar for make-up went to The Wolfman, starring Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.  This is a remake of the 1941 Lon Chaney, Jr., werewolf movie of the same name. 
The Academy named Inside Job the best documentary of 2010.  Narrated by Matt Damon, this film covers the global financial crisis of 2008.
Both of these will be coming soon for our collection, as well. 
Whether you’re looking for movies to entertain or enlighten you, I hope you’ll find what you’re looking for at the library.