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.

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 BĂȘte," 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!