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, December 28, 2012

Closed for New Year's

The library will be closing at 5 p.m. on New Year's Eve.  It will be closed all day on New Year's Day.  Have a happy and safe new year!

The best of 2012 in books

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Do you enjoy seeing the lists of the best books of the year?  I have always loved any kind of best-of, awards, or honor list.  There are just so many books, movies, television shows, and songs out there; I enjoy guides to the best ones.  And of course some of the fun is in the debate about what was chosen and what was left off.

There are many publications and companies that produce lists of their best books of the year.  Publishers Weekly, a trade journal for people who work with books, has a top ten list for the year, plus lists of the best in many categories, including lifestyle, religion, and comics.  Library Journal does the same, but with even more categories beyond its top ten, such as the best sci-tech, young adult literature for adults, and memoir.  The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls its end-of-year book list the holiday gift guide.  That’s uniquely useful to us because they include a list of Minnesota-related books.  And the major booksellers, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, produce lists of the best books of the year that they publish on their websites.  You’ll find that we have many of this year’s most wonderful books at the Litchfield Library.  I will highlight for you a few that have been on more that one of these lists this year.

Minnesota author Louise Erdrich’s The Round House won this year’s National Book Award for fiction.  It was also featured by the Star Tribune and named by Amazon as one of the best of the year.  Sometimes compared with To Kill a Mockingbird, this novel tells a story of injustice and vengeance.  An Ojibwe woman is attacked on a reservation in North Dakota and is so traumatized that she will not share the details with anyone.  Her husband, a judge, is unable to bring about justice, so her teenage son sets out with his friends to find the answers. 

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity won the 2012 National Book Award for nonfiction.  This is author Katherine Boo’s first book, although she writes for the New Yorker and has won a Pulitzer Prize.  Boo’s husband is from India.  The book tells the stories of people living in a slum next to the Mumbai International Airport, near new, luxurious hotels.  Boo spent three years reporting on the lives of this group of people, whose poverty-stricken existence we can hardly imagine.  This book is on nearly every “best” list of 2012.

Bring Up the Bodies is Hilary Mantel’s sequel to Wolf Hall.  It won the 2012 Man Booker Prize, which is a British book award, and it has been on most American lists of the best books of the year.  This is the second book of a trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief minister, but it can be read alone.  It focuses on the arrest, trial, and execution of Anne Boleyn from Cromwell’s point of view.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a modern novel about soldiers at a Thanksgiving Day football game at Texas Stadium.  They have become stars because of news coverage of their firefight with Iraqi insurgents, so they’re on a media tour to boost support for the war.  Billy Lynn and his squad mates rub elbows with wealthy businessmen, Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders, a Hollywood producer, and Beyonce, while feeling painfully conflicted about the wartime experiences from which they have just returned.  Author Ben Fountain has been praised for this “inspired, blistering war novel” by the New York Times and others.

When you read one of those lists of the best books of the year and something intriguing catches your eye, take a look in our catalog or ask a librarian for help.  We’ll be happy to loan you a copy to read for yourself.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Get Ready, Get Set, Mark Your Calendars!

By Jan Pease
Fast away the old year passes.”    These words from “Deck the Halls,” dating back to 1866 or so, have been echoing in my mind.  Of course, that means that the tune is also echoing in my brain as an “ear worm” which is pleasant but irritating. I don’t know if it’s reassuring to realize that 147 years ago people were feeling that end-of-the year-is-coming-so-quickly rush.  I wonder what Thomas Oliphant would have thought about our modern rush.  He is believed to have written the words now sung to this old tune and I doubt if he knew how accurate “fast away the old year passes” seems today. 

It’s time to mark your calendars for the next season of library programming. We’re making some changes and I’m excited about what’s coming up in January.
After School Book Club will begin January 8th at 3:15 and will meet on the second Tuesday of each month.  This book club is for students in grades 3-5.    Mary Hansen leads this book club and they always have interesting books and activities. The book for January is “Eleven Birthdays,” by Wendy Mass.

Toddler Time begins January 9th at 10:15.  This weekly story time is planned for babies and toddlers through age two. Older children usually join us, but our emphasis is on very early literacy.

Beginners’ Book Club begins January 10th at 3:15.  This new book club is for children in grades 1 and 2, but 3rd graders who read below third grade level are very welcome.   The book for January is “Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes,” by Eric Litwin.  Beginners’ Book Club is planned for the second Thursday of each month.

Family Story Time also begins January 10th at 7:00 p.m.  This is a weekly bedtime story time.  Children often attend in their pj’s; the expectation is that they go home and go to bed.  They often laugh as we sing our good night song, but I try to send them home without winding them up.

Preschool Story Hour begins Friday, January 11th at 10:00.  This weekly story hour is planned for children ages 3 through 6.  Story Hour includes a simple art project.  We base a lot of our themes on the “We Care” curriculum, written by Bertie W. Kingore and Glenda M. Higbee and published by Scott Foresman.  This is an older curriculum, but I like it because it’s easy to adapt to our use at the library.
Young Adult Book Club begins at 3:15 on Monday, February 25th, postponed from January.  This book club is for students in Middle School through High School and is planned for the 4th Monday of each month.  The book for February  is “Ashen Winter,” the second book of the “Ashfall” trilogy by Mike Mullin.

Fun with 4-H @ the library begins January 24th.  Darcy Cole   has great ideas for students in kindergarten through grade five in 2013.  Bring friends, come and have fun each month while you learn.  This program is free and co-sponsored by Meeker County Extension and the library.
I always have a hard time getting used to a new year, and writing a new date, but I think that 2013 will be our best year ever at Litchfield Public Library. See you there!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday hours

We will be closed all day on Monday, December 24, and Tuesday, December 25, for Christmas.  We will be open normal hours the rest of the week.

We will be closing at 5 p.m. on Monday, December 31, for New Year's Eve.  We will be closed on Tuesday, January 1.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the staff of the Litchfield Public Library!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Conspiracy! A book event with Dean Urdahl

Minnesota representative and author Dean Urdahl presents

Thursday, December 20th

6 -7 p.m.

Litchfield Public Library meeting room

Rep. Urdahl will talk about all of his books, with particular emphasis on his latest, Conspiracy! Who Really Killed Lincoln? A Novel.  He will have books available for purchase and signing.

Pick up a Christmas present for the history buff on your list!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Shop online, help grow the library's e-book collection

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Have you finished your Christmas shopping?  I have not, but I'd better finish it soon.  Online shopping is the friend of people who are busy, so I expect to do much of my shopping that way.

Did you know that your Amazon and Barnes & Noble purchases online can benefit our library?  Through our e-book service’s WIN program, if you click through to Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s website from our site, we’ll get a credit toward the purchase of e-books. 

Here’s how you do it: go to our Overdrive e-book and audiobook site.   Look for the sidebar on the left that says “Before you shop… Help our library WIN!”  If you click on “Learn More”, you’ll come to a screen that says “Click here first, help our libraryWIN”.  Then you can choose to go to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books On Board, Shop Indie Bookstores, or Powell’s Books. 

When you click through that part of our website to those retail websites, a small portion of your purchase price gets turned into e-book credit for our library system.  We can use those funds to buy e-books that you can borrow from us.

If you get one of those shiny new devices for Christmas, an e-reader, tablet, or smartphone, you can borrow e-books and downloadable audios from us.  We have more all the time.  Pioneerland reduced administrative expenses this past year and has put a portion of those funds into creating a bigger e-book collection to meet popular demand. 

Another wonderful digital collection is coming in 2013.  We will be getting electronic magazines that you can view on a tablet, smartphone, or PC.  These will be the full magazines, laid out just as they are on print pages.  We will still get our print magazines in the library, but this will expand the titles we can offer you and allow you to view them anywhere that you can use a computer or your wireless device.  When you’re passing time in the airport or sitting at your fireside on a snowy night, you’ll be able to get the latest issue of magazines like Field and Stream, House Beautiful, and Consumer Reports

In fact, Newsweek is halting its print issues in the new year, so the electronic version will be the only one anyone will be able to read.  We will have it available in our electronic magazine service.

The digital magazines will only be available on devices that can use apps and/or get on the internet at large.  This means that straight e-readers that are not wifi-enabled won’t be able to get to these magazines.  They will work on iPads, iPhones, Blackberry Playbooks, Android phones and tablets, and Nooks and Kindles that can browse the web, as well as any PC with an internet connection.

We don’t have a date yet when this service will be available to us, but I thought you might like to know this is coming as you make choices about electronic devices for Christmas gifts.  Some people who don’t enjoy reading e-books find the thought of browsing magazines online more appealing.

I hope you will have a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year.  Merry Christmas, everyone! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Beth and I are Getting Confused!

By Jan Pease

Since Beth reviewed books she read for her class on children’s literature, I’m turning the tables to look at a few books that are found in the adult area of the library. 

A co-worker introduced me to the Kate Burkholder Series, which feature a   female chief of police in a small town in Ohio who grew up in the local Amish community.  The books in the series are “Sworn to Silence,” “Pray for Silence,” “Breaking Silence,” and “Gone Missing.” Publisher’s Weekly called the book overwrought, but I enjoyed the sense of time and place and liked Kate as a character.  P.L. Gaus is the writer who first hooked me on mysteries set in Amish communities, and his books are perhaps a bit more satisfying. Read “Clouds Without Rain” or “Blood of the Prodigal.”  But Linda Castillo writes a good story, and sometimes I just like a fun read. 

I started using a free, devotional e-book recently, “Walking with Frodo: A Devotional Journey through the Lord of the Rings,” by Sarah Arthur.   I have been a fan of The Lord of the Rings since about 1967, have all the movies, and am waiting expectantly for part one of “The Hobbit,” directed by Peter Jackson.  Combining thoughts and readings from the LOTR books and movies with the Bible may seem to be an odd combination, but it works for me.      

Middle School and High School book clubs are reading “A Long Walk to Water”, by Linda Sue Park.  This book is nominated for the 2013 Maud Hart Lovelace Award in Division II.  Based on the experiences of Salva Dut, founder of Water for South Sudan, “A Long Walk to Water” is a poignant look at a part of the world we prefer not to think about. I found it interesting to read about well drilling projects at and

I may or may not be Irish on my father’s side, so “The Graves are Are Walking: the Great Famine and the saga of the Irish People,” by John Kelly, intrigued me.  Our lives are so comfortable that it is difficult to imagine what drove so many people to try to make a new life in America. I’m still working my way through “The Graves are Walking.” It’s really difficult to read about the famine and the unbelievable response of the British government.    Mr. Kelly is also well known for his book about the ravages of plague, “The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time.” When I’m finished with the Irish devastation, I may tackle the Black Death. Cheerful thought. “The Great Mortality” is available at the Litchfield library, and “The Graves are Walking” is available through interlibrary loan.

Finally, of all my guilty pleasures, the Dresden books by Jim Butcher are at the top of the list.  In “Cold Days,” Harry Dresden, urban wizard, continues his fight against the forces of darkness, having survived everything from zombie dinosaurs to a near-death experience. If you’ve read “Ghost Story,” you know that although Harry died, he was only absent.  His adventures away from his corporeal body are explained, but you just have to read the entire series, which hasn’t run out of steam even though this is the 14th Dresden novel. 

Remember that the December book sale is this Saturday, December 15, starting at 10.  See you at the library!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Too busy to read? Try children's books.

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Do you love to read but feel like you don’t have enough time to finish a novel?  That’s usually how I am.  This fall I discovered a great way to read beautiful writing that gives you an engrossing experience without the time commitment: read quality children’s books.  This fall I’ve been taking a class on children’s materials for libraries, which has required me to read stacks of children’s books.  It has introduced me to wonderful books I would never have chosen on my own.  I’ll share the highlights with you.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead won a Newbery in 2010.  It reads like excellent realistic fiction, the main character a 12-year-old girl living in New York City with her single mother in the ‘70s.  She’s a fan of A Wrinkle in Time and makes many references to it, a clue that this book is actually science fiction, although it sneaks up on you.  I read it immediately after reading A Wrinkle in Time, which I recommend doing.

Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi is a fantastic piece of historical fiction set in Korea during and immediately after World War II.  I was pitifully unaware of the history of Korea during that time, and this story of a young girl’s experience with Japanese and then Soviet occupation was enlightening to me – and impossible to put down.

A Year Down Yonder, another Newbery winner, is a lighthearted novel about a teenage girl who has to move from Chicago to her grandmother’s house in a little town when her father loses his job during the Depression.  Grandma Dowdel is a wacky character, the Christmas pageant rivals that in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and the author, Richard Peck, hits the right balance of sweetness and quirkiness.

Rules by Cynthia Lord is a masterfully written story of Catherine, a girl who struggles with having an autistic brother and with navigating new friendships with a paraplegic boy and with the new, popular girl next door.  Catherine’s social struggles are easy to relate to, and there are powerful but not preachy insights about relationships. 

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is told from the perspective of a brilliant girl with cerebral palsy who cannot speak.  The language is poetic, and her story is infuriating, heartbreaking, and inspiring. This is some fantastic writing.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key is told from another unique perspective, that of a boy with apparent ADHD.  Author Jack Gantos manages to make the narrative feel like it’s inside a mind that’s racing at a hundred miles an hour, shifting suddenly from one thought to another in ways that seem logical to the boy making impulsive decisions – but the reader knows that he’s headed for trouble.  Gantos does this while creating empathy in the reader for this child who wants to do the right thing but is unable to control himself.

I encourage you to explore children’s books even if you aren’t choosing them for children.  This is not second-class literature just because it is written for kids. Try some from the Newbery winners list, or find something on a historical period you enjoy.  Jan chooses truly wonderful books for our juvenile collection, and she, Mary, or I would be glad to direct you to quality children’s books that appeal to people of all ages.  

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Quartet and a Duet Worth Reading

By Jan Pease

 In 1994, an unusual little book, “The Giver,” won the Newbery Medal, for most distinguished children’s book.  I remember talking to other librarians about the book, as I read it around the time I attended some meeting.  I don’t want to spoil the book for you if you haven’t read it, but the ending was left intentionally ambiguous.  It seemed to depend on the pessimism or optimism of the reader. 

  Somehow I missed “Gathering Blue” and “Messenger,” vaguely knowing that they were part of the trilogy, but I didn’t read them.  In October, Lois Lowry’s fourth book in the series, “Son,” was published, turning the trilogy into a quartet.  I read all four books over a recent weekend because Mary Hansen had the Middle School Book Club read “Messenger” and “Son.”    She does a fantastic job with the book club, but I sometimes like to read along with them.

 Reading the quartet simply blew my socks off.  I found several critical, even harsh reviews of Ms. Lowry and “The Giver” online. Most of the comments, however, praise the book, especially when taken in context with the rest of the series.  It foreshadowed the current trend of books about dystopic societies and tyrannical governments.  “The Giver” was published three years before the “Harry Potter” books, and nearly 15 years before “The Hunger Games.”   Now “Son” concludes the quartet, answering many questions, but raising others.   Read Lois Lowry’s biography on her website,, for insight into her life and her books.

“A Soldier’s Secret” by Marissa Moss is a new book about Sarah Edmonds.  It is historically accurate, with reproductions of photographs from the time, a time line, a bibliography, and brief biographies of the Union Army officers who knew Sarah as Frank Thompson.  Ms. Moss admits that the last scene of the book is what she thinks should have happened instead of the actual events; after all, this is a novel, not a biography. 

More than 400 women served in the Civil War, but most of them followed husbands, brothers, or boyfriends who helped them live in the camps.  The real Sarah Emma Edmonds is the only woman known to have lived as both a man and a woman.   As a teenager, Sarah Edmonds dressed as a boy, with short curly hair, calling herself Frank Thompson.  She passed as a young man for three years and then enlisted in the Union Army.  Sarah Edmonds wrote a bestselling book, “Unsexed, or the Female Soldier,” in 1864.  It was later reprinted as “Nurse and Spy in the Union Army: comprising the adventures and experiences of a woman in hospitals, camps, and battlefields.”   Her account is available for Kindle, Nook, and free at Project Gutenberg .  Sarah Edmonds died at the age of 56, and is the only woman of her time allowed to be buried in the Civil War section of a cemetery in Houston.  She is also the only woman who was mustered into the Grand Army of the Republic.  If you enjoy “A Soldier’s Secret,” look for Sarah’s own version of her adventures as a Union Army soldier, available through mnlink.

 Juvenile books can be exciting, thought-provoking, and heart-wrenching.  I enjoyed  reading “A Soldier’s Secret” and “The Giver Quartet” and would recommend them to anyone.    See you at the library!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lively groups at the library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Our Friends of the Litchfield Library group is alive and reinvigorated.  I held an informational session about the Friends group on Tuesday, November 13th.  Six people attended and joined, and a seventh joined afterward.  They made plans to start working on book sale prep in weeks to come.

If you missed the meeting, or you just want to join without having to go to a meeting, ask one of the library staff for a Friends of the Library brochure.  You can fill out the application on the brochure and drop it off with your $5 dues (or $1 if you’re under 18).  We actually did gain two child members.  One was very excited to come to “library club”.  The other really wanted the membership card, and she loves the library. 

The next meeting of the Friends, an official member meeting, will be on the third Tuesday in January at 7 p.m.  According to the current bylaws, meetings are to be held only three times per year: January, May, and September.  It’s not a big commitment.  I hope more of you will join us.  It looks like a great group of people. 

Our new adult book club is going swimmingly.  We’ve had ten to twelve people per meeting this fall, with thoughtful, lively discussions.  I’m trying a variety of types of books, both to make it interesting and to find out what members of the group like and dislike reading.  We read a fantasy novel first, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.  Many in the group loved it, and a few hated it, but it certainly gave us a lot to talk about.  I loved the lush descriptions of the magical circus, but I found that the complicated timeline made it too difficult to listen to as an audiobook, which is my usual method for finding time to read for book club; I switched to reading the print. 

Our next title was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  This classic collection of mystery stories is familiar to everyone in some general way, or at least the characters are, but most of us in the group had not actually read the original books.  I’ve been enjoying the new BBC modern translation Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, which is one of the flurry of recent Sherlock Holmes variations on screen.  The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of short stories, which makes it very easy to read one or two of the intriguing cases at a sitting.  Our book club found it remarkable that Doyle could create characters that are still fascinating to readers and viewers 125 years later.

For our November meeting we read The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  This was a popular choice.  The dog Enzo narrates the story of his master, race car driver Denny, who goes through some terrible times with his family.  Enzo has a soul that’s ready to be human, and he looks forward to being reincarnated as a man like he learned about in a TV documentary on Mongolia.  He has a very philosophical outlook, applying lessons learned from auto racing to life: “The car goes where the eyes go.” 

Next month’s book is Bossypants by Tina Fey.  If you want to read a funny memoir or, even better, listen to it on audio, and then come to book club to talk about it, stop in to pick up a copy.  It was on every best-of-the-year list last year, which means I can get us enough copies to work with this year.  Our next meeting is Tuesday, December 11, at noon.

If you’ve been thinking about joining the Litchfield Friends or the new lunchtime book club, but you’ve wondered, “Is anyone going?” the answer is yes.  There are some neat new groups forming here that are worth coming to.  Hope to see you at the next meeting!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Closed for Veterans Day

Pioneerland libraries, including Litchfield, are closed today in observance of Veterans Day.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Books, Glorious Books!

By Jan Pease

New books!

It’s too late for Halloween, but a most disturbing book sits on my desk.  A protruding eyeball seems to stare directly at me from the clear cover of one of the more interesting anatomy books we’ve added to the children’s collection.  “Outside-In Human Body” answers the question, “What’s under the skin you’re in?” Author Clive Gifford and illustrator Mark Ruffle have produced a colorful, information-packed book that looks at the human body from the hair and skin to the muscles, bones, and internal organs. 

 Andrea Davis Pinkney is an author and Coretta Scott King Award-winner who strives to create books geared toward children that display pride in the African-American culture and its achievements.”  This description of Ms. Pinkney is from her author page. Ms. Pinkney is married to illustrator Brian Pinkney, who often illustrates her books. Their new collaboration, “Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America” is a beautiful book that gives
information with a poetic and personal touch.  The 10th person profiled in Ms. Pinkney’s book is President Barack Obama.   Some of the heroes chosen by Ms. Pinkney are well known, such as Frederick Douglass and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Others are not so well known, such as Benjamin Banneker, an astronomer in Colonial times.  This one is definitely worth reading.

 There are many ways to tell the Christmas story.  We have versions of the Nativity told from the point of view of animals, shepherds, and magi, to name a few.   Tomie de Paola has written and illustrated “The Birds of Bethlehem,” which tells the story from a “birds’- eye view.” Do birds really talk?   Tomie de Paola will make you believe that they might.  He has been designated a living treasure by the state of New Hampshire, where he makes his home. I agree with the state of NH, and hope that Mr. dePaola, who just turned 78, will continue to write and illustrate children’s books for years to come.  

 Doreen Rappaport is a recipient of the Washington Post-Children’s Book Guild lifetime achievement award for the writing of nonfiction.  Her newest book, “Beyond Courage, the Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust,” took more than six years to write.  She says of her book, “How Jews organized themselves in order to survive and defy their enemy is an important but still neglected piece of history.  I present a sampling of actions, efforts, and heroism with the hope that I can play a role in helping to correct the damaging and persistent belief that Jews ‘went like sheep to the slaughter.’”

Ms. Rappaport looks at the horrors of the Holocaust without flinching.  Knowing the truth of each story and that some of the individuals survived to build new lives after the war gives a sense of hope to this important book.  If it doesn’t win a book award, I think I’ll start a “Jan’s medal for extreme excellence in children’s literature” and nominate this book to be the first recipient.  

These wonderful books are waiting for you at Litchfield Library – I hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Will you be our Friend?

Informational meeting about the Friends of the Litchfield Public Library

Tuesday, November 13
7 p.m.
Library meeting room
Meet with head librarian Beth Cronk and find out more about our library’s Friends group.
Photo taken in Phoenix, AZ, by Ellen Forsyth.  Available under Creative Commons license.

Free storytelling workshops offered at Litchfield Public Library

Free Storytelling Workshops
Litchfield Public Library

Learn how to find, learn, remember, and retell folktales and family stories at these two free 3-hour workshops geared for adults and teens. CEU Credits available for educators. Registration is required.

How To Tell A Story: Storytelling 101
Saturday, November 10, 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.,
Litchfield Public Library,
216 N Marshall Ave, Litchfield MN 55355
To register, call (320)693-2483

How To Find, Craft, And Tell Amazing Stories: Storytelling 201
Saturday, November 10, 2:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.,
Litchfield Public Library,
216 N Marshall Ave., Litchfield MN 55355
To register, call (320)693-2483


Workshop presenter Kevin Strauss, M.S. Ed. is a professional storyteller, and the award-winning author of six books and two storytelling CDs. You can learn about him at Workshop Questions? Call Kevin at 507-993-3411 or email him at For more storytelling resources like free videos, visit www.StoryLibrary.Org.  

This activity is made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the State’s arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

Friday, November 2, 2012

How to Read Minnesotan

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Come to the library to find some new books with Minnesota ties.

The Minnesota Book of Skills
The Minnesota Book of Skills: Your Guide to Smoking Whitefish, Sauna Etiquette, Tick Extraction, and More is a fun, brand-new book from the Minnesota Historical Society Press.  Author Chris Niskanen has put together a collection of short overviews of many topics, such as building your own backyard ice rink, portaging in the BWCA, finding agates, and backing up a trailer.  I was curious to read the sauna etiquette section, since my grandma had a wood-burning sauna I used often as a child.  I learned from the book that there’s a Finnish word for the combined smell of the steam, wood, and woodsmoke of a sauna: löyly.  Now I know that it’s löyly that makes me powerfully nostalgic for Saturday sauna nights.  This is a book I plan to read further and probably give for Christmas gifts, because I think it’s both useful and entertaining.

We Sinners
Another book I look forward to reading doesn’t take place in Minnesota, but it could have been set here because the same religious and ethnic group lives in our area.  We Sinners by Hanna Pylväinen is a novel about a Finnish Laestadian Lutheran family in Michigan.    Each chapter is told by a different person in the eleven-member Rovaniemi family.  Some of the children stay in the church, and others leave.  Some readers have told me that they loved it and learned so much more about Finnish Lutherans, while others have said they’ve been disappointed that it didn’t go deeper.  The final chapter, which takes place at the founding of the Laestadian church, tends to confuse most readers; it’s intended as historical perspective.    Amazon named this one of its best books of the month in August, and it has gotten good reviews elsewhere for Pylväinen's spare, nuanced writing.

Cooking With Pavarotti
A Litchfield writer praised for her nuanced writing, Nancy Paddock has a new book of poetry out this year that our library has added to the collection this fall.  Cooking with Pavarotti includes poems on the culinary arts and many other subjects.  This book is published by Red Dragonfly Press.  We do not yet have Joe Paddock’s new book, but I will find a copy for our library.

Mni Sota Makoce
Another new book from the Minnesota Historical Society Press is Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota.  According to the book, “The Dakota phrase Mni Sota Makoce, Land Where the Waters Reflect the Clouds, gives the state of Minnesota its name.” The book tells the story of the Dakota people in Minnesota: creation stories , archaeological history, interactions and treaties with European Americans, and modern efforts to reclaim traditional cultural places.

One Drop in a Sea of Blue
Yet another book from the MHS Press, One Drop in a Sea of Blue: The Liberators of the Ninth Minnesota, tells a little-known story of the Civil War.  In 1863, 38 men from the Ninth Minnesota Regiment held a train at gunpoint to free a fugitive slave and his family who had been captured and were being shipped out of state to be sold.  Because it happened in Missouri where the soldiers were not to interfere with Union loyalists who were slaveholders, the soldiers were charged with treason and imprisoned without trial for two months.  Their case was debated in the U.S. Senate.  The book follows these 38 after their release, as they rejoined their regiment to be defeated at Brice Crossroads.  Some were imprisoned at Andersonville stockade.  The Ninth suffered unusually high mortality rates at Andersonville, but those who continued to fight helped to win the western theater of the war.    Fourteen of the 38 liberators survived the war and left behind accounts of their wartime experiences.  Author John B. Lundstrom tells a carefully researched story that is being described as a microcosm of the entire Civil War experience.

A library should have books that cover local interests.  I hope you’ll find something that interests you among these new additions.