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, March 22, 2013

Spring is here... I think

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

It certainly doesn’t feel like it, but spring is here according to the calendar, and Easter is upon us.  If you’d like to read about spring before you can feel it, you can come to the library to get a fresh, new book to tide you over until the warm weather arrives.

An early sign of spring is maple syruping, which I hear is late to start this year.  The book Modern Maple by Teresa Marrone tells you how to make maple syrup in your backyard.  It covers the equipment you’ll need to get, when and how to tap the trees, and how to turn sap into syrup.  It even includes recipes made with maple syrup, from breakfast to dessert.

Are you waiting anxiously for the birds to come back?  The Bluebird Effect: Uncommon Bonds with Common Birds by Julie Zickefoose tells of the author and illustrator’s experiences rescuing birds of 25 different species.  The author tells of feeding baby hummingbirds every twenty minutes, playing bird songs to abandoned baby Carolina wrens, and caring for injured birds until they were healed.  The detailed nature writing is melded with the author’s personal experiences and illustrated with her sketches and watercolor paintings.  Library Journal named this book one of its top five science books of 2012.

Another of Library Journal’s top science books, America’s Other Audubon by Joy M. Kiser, celebrates the artwork of a young woman in the late 1800s. Genevieve Jones was an amateur naturalist and artist in Ohio.  She saw Audubon’s paintings at the 1876 World’s Fair and was inspired to document nests and eggs, because Audubon had not.  She started on a book, Illustrations of the Nests and Birds of Ohio, although her parents were concerned about the expense and size of the project.  When she became depressed over a broken engagement, her family began to support her project to help her cope.  Her father paid for the publishing, her brother Howard collected the nests, and Genevieve and her friend Eliza Schulze learned lithography and created the illustrations.  The book was issued in 23 parts and was sold by subscription.  When she released part one, ornithologists and book reviewers praised it as being on par with Audubon’s work, and Teddy Roosevelt and Rutherford B. Hayes became subscribers. 

Genevieve died suddenly of typhoid after having completed only five illustrations.  Her family continued working on the book for seven years until it was complete, as a way to honor her memory.  Both her mother and her brother nearly died from typhoid two years after Genevieve, and her mother lost her eyesight from effects of the disease along with eye strain from hours of working on the illustrations.  Her physician father spent all of his retirement savings to publish the book.  Fewer than 100 copies were ever produced, despite the fact that it won a medal at the Chicago World’s Fair. The new book by Kiser reproduces the color artwork of the Jones’ original volume.  It is beautiful.

Are you looking forward to the first things that grow?  The cookbook Eat More Vegetables: Make the Most of Your Seasonal Produce includes a section on spring:  April and May.  The book was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, so it’s even realistic for those of us who live in the north.  The author, Tricia Cornell, structures the book around things we can find at Minnesota farmers’ markets, beginning with things like rhubarb, asparagus, and dandelion greens.

Spring will come eventually.  In the meantime, read some good books that help you look forward to growing plants, nesting birds, and anything else you enjoy about the return of warm weather.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Closing at 6:00 tonight

The Litchfield Library will be closing tonight at 6 p.m. due to the weather.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Diane Stanley: A Closer Look

By Jan Pease

Part of my job is to read book reviews written by library professionals.  Occasionally I receive a book review from a friend of mine, Raechel, who is now 17.  I have a few other young friends who will write a book review, mostly in the summer.  The reviews and the reviewers are all delightful.

Raechel reviewed “Bella at Midnight,” by Diane Stanley.  Here are Raechel’s words:
“This is one of my (many) favorite books, though it is simple.  “Bella at Midnight” is a twist between the fairytale Cinderella, and the life account of Joan of Arc, in a very clever and well-written way.  It is fiction, written in first-person, told “by” many of the different characters in the book.  Each character is well built up by the author, making the book all the easier to get into.  I love this book, and have read it numerous times, enjoying it each reading!” 

Diane Stanley both writes and illustrates children’s books.  She is famous for her picture book biographies, but she also tells her own versions of classic fairy tales.  It isn’t surprising that she includes a Joan of Arc theme because one of her beautifully illustrated biographies is that of Joan of Arc, published in 2002.  Litchfield library owns 10 books by Diane Stanley, and many more are available through Pioneerland Library System.  Ms. Stanley has won many awards, including the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction from the National Council for Teachers of English, and she is the recipient of the Washington Post/Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction for the body of her work.  Her books routinely receive starred reviews in professional journals, and are nominated for, and receive, awards in many of the U.S. state book awards, from Maine to California.
Ms. Stanley is an example of a wonderful, hard-working artist and author who hasn’t won the “big” awards, but is recognized for the excellence of her work.   I can’t understand why she hasn’t won the Newbery for one of her novels, or the Caldecott for illustrations in a picture book. 

Visit her website,   Her website shows what an artistic author can do with animation and information.  Her story is interesting.  She began her professional life as a medical illustrator, illustrated many children’s books, and now writes novels for children and young adults. She says of writing, “It’s as if I entered the field of children’s books through the art door but ended up in the writing room.  I’m very comfortable there.”  

I’m glad that Raechel re-introduced me to Diane Stanley’s works.  My goal now is to make her a household name.  See you at the library!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Will you share your email address with us?

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Our overdue notices are going green.  Pioneerland Library System will stop sending out paper overdue notices in May, changing to all email for notices about overdues.  This will save reams of paper and thousands of dollars a year.  Trees and taxpayer dollars: worthy causes, don’t you think?

The great news is that this will allow us to send email reminders before your items are due.  You’ll be able to get a reminder to return things before you owe any fines.  Patrons have been asking for this service.

If you have an email address on file with us, you will still get an email notice when you owe money on an item, as you do now.  You’ll also get notified by email of any items you’ve requested that have come in for you.

If you don’t have an email address in your library record, you will only get a printed overdue notice mailed to you when your item is long overdue and you’re being billed for replacing it: after eight days on a movie and after thirty days on a book.  We will still call you when your requested items arrive at the library.

Even if you get a huge bill for the cost of replacing a book or other item, your fines will be greatly reduced once you bring it back.  For a book, you may get a bill for as much as $40 to replace it, but once you bring it back you’ll only owe $3 for it in late fees.  For a long-overdue movie, your bill will drop to $8, much better than the $38 your bill will say while you still have it checked out.  If you get a scary bill, the best thing to do is just return the item to reduce your fine.  If for some reason it’s gone, talk to us about it.  We won’t yell at you, I promise.  We just want to work out a way to get that item back in our library for other people to check out.

If you’re thinking, “I have an email address but I don’t like to give it out because then I get spam,” let me reassure you that we will never share your email address.  By law, we cannot.  So you will never get business emails because we sold your email address, because we absolutely will never do that.  We protect your privacy.

We don’t send marketing emails about the library, either.  The only emails you’ll get from us are reminders that your items will be due soon (beginning in May), overdue notices, and notices that your requested items have arrived.  On rare occasions, we send an individual email about a missing disc in a CD set or some other problem, but that’s mostly if we can’t reach you by phone. 

I invite you to add your email address to your account the next time you check things out.  We won’t share it with anyone or bury you in emails.  Starting in May, we’ll be able to remind you to bring your books back before they cost you anything.  And you’ll be able to keep getting overdue notices when those due dates slip by, before a bill arrives in your mailbox. 

And if you do get a late fee?  As Jan says, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad person.  It just means you’re a busy person.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

One Lump or Two?

 By Jan Pease

Where did proper young ladies go to be “finished” during the time of Queen Victoria?   Why, to finishing school, of course.  But in Gail Carriger’s   steam punk world of fashionable vampires and militaristic were- wolves, young ladies attend Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality .  The first book in the “Finishing School” series is “Etiquette and Espionage,” which follows Sophronia, a young woman who is a severe trial to her mother, as she goes to this most unusual school for young ladies.   Here, Sophronia learns useful skills that will come in handy in her adult life, whether she marries a fashionable gentleman or works as an “intelligencer” for the queen.   As one of the teachers says“It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It's quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School.”

Although I have enjoyed Gail Carriger’s  books immensely, I’m happy to see some new books that are historical   fiction, without the paranormal emphasis that has been so prevalent the last few years.  “Jepp, who Defied the Stars,” written by Katherine Marsh, is set in the 1500s.  Ms. Marsh based her character on a real person, Jepp, a dwarf who served Tycho Brahe, an astronomer and alchemist in Denmark.  Jepp wonders if fate is written in the stars from the moment we are born, or if it is a bendable thing that we can shape with our own hands.   

“Navigating Early,” by Clare Vanderpool, is set in the years just after World War II.   This is the story of Jack Baker, whose father moves him from Kansas to a boarding school in Maine.  He has an unusual friendship with Early Auden, who now would probably be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  The boys go on a quest to search the Appalachian Trail for the great black bear rumored to be in nearby mountains.  They share adventures that include “pirates, a volcano, a great white whale, a hundred-year old woman, a lost hero, a hidden cave, a great Appalachian bear, and a timber rattlesnake – in Maine!” (“Navigating Early” page 294).

  “Who Done It,” by Jon Scieszka,  is a really, really unusual book.  The premise is that the nastiest editor in the world has been murdered, and the 80 suspects are authors of children’s and YA fiction, including Lemony Snicket, John Green, Mo Willems, Todd Strasser, and 76 other well-known names.  The reader is charged with examining each alibi to solve the crime.  Each of the writers spins a story, but Mr. Scieszka says the problem is that all of them are liars.  All of the proceeds of this book benefit 826NYC, a literacy and creative program for kids. 

Finally, Ally Carter has produced the third novel in the “Heist Society” series.    “Perfect Scoundrels” continues the story of Katarina Bishop, nicknamed Kat, who is part of a family of loveable criminal masterminds.  My only quibble with the series is that Kat seems much older; 20 something at least.  She’s sophisticated and smooth.  But just because I was still awkward at 16, doesn’t mean that a 16 year old couldn’t be an international jewel thief.   All of these great books, and more, are waiting for you at Litchfield Public Library.