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, July 26, 2013

A 19th century Manannah man -- or woman?

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Someone told me recently that there is a book about a woman who lived as a man in Meeker County in the mid-1800s.  I had never heard about this part of our local history, and I was glad to find I’d already gotten the novel for our library: The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell, by William Klaber.  It just came out in June. 

Lucy, who took the name Joseph, lived near Mannanah in 1857 and 1858.  According to The First Hundred Years: A History of Meeker County, by Patrick Casey:

“In 1857 she spent much of her time in and around Manannah, doing chores, chopping wood, etc., dressed in male attire.  Sometime in 1858 it was discovered that she was a woman and the fact that she dressed as a man seems to have shocked the morals of certain members of the community and she hailed before Judge Robson’s court.”

A.C. Smith, the author of the 1877 book History of Meeker County, was one of her defense attorneys.   She was charged with “falsely impersonating a man to the great scandal of the community and against the peace and dignity of the State of Minnesota.”  No one produced evidence of Lobdell doing anything more than dressing as a man.  The court found her not guilty because they said the right of women to “wear the pants” had been established since the time of the Roman emperor Justinian. 

The story of Lobdell’s life is much longer and more complicated than the brief stay in our area.  If you’re curious about her beginnings as a musician and hunter in New York, her desertion by her husband, or her long stretches living as a man and marriage to a woman, check out the novel.  It even has footnotes about all of Lobdell’s history that can be found, including her own writings.

Sometimes it’s fun to be able to picture the setting where a story takes place.  Other recent books set in Minnesota, present or past, that we have at the library include:

·         Criminal Enterprise by Owen Laukkanen, set in St. Paul;
·         The Icecutter’s Daughter and The Quarryman’s Bride, the first two books in The Land of Shining Water series by Tracie Peterson, set in Waseca, St. Cloud, and Minneapolis;
·         Red Velvet Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke, set in fictional Lake Eden;
·         Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg, set in St. Paul;
·         Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger, set in fictional New Bremen in the Minnesota River Valley;
·         Vacationland by Sarah Stonich, set at a lake resort in northern Minnesota; and
·         Silken Prey by John Sandford, set in Minneapolis.

When you’re looking for an idea for a good book to read, stop in to browse our shelf of new adult books or ask someone on the library staff for help.  We strive to offer a wide variety of books to appeal to all different kinds of readers.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Don't Let Summer Slide Away

by Tiana Schweim, Litchfield Library

Watercade marks the mid-point of summer for many of us in Litchfield.  With the final flash of fireworks, the distant cadence of the Mean-Green-Marching-Machine, and the Medallion tucked away for another long year, teens might just spiral into a self-proclaimed state of boredom until Labor Day!  My advice is to take a deep breath and exhale as you ponder opportunities at your local public library.

Our summer reading programs are in full-swing!  We have 46 students in grades 6-12 who have officially signed up for Groundbreaking Reads for Teens and are participating by keeping track of their titles and submitting book reviews for weekly drawings.

 New additions to our collection are Hunger and Fear which complete our collection of Michael Grant’s Gone series.  Our monthly teen book club has chosen to read the first book Gone for next month.  I encourage tweens & teens to checkout or download the book and join us for our next book club meeting on Monday, August 19th at 3:00 here at the library—all students entering grades 6-12 are invited to show up!  We’d love you to join our discussion by telling us what you’ve been reading this summer.

Also new to our collection:

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer.  Younger fans of television cooking shows will delight in this quick-paced story laced with current trends including domestic abuse, inter-racial relationships, and a main character with a learning disability.  Bauer says the book is infused with humor.  About the process she says, “My best times as a writer are when I’m working on a book and laughing while I’m writing.”

Speaking of becoming famous, our teen book club participants have also recently had the pleasure of critiquing an original manuscript by Chantal Boon.  Boon is a local author from Dassel, MN, and is in the process of securing a publisher for her story The Sky is Watching.  It was interesting for the kids to meet and talk with Chantal about her background and the ideas for her book.  We certainly have some very talented writers in our book club groups and it’s a cool thought to ponder some of them becoming future authors as well.  We plan to keep in touch with Chantal and cheer her on through the process.

One big change to the programming calendar is the switch from an All-Night Lock-In to a 4-hour event.  All students who are entering grades 6-12 are invited to stop by the library and sign up for our July 31st event which will begin at 8:00 PM when the library normally closes its doors and conclude at midnight.  We will provide a pizza party for everyone who has registered.  The night will also offer the chance to play various group games such as Ghost in the Graveyard, and participate in the Great Library Scavenger Hunt.  Best of all, prizes will be awarded!  What a great opportunity to hang out with your friends!  We need to thank SAMMIE (Southwest Area Multicounty Multitype Interlibrary Exchange) who has awarded us a grant to partially fund this event.

Don’t forget Gaming Night, every Monday from 6-8 PM, and Teen Tea with Tiana at Cricket Meadow on Tuesday, August 13th at 10:00 AM.

So, you see, even though the Annual Watercade Book Sale has come and gone for another year, there’s no need to hang your head in sorrow.  Visit the Public Library today!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Libraries Rock!

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Are you going to see Shrek?  Once again this year, we have someone from the library staff who is in the cast of the Litchfield Community Theatre musical.  This time it’s Tiana.  Last month Jan was in Steel Magnolias, last spring Mary directed Honk! Jr., and last summer Elle was in Fiddler on the Roof.  I guess we’re a theatrical bunch at the library.

We have the original Broadway cast recording for Shrek the Musical available at our library.  It was recorded in 2009 in New York, so this is a very new show. 

Have you taken a look at our other music CDs lately?  It’s still a small collection, but it’s growing.  Most of our music CDs are next to the adult audiobooks, near our movies.

One of our newest CDs is To Be Loved, by Michael BublĂ©.  It just came out in April.  It includes the single “It’s a Beautiful Day” that you might have heard on the radio.  As usual, this old-school crooner covers many classics, including songs made famous by Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.  Reese Witherspoon and Bryan Adams also make appearances on the album.

The Okee Dokee Brothers gave a concert in Litchfield earlier this year as a fundraiser for the new playground.  We have their Grammy-winning CD available to check out.  Look on the children’s side of the library to find this one.  Can You Canoe? won the 2013 Grammy for best children’s album.  The Minnesota singers (friends, not really brothers) traveled by canoe from Minneapolis to St. Louis for a month and wrote these songs about their adventure.  Along with the folk CD that appeals to all ages, there’s a DVD of them performing their songs and traveling down the river.  I’ve seen them perform live in Duluth, and I was happy to find that they were not at all the annoying kind of children’s musicians you sometimes find.  They were funny and hip and really, really musically talented.  But then they did win a Grammy, so I guess that should be obvious.

We also have a few of Jim Gill’s CDs available now for checkout on the children’s side of the library.  Families who come to storytimes here are familiar with many of his songs.  Jim performed a concert in Litchfield this year, as well, to the tremendous enjoyment of the crowd of families who went to it.  His newest CD, Jim Gill Presents Music Play for Folks of All Stripes, was named a 2012 Notable Children’s Recording by the American Library Association.  That’s the equivalent of a Caldecott or Newbery honor book, since the ALA gives those awards.  Jim incorporates all kinds of great learning activities for young children in his songs, while having plenty of wacky fun at the same time.

Besides the “Folks of All Stripes” album, we also have Jim Gill Sings Do Re Mi on His Toe Leg Knee, Jim Gill Sings Moving Rhymes for Modern Times, and Jim Gill’s Irrational Anthem.

Back over on the adult side of the library, we have Uncaged by the Zac Brown Band.  It won the 2013 Grammy for best country album.  The band is described as country/folk/bluegrass, and the album as a laid-back mixture of even more musical styles, including reggae and R&B.

I hope you’ll find that our music collection has some up-to-date offerings that you’ll enjoy.  Come in to discover something new!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Five of a Kind: Great New Picture Books (yes, I know there are seven)

By Jan Pease

How do you organize your week?  I admire people who stick to a pattern, such as Monday, laundry, Tuesday, gardening, Wednesday, cleaning day, etc.   “It’s Monday, Mrs. Jolly Bones,” by Warren Hanson, stars an organized but crazy housekeeper who is helped by a crew of animals.   Here is how her week begins:

“It’s Monday, Mrs. Jolly Bones, there’s laundry to be done.
So gather up the dirty clothes and sort them one by one.
Wash them, dry them, iron them, and fold them nice and neat—
Then fling them out the window so they brighten up the street!”  

This book simply begs to be read aloud.  I can’t wait to use it at story time.

 Three new concept books will appeal to football fans for obvious reasons.  They are “Football A B C,” “Football Opposites,” and “Football Colors.” They were all written by Mark Weakland, and are part of the Sports Illustrated Kids Rookie Books.   Of course, “A is for Action!” 

“One Gorilla, a Counting Book” written and illustrated by Anthony Browne,  is another concept book that stirs up some interesting reviews at  The pictures are incredible, looking like formal portraits drawn of the various primates featured in the book.  Comments about the illustrations are uniformly full of praise.  However, Mr. Browne’s last message in the book is one of humans being part of the primate family.  Some parents strongly objected to this in their reviews.  One parent even went so far as to glue the last pages together to protect her children.  My suggestion is, if this concerns you, don’t check out the book.

There were so many cloudy days during our spring and early summer,  that we might be surprised, like the rabbit in “The Black Rabbit” to discover our shadow following along.   Philippa Leathers wrote and illustrated this story about a little rabbit that is afraid of his shadow, until he encounters a real wolf.  “The Black Rabbit” may be a little too scary for some tender hearts since the wolf is large and toothy, but the ending is happy and full of light.

“Uh-Oh, Baby” was written by Nancy Coffelt and illustrated by our summer reading illustrator, Scott Nash.  The baby is Rudy, who starred in “Catch that Baby!” a funny book also written and illustrated by the Coffelt/Nash team.  Rudy tries to give his mommy a present, with hilarious results. 

Shrek wasn’t always a musical comedy star.  In 1990, William Steig wrote and illustrated “Shrek!” the story that inspired the Dreamworks movies and now “Shrek! The Musical” being staged by our own community theater.  The book is very different from the movie and musical versions.  It has a very happy ending, as Steig wrote, “So they got hitched as soon as possible.  And they lived horribly ever after, scaring the socks off all who fell afoul of them.” Don’t you just love a good fairy tale?