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.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Big Awards are Big News!

By Jan Pease

The   American Library Association Midwinter Conference met this week in Philadelphia. As far as I’m concerned, the most interesting thing about the annual midwinter conference is the announcement of the big book awards, the Caldecott and Newbery medal and honor books.  I follow the announcements closely, and tend to take it personally when I miss a major award-winning book.    The movers and shakers of the library world get together midwinter and midsummer.  The next big ALA conference will be in Las Vegas toward the end of June.  Given the state of weather in Pennsylvania this winter, I wonder if the attendees wish the locations had been reversed.  Really? Las Vegas in June?  I digress. 
Of course, the Newbery Medal is right at the top of the list.  The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year, beginning in 1922.  This year, the Newbery Medal was awarded to Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, written by Kate DiCamillo, who also wrote Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux.  It's the story of a young comic book enthusiast and cynic, Flora, and a superhero squirrel named Ulysses.  Ms. DiCamillo now lives in Minnesota, and is a favorite.  Of course we have Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. Honor books include Doll Bones, by Holly Black, The Year of Billy Miller, by Kevin Henkes, One Came Home, by Amy Timberlake, and Paperboy, by Vince Vawter.  I missed Paperboy, which seemed to come out of nowhere.  I will order it in February.  So we have four out of five, but who’s counting?

The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The Caldecott Medal went to Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca. The book follows family and crew traveling together on America's new transcontinental railroad in the summer of 1869. I put in on the January book order, before the announcements were made. Does that count?

The Honor books include Journey, written and illustrated by Aaron Becker. We have a copy of this lovely book.  I chose not to place Flora and the Flamingo, written and illustrated by Molly Idle, in our collection. I reviewed it at Camp Read a Lot last summer, but I felt it just didn’t measure up to other contenders. And it has flaps.  Oh well, sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss.  The third honor book, Mr. Wuffles!, was written and illustrated by David Wiesner, and is in the book order. I waffled on Mr. Wuffles!

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.  The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.  Although there are several books honored, I usually try to concentrate on the author and illustrator awards.    This year, P.S. Be Eleven, written by Rita Williams-Garcia received the author award and is on order.   Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me, illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Daniel Beaty, received the illustrator award.  I placed it in the Grove City collection, but probably won’t add it to Litchfield.
 Another category that I follow closely is the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for beginning reader book.  The award went to The Watermelon Seed, written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli.  The honor books include A Big Guy Took My Ball, written and illustrated by Mo Willems, and Penny and Her Marble, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. These three books are in the Litchfield collection.  I missed Ball, written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan. I don’t know if we need more books about spherical items.

I was correct about 73% of the time for these major children’s awards.   If I went to Litchfield High School this would probably be a C. Oh well.  As I mentioned before, sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss. See you at the library!

Monday, January 27, 2014

For your listening pleasure

by Beth Cronk, head librarian

The 2014 Grammys were awarded last night.  As with most awards, all of the nominees offer some great material.   I’ll highlight here the Grammy-nominated and Grammy-winning music and audiobooks that our library has available.  Whether you’ll enjoy particular recordings or not is of course a matter of your own taste.  Is there anything as debatable as whether a song is good or not?

Blake Shelton was nominated for best country solo performance for the song Mine Would Be You.  The romantic ballad was also nominated for best country song.  This track is on Shelton’s Based on a True Story, which was nominated for best country album.  Shelton has gained new fans through his recent work as a coach and judge on the television show The Voice.  No awards for him last night, but country fans may really enjoy this CD anyway.

The Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell album Old Yellow Moon won the Grammy for best Americana album.  Crowell joined Harris’ Hot Band in 1975 as a guitarist and harmony singer.  On this album, the duo sings four original songs written by Crowell, as well as Hank DeVito’s “Hanging Up My Heart”, Roger Miller’s “Invitation to the Blues”, and Allen Reynolds’ “Dreaming My Dreams”. 

To Be Loved won the Grammy for best traditional pop vocal album.  This Michael Bublé CD includes standards such as “You Make Me Feel So Young”, “Something Stupid”, and “Young at Heart”.   Bublé became a jazz and old-fashioned pop singer because he grew up listening to his grandfather’s collection of jazz records.

You may not realize that audiobooks win Grammys, too.  Stephen Colbert’s America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t won the Grammy for best spoken word album.  We have the unabridged version of the book, read by the author.  The host of The Colbert Report delivers his customary political humor and satire.  The book is based on the premise that America is the greatest country and perfect in every way, but that it’s broken and needs Colbert’s ideas to pull it back from the brink.

Billy Crystal’s audiobook is also nominated for best spoken word album.  Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’mGoing, and Where the Hell Are My Keys? is a memoir of Crystal’s life, with a focus on what it’s like to age.  Now 65, Crystal avoids the clichés of Hollywood memoirs and makes his writing as funny and sweet as his much-lauded stand-up routine.  We have the unabridged version of the book, read by the author.

You can find all of these CDs at the Litchfield Library.  Checking out CDs can give you a great way to pass the time in the car or to discover new music that you’d like to buy on CD or iTunes.  Remember that copying music from a library CD to your own computer would be creating an illegal pirated copy. 

Other libraries in our system have different CDs available that you can order or check out at those locations.  For example, the Grove City Library has Grammy-winning and Grammy-nominated CDs available by Daft Punk, Imagine Dragons, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, David Bowie, Alicia Keys, and Little Big Town.  You can visit them to check out those albums or order them to be picked up at the Litchfield Library. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

STEM at the Library

 By Jan Pease

Fun times at the library!  Darcy Cole, local 4-H coordinator, sent some pictures taken at Fun with 4-H Tuesday, January 14.   Students built “Rube Goldberg” designs that looked like the game “Mouse Trap.”  I would have loved doing that when I was the age of these students.  It’s an ingenious way to learn about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, now often referred to as STEM.

LEGO Building Blocks are another fun way to incorporate STEM experiences into the lives of our children.  We hope that young people ages 8-14 will come to the first building club tonight, January 23rd, at 6:30 p.m.  Brandt Johnson is a big LEGO fan. I think of him as a “master builder,” but he tells me he’s just a regular dad, not an official LEGO master.  We’re calling our group, “Brickheads.” If you love to build with LEGOS, come and join in.  Story Hour will still take place at 7, so younger children will have something to do. Parents are always welcome to join in the fun.

School Library Journal sponsors its own version of “March Madness,” called the Battle of the Books.    The contenders and judges for the sixth annual “Battle of the Books,” have been chosen, and now it begins, as of January 15th.  I think it would be a good winter activity to have our own Battle of the Books.  Read as many of the books on the list as you can, make your choices, and we’ll post the winners week by week and compare them to the national results as they are posted at School Library Journal.  Basically, the judges choose between two books at a time, the “battle.”   The winner advances through the brackets, just like basketball.  I’ll post a chart at the children’s desk and it will begin to make sense.

Look for these titles, which are great reading, and follow the Battle of the Books at the School Library Journal website,, and at the children’s desk at Litchfield Public Library.

Here is the list of contenders:
THE ANIMAL BOOK by Steve Jenkins
A CORNER OF WHITE by Jaclyn Moriarty
DOLL BONES by Holly Black
ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell
FAR FAR AWAY by Tom McNeal
FLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo
HOKEY POKEY by Jerry Spinelli
MARCH BOOK ONE by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
MIDWINTERBLOOD by Marcus Sedgwick
P.S. BE ELEVEN by Rita Williams-Garcia
ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein
THE THING ABOUT LUCK by Cynthia Kadohata

The winner of the 2013 BOB was: No Crystal Stair, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.  May the best book win!

Friday, January 10, 2014

With a little help from our Friends

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

I would like to thank the Friends of the Litchfield Public Library for their donations to the library this past year.  They gave generous donations that were used to buy many books for our adult collection and to build a quality children’s DVD collection to replace the VHS tapes that needed to go.  They also helped to fund our children’s programming throughout the year, including the summer reading program, preschool storyhour, and children’s book clubs.

Our Friends members have been working hard throughout the year to make the monthly book sale better than ever.  New people have taken on leadership roles in the group, making it possible for it to go on being a great source of support for our local library.   If you’re interested in getting involved in this wonderful group of supporters, come to our January meeting on the 21st at 7 p.m. in the library meeting room.

One of the things I was able to do with the book funding from the Friends was to buy some of the books that appeared on the lists of the best books of the year.  Here are a few examples:

The Luminaries is the novel that won the Man Booker Prize this year.  The award is given to the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the U.K., the Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland.  Author Eleanor Catton, who is not yet thirty, was born in Canada, raised in New Zealand, and earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.  “The Luminaries” is a historical mystery about a man seeking his fortune in the goldfields of New Zealand in 1866, who is drawn into a series of unsolved crimes.  Despite its length, readers say they can’t put it down.

Author Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award in 2011 for her novel Salvage the Bones.  Her new memoir, Men We Reaped, was named one of the best books of 2013 by Publishers Weekly and others.  Ward examines Southern rural poverty and racism after losing her brother and four other young men in her life to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the problems that black men in poverty face.  The title is from a Harriet Tubman quotation: “When we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.”

The Panopticon made Library Journal’s, NPR’s, and Amazon’s lists of the best of the year.  This gritty debut novel by Jenni Fagan seems to be hard to categorize as either dystopian or realistic.  Some have compared the 15-year-old main character Anais to Lisbeth Salander and Oliver Twist, and Fagan’s writing to Margaret Atwood and Albert Camus.  Anais has spent nearly all of her life in the foster care system and isn’t sure if she beat a police officer into a coma, because she was on drugs at the time.  At the Panopticon facility, she befriends other kids who’ve fallen through the safety net, and she becomes convinced she’s being watched as part of a sinister experiment. 

Pilgrim’s Wilderness: A True Story of Faith and Madness on the Alaska Frontier is a stranger-than-fiction story of a modern-day homesteading family, listed among Amazon’s best books of the year.  Initially welcomed as a wholesome if eccentric addition to a small Alaska community in 2002, the 17-member family became controversial when “Papa Pilgrim” bulldozed his own road across national park lands.  Author Tom Kizzia investigated the story for the Anchorage Daily News and discovered that the father had a secret, strange past.  As people in the community took sides on whether Pilgrim should have the right to build the road, he became increasingly volatile and was revealed to be a sociopath.  The New York Times said, “Not since The Shining has family life off the grid seemed as terrifying.”

If these books or others on the lists of the best of the year interest you, take a look in our catalog or ask a library staff member to help you.  We will be happy to put a well-written book in your hands this winter.

Some of the best books of 2013 lists:
NPR (this one is interactive to help you find something you'd like)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fun and Learning at the Library

by Mary Hansen

At the library, we will start the New Year off with a bang thanks to Minnesota Legacy Funding.    Children’s author and illustrator, Nancy Carlson, will be our guest on Saturday, January 11 at 10:00 AM in Litchfield and at 1:00 PM in Dassel.  Children of all ages are welcome to attend this event. 

Litchfield artist Gerry Kulzer will be teaching Adult Calligraphy.  This is a three session class that will be held Tuesdays, February 4, 11, and 18 at 6:00 PM.  Gerry says, “Adults attending this class will be provided all materials needed to get started on a new endeavor that combines precision with artistic expression.” Participants will learn how to use traditional calligraphic styles as well as modern manuscript calligraphy styles.  Please call the library, 693-2483 to register.

Minnesota author Douglas Wood will be presenting two programs in Litchfield on Saturday March 8th. The first program is entitled “Earth Songs and Earth Stories”.
This program is geared toward children of all ages and their families and will be held at 10 a.m.  Participants will experience a program in which they will discover things about themselves and the natural part of the world in which they live.  The second program is entitled “Power of Words”.  This program will be held at 1:00 p.m. and is for adults.  This is a hands-on workshop in which participants will explore the three components of writing:  magic, meaning and metaphor. 

While online recently I ran across a list of 9 reasons why reading is important.  Because I am always looking for new ways to encourage children to read this list got my attention. You can access this list at   It seems to me the list is accurate and inspiring.  Let me share it with you.  

9 Reasons Why Reading is Important

1.     Children who read often get better at it. This is pretty much common sense.  After all, practice makes perfect in almost everything we do and reading is no different.

2.     Reading exercises our brains. Reading is a much more complex task for the human brain than watching television is. Reading strengthens brain connections and builds new connections.

3.     Reading improves concentration.  Children have to sit still and sit quietly so they can focus on what they are reading. If they read regularly as they grow up, they develop the ability to do this for longer and longer periods.

4.     Reading teaches children about the world around them. Through reading they learn about people, places, and events outside their own experience. They are exposed to ways of life and beliefs that are different from their own. It builds background on which children can learn confidently.

5.     Reading improves vocabulary and enriches language skills which in turn helps children learn to write well.

6.     Reading develops a child’s imagination. When we read our brain translates the words and descriptions of people, places and things into pictures. 

7.     Reading helps children develop empathy.   We use our own experience to understand how we would feel in the same situations and identify with the characters to feel what the characters are feeling.

8.     Reading is great entertainment and you can take it anywhere.  A small paperback will fit in your bag or perhaps even your pocket so you can read anytime.

9.     Reading relaxes the body and calms the mind.  This is an important point because we seem to have forgotten how to relax and especially how to be silent.

Because of all the reasons listed above children do better at school in all subject areas. Since reading is such an important part of our lives we would like to invite children ages 6-18 to participate in one of our book clubs. The books are always available for you to pick up at the library. The ages listed are guidelines choose the group that works for you.

Beginner’s Book Club, for children ages 6-9, meets from 3-4 PM on the 2nd Thursday of the month.  Join Mrs. Pease on Thursday, January 9 to discuss Pee Wee Scouts: Cookies and Crutches by Judy Delton.

Get Caught Reading Book Club, for children ages 9-12 meets every third Thursday of the month.  Join Mary Hansen at 3 PM. on Thursday, January 16 to discuss the book Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.   

Book to Movie Club, for grades 6-12, meets Monday, January 27th at 6:00 PM to watch the movie The Tale of Despereaux and discuss the book as they watch.  All students are welcome to join Tiana Schweim, whether they’ve read or not.

Whether you are coming in for programming or to pick up a book to read on these cold winter days we’re always happy to welcome you at the library!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Gaming night cancelled due to weather

Gaming night is cancelled for tonight, January 6.  Stay safe in this extreme cold!