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, April 25, 2014

Read, Learn, Meet, and Discover

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

How has the library made your life better?  I saw a news story the other day about a study done in the U.K. that found that visiting the library made people as happy as getting a raise.  I wonder if it’s because browsing at the library is like shopping without having to pay for it!  For many people, the library is their happy place.

St. Paul Public Library has just started a neat public awareness campaign called “Because of the Library”.  It’s being run by their very active Friends of the Library group, the same people who organize the Minnesota Book Awards.  A big part of the effort is gathering people’s stories about the benefits they have gotten from using the library.  They are using the hashtag #BecauseOfTheLibrary on Twitter and Facebook to make it easy for people to share these stories.

We’d love to hear about it if our library or other local libraries have made a difference for you or your family, as well.  Feel free to tag us on Facebook or Twitter to share something good that has happened for you here.  On Facebook, we’re Litchfield Public Library (MN).  On Twitter, you’d add @litchlibrary to your tweet. 

What kinds of things could you share?  It depends on what matters to you.  Our library system’s new strategic plan uses the phrase “read, learn, meet, and discover.”  Those things all happen daily in our building. 

Have you found a great book?  Did a staff member help you find a new author that you’ve enjoyed?  Maybe you’ve checked out a book that helped you learn something and accomplish a goal.  If a librarian helped you find the information you really needed, we’d especially love to know about that.

Do you bring your child to story hour, book club, or Brickhead Club? Have you seen them learning new skills because of it?  Adults learn, too, whether in book clubs or at cultural events.  Sometimes the learning happens one-on-one when a staff person helps a patron with an e-reader or an internet search.

Have you used our study rooms to work on a group project for school or our meeting room to attend a support group or seminar?  Many meetings happen here, and it’s also an informal gathering spot for the community.

Do you use our public computers or wi-fi?  For many people in our rural area, this is the one place where they have access to the internet at reasonably high speed.  (You are going to love it this summer when it will get much, much faster.)  If you’ve used our computers or wi-fi to find a job, do your taxes, or make travel plans, that would be great to know.  If you use the resources on our library websites without coming in to the library, a shout-out on Twitter would be so fun to see. 

Your feedback helps us evaluate whether we’re meeting the goals of our strategic plan, and the point of the plan is to provide you with excellent library service.  Let us know if something good has happened for you because of the library.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Young Adults: The Golden Age?

by Jan Pease

The golden age of young adult novels continues with four new books on my desk this week.  I don’t know why this is a trend, but they each have one-word titles.
I’ve been waiting for Sunrise, by Mike Mullin, for about a year. This novel is the final book in the “Ashfall” trilogy.  This trilogy follows the fate of a young man who walks through the landscape of volcanic winter after the Yellowstone Caldera explodes.  Since there really is a possibility of the Caldera blowing, this book has a sense of reality most dystopian novels don’t share.  Most of the humans and animals in the Midwest die.  The remaining people either work together to survive, or degenerate into horrible outlaw gangs.  The novels are violent and graphic, so I recommend them for older readers.
 Panic, by Lauren Oliver, reminds me of a few events I experienced some 43 years ago, although I never was in as much danger, or trouble, as the teenagers in Lauren Oliver’s town of Carp.  “Panic” is a series of challenges that teenagers can participate in just after graduation from high school. Sometimes people have died playing Panic.  The final event is a game of chicken, with cars running at high speeds and the potential for disaster. 

Author Chris Wooding has a new book, Silver, which starts like a typical British boarding school novel but, according to Booklist,  Wooding has morphed a traditional English boarding school story—bullies, evil headmaster, well-intentioned teacher, and boy/girl drama—into a horror/survival story that would make William Golding and Gary Paulsen envious.”  Wow.  Lord of the Flies meets Hatchet?  The students find themselves fighting for survival with a biological weapon experiment that has somehow gone wrong. 

 “Conspiracy 365” was a riveting series that flew off our shelves.  Readers had to wait each month for the next book to be released. 

 The same publisher, Kane Miller, began a new series this year, “The Last Thirteen,” written by James Phalen.  Counting down from thirteen, this series explores the story of Sam, who is one of the last thirteen Dreamers. This information is quoted from the Kane Miller website: “Caught in a covert battle to preserve life as we know it, he must follow the clues to find twelve more Dreamers. Only this unique group can unravel the mysteries of an ancient prophecy and locate the long-lost key to Earth’s survival.”  The newest book is 9, and the countdown continues.

 If there is a trend in these books, it might be that authors are moving away from the paranormal and toward more action and suspense.  9, which is the most supernatural of the four books,  is still action-packed.  Of course, more action can mean more violence. The Ashfall Trilogy can be exceptionally gruesome.  At least there are no vampires, werewolves, or zombies.  See you at the library!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Winter is over, and winter reading is, too

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Our annual adult winter reading program is done for this year.  The theme was “Escape with a Good Read”.  We have a summer reading program for kids when they’re out of school, but we hold our adult program in the winter when most grownups have more time to read. 

Our winter reading program involves simply signing up (and getting a book bag for doing so), then turning in brief reviews for any books read between early January and the end of March.  This year we gave a coffee mug to everyone who turned in two reviews and entered people into a prize drawing when they turned in five.  Our Friends group donated prizes from local businesses for the winners.

We keep the reviews out in a basket at the front desk for anyone to read.  They’re anonymous, so all you know is that a local person wrote them.  I’ve gone through them to see what our local readers have reviewed and what they thought. 

Our adult readers turned in four reviews for three Lee Child books: The Affair, Bad Luck and Trouble, and 61 Hours.  All got very enthusiastic recommendations, with different reviewers saying the books are thrillers that you cannot put down.

We received four reviews of two Jude Deveraux books: The Blessing and High Tide.  That’s interesting because these aren’t new books; they came out in 1998 and 1999.  But I see that one of them is currently checked out again, for the 50th time in our library.  People obviously love Deveraux’s books.  Our winter reviewers gave these romances four and five out of five stars. 

Four books by Al and JoAnna Lacy were reviewed: High is the Eagle, Let Freedom Ring, A Prince Among Them, and The Secret Place.  These are Christian historical fiction.  All of the reviewers  recommend these titles, giving them four and five stars.

Three Earlene Fowler books were reviewed by three different people (at least I’m guessing so based on the variety of handwriting styles): Broken Dishes, Delectable Mountains, and State Fair.  All are mysteries featuring the character Benni Harper.  All three people recommended them. 

One of the most-read authors in the program was William W. Johnstone, sometimes with J.A. Johnstone.  These are Westerns: Massacre at Whiskey Flats, Hard Ride to Hell, Trek of the Mountain Man, Savage Guns, and The Violent Land.  Three of these are in the Family Jensen series, one is in the Last Mountain Man series, and one is in the Blood Valley series.  All come recommended by possibly one reviewer.

The honor of being our most-reviewed author goes to Karen Kingsbury, with seven reviews turned in for six books: The Chance, Fifteen Minutes, Hannah’s Hope, Just Beyond the Clouds, This Side of Heaven, and A Thousand Tomorrows.  All were rated four or five stars.  One was described as “inspiring”, which is what Kingsbury is known for.

We will have the reviews at the front desk until the end of April.  If you’re looking for ideas about what to read, feel free to take a look.  And next year, I hope you’ll sign up for the program, too.  It’s very easy with no real commitment, just a way to track your reading and share your opinion of the books you read.  During a Minnesota winter, we can all use an escape in a good book. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

It's Real, It's True, It's Nonfiction!

By Jan Pease

Do you remember the nonfiction section of the children’s library when you were young?  Wholesome biographies, books about how to generate electricity from a potato, or interesting animals from far away, illustrated in black and white drawings, with plain covers?  Well, we have some new nonfiction books that are something else.

Perhaps the most beautiful book is The Usborne Book of Famous Paintings by Rosie Dickins.     Philip Hopman created drawings that help us understand  the  35 paintings, which are reproduced in gorgeous full color. Each painting has  tidbits of information that tell us more.  Really looking at works of art is a skill that I lack, so I enjoyed skimming through this lovely book. 

Pure Grit, by Mary Cronk Farrell, is another remarkable nonfiction book.  Ms. Farrell tells the story of Navy nurses who came under attack when the Japanese invaded and conquered the  Philippines.  The nurses continued to care for patients even when their hospitals were moved into the jungle or underground in tunnels.  Eventually the nurses who were not able to evacuate were imprisoned as prisoners of war in horrific conditions.  The story of their survival is even more remarkable because they all survived to come home.  I highly recommend this book.

The Jesus Storybook Bible, stories from the Bible written by Sally Lloyd Jones, is another beautiful book produced by the Usborne company.   The stories are simplified enough to be child-friendly.   David Suchet narrated the three CDs that accompany the book.  

So many children love stories about trains that I had to add The Big Book of Big Trains, by Megan Cullis.  This is a large book with four foldouts that show trains in all their glory.  Bits of information are included, but it’s the illustrations that really stand out. 

The popularity of Rick Riordan’s series, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” and the “Heroes of Olympus”  has caused a rise in the number of requests for books about Roman and Greek mythology.  Greek Myths and Legends,  by Cheryl Evans and Dr. Anne Millard, is a compact volume that is full of information about the major  gods and goddesses.  A  section at the end of the book, “Who’s Who in the Greek myths,” gives a short explanation of gods, goddesses, demigods, and  heroes and how they are related to each other. 

In August the world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.  The Story of the First World War, by Paul Dowswell, gives a child-sized explanation of the first war to be called a World War.   So much of our world changed at the time of the great war.  I remember my grandmother, who was born in 1901, talking about not traveling alone, not learning how to drive, and slapping a boy who gave her a buggy ride and got too fresh.  She didn’t talk about the greater changes in the world, such as the redrawing of the map of Europe, the United States becoming a major world power, and the rights that women began to receive throughout the world as many countries granted women the right to vote. 

These great nonfiction books are waiting for you at the Litchfield library – see you there!