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, August 29, 2014

We support education

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

It's back to school time!  It will be quieter in the library during the school day now (except for storytimes).  It might be busier after school and in the evening when students with iPads and MacBooks need WiFi to do their homework.  We’ll be interested to see how that affects library traffic this fall.
The public library can be a resource for school in a number of ways beyond basic internet access.  Librarians still help people find information even in this era of search-it-yourself.  If you have a paper to write, whether you’re in middle school or graduate school, we can help you search for or order sources. 

One of the best sources is provided by the Minnesota state library agency.  It’s called ELM, the Electronic Library for Minnesota, and it can be accessed at  You can get to it from home or we can help you with it at the library.  The website offers access to many databases of articles and encyclopedias, all high-quality, reputable sources.  If you’re in college and your professor requires it, you can limit your results to peer-reviewed journals.  Elementary school students can use the section especially for students their age that includes Britannica Learning Zone and Searchasaurus, a way to search elementary-age magazines, dictionaries, and encyclopedias.  I have used ELM countless times for my own grad school work as well as to help library patrons.  It has so much to offer.

Litchfield high school students sometimes come to us for help finding a book for a reading requirement.  We are glad to help you come up with ideas for that.  There are many options right here in our own building, plus we can order almost anything else you’d like to read.

Newsbank is a newspaper database that Litchfield Library subscribes to, primarily because it includes the Litchfield Independent Review in a searchable form.  But it also includes current event reports that could be useful to students.  This month’s include the latest articles on the Ebola outbreak, the threat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and the fighting in Gaza.  A social studies student may be able to use these special collections for current events homework.

If you’re getting ready to take a college entrance exam, you could check out one of our test prep guides.  We have the 2014 edition of Cracking the ACT from the Princeton Review and their 2014 edition of 11 Practice Tests for the SAT and PSAT.  We also have new test prep books coming in soon for the GRE, the LSAT, the GMAT, and the nursing school entrance exams. 

Parents looking for ideas for those lunchboxes could check out The Best Homemade Kids’ Lunches on the Planet.  This has been a popular book this summer.  The author of “100 Days of Real Food”, Lisa Leake, endorses it.  I am completely stuck in a rut for cold lunches, so I think my kids would appreciate it if I’d check it out sometime.

And for anyone interested in our educational system and teaching, we have the book Getting Schooled by Garret Keizer.  Keizer is a teacher who left the profession and then returned fourteen years later to the same school, putting him in a unique position to see what has changed in high school education in the past two decades.  Critics say his writing style is very engaging and that he has some unique insights on what should be changed in our schools. 

Supporting life-long learning is one of the purposes of the public library.  Whether you have little ones to bring to story hour so that they can start to learn pre-reading skills, students to bring in to do homework, or sources to find for your own college paper, we’re here for you.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of WWI

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War.  Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on June 28, 1914. A month later, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.  In the first days of August, Germany declared war on Russia, France, and Belgium.  On August 4, Germany invaded Belgium, beginning the war itself, which would last over four years. 

We will be seeing commemorations of the Great War, as it was first known, over the next few years, especially once we get to 2017, the 100th anniversary of the United States’ involvement in the war.  Most people know far less about World War I than World War II.  Following are some of the recent books we have on World War I that can help fill in your knowledge of this era that truly changed the world.  Many of them focus on the events that happened at the beginning of the war, exactly 100 years ago.

We have three books published in 2013 that analyze the causes of the war and the events leading up to its beginning.  Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War tells the story of the outbreak of the war, from the breakdown in diplomacy to the end of 1914.  British historian Max Hastings makes the case that Germany and Austria-Hungary were mostly to blame, and he argues against the typical judgment that the war was pointless, making the case that Germany had to be defeated for the sake of the freedom of Europe.

In July 1914: Countdown to War, author Sean McMeekin takes a different, more controversial perspective.  He argues that a small group of statesmen in Russia and France, in addition to Germany and Austria-Hungary, sought to start the war.  He bases his case on gaps in documentation that suggest that important players in these countries destroyed and doctored evidence, and on surviving correspondence in which these politicians blame their opponents for starting the war.

The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 is yet another analysis of the causes of the war.  Author Christopher Clark starts the book with a thorough explanation of the European, especially Balkan, politics that set the scene for the war to begin.  The rest of the book is a scholarly analysis of the beginnings of the conflict, with Clark carefully avoiding placing the blame on any countries or individuals.

 The Long Shadow: The Legacies of the Great War in the Twentieth Century was just published in the U.S. in May.  It was written by a University of Cambridge historian, David Reynolds, and it won the 2014 PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize, a British award for the best work of history.  Reynolds argues that we are still struggling to understand the First World War.  He analyzes the impact of the war on the period between world wars and after World War II, showing that global attitudes and ideas changed significantly because of it.

The Great War: A Photographic Narrative is probably the best anthology of World War I photographs ever printed.  The photos come from the collections of the Imperial War Museum in London, curated by Hilary Roberts.  The book is organized by year, showing the history of the war from the arms race to the armistice, through 305 photographs. 

Look for more books and media coverage on World War I in the next few years that will cover many aspects of the war as it unfolded.  Understanding history is important to understanding the world we live in now.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What I Did on My Summer Vacation!

By Jan Pease

What I did on my summer vacation: I was a camp counselor at Camp Read a Lot in Marshall, MN.   Now, one of the jokes in our family is that my idea of camping is the Duluth Radisson, so this camp was well within my comfort zone.   Camp Read a Lot is a joint project of the Plum Creek and Pioneerland Library Systems.   Teachers and other interested persons, librarians included, are invited to attend a conference, network with colleagues, and learn about wonderful children's books.   They can receive continuing education credits for their time, and that component includes reading many, many books, writing a very brief review, and sharing ideas about how to use the books in a classroom or story time.

 The first day of camp,Wednesday, was devoted to elementary grades 2-5.  The morning speaker was Alison McGhee, an American author of books for both children and adults.   She is a dynamic speaker and the time passed much too quickly.   She emphasized how powerful individuals are in children's lives, both negative and positive.   In her writing, she says that everything goes back to childhood experiences. She directed us in a writing exercise that was really quite an experience.

 The afternoon speaker was the great Kathy Baxter, who is very well-known in library circles.   Her energy is infectious.   Her special emphasis was on how to get boys excited about reading by introducing them to nonfiction.   The rest of the day was spent in book discussions.   My role was to move from table to table talking about four books with groups made up of both teachers and librarians.   These interesting, articulate people made the discussion time fly.

 On Thursday the day was devoted to early literacy.  The campers were preschool and kindergarten teachers and librarians.  The morning speakers were Jodi Wambeke and Ann Trochlil, who are very involved in Early Family Programs in Willmar.  They gave great information that was especially useful for early childhood classrooms. 

  The afternoon speaker was simply incredible.   Kimberly K. Faurot now works at the St. Paul Public Library.   Her presentation was called “Bring your Storytimes and Early Literacy Lessons to Life Using Props, Puppets and Pizazz.”   Kimberly led us in using voices and excitement while reading.   She showed us how to use props and puppets.   She finished her presentation by telling Helme Heine's story, The Most Wonderful Egg in the World.  She had chickens on a felt board, eggs, and a costume for herself as the queen.   She is a treasure.  

 The afternoon's discussion centered on picture books.   You know the phrase, “preaching to the choir”?  Well, these teachers and librarians love picture books and leading a discussion was very, very easy.   I have the lists of books at the children's desk if you're interested.   These are wonderful books and have made a great addition to the Litchfield collection.   We own all of the early literacy books, most of the second and third grade books, and some of the grade 4 and 5 books.   Happy reading!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Come have fun with the GOATS on Saturday!

G.O.A.T. (Litchfield Public Library's Group Of Advising Teens) invites ANYONE interested (age 12-18) to join us from 2:00-3:30 pm Saturday August 9 in the large meeting room at the library. We plan to have some embarrassing musical fun while making plans for an End-of-Summer BASH. (Karaoke anyone? Musical instruments and amp optional.) Refreshments will be served.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Listen while you drive

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Audiobooks are very popular for car trips and commuters.  Some people also listen to them for entertainment at home while they’re working on other things.  This summer while you’re driving up north, canning peaches, or staining your deck, try an audiobook from the library to so that you can have the pleasure of reading when you can’t look at the pages of a book.

Litchfield Library has a substantial collection of books on CD.  We also have kept some books on tape that have still been getting checked out.  Some of you must still have tape players in your cars or stereos. 

The newest option is downloadable audiobooks from our Overdrive service at, the website where you can check out e-books.  To find the audiobooks, you can choose “Audiobook fiction” or “Audiobook nonfiction” from the menus at the top of our Overdrive page.  You can check out and download our audiobooks for free using your library card, and then listen to them on your smartphone, your iPod or other music player, or your computer.  Like our e-books, they automatically return themselves after three weeks, and you will never get an overdue fine on them.

Our newest downloadable audiobooks include The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson, the first young adult fantasy novel from the bestselling author; The Housemaid’s Daughter, historical fiction set in apartheid-era South Africa; and The Man Called Noon, a classic western by Louis L’Amour.

Among our newest audiobooks on CD at Litchfield is Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson.  This is a gritty story of a social worker in rural Montana who meets a malnourished 11-year-old boy with a father who is a paranoid survivalist.  Reviewers say the well-written novel has a very strong sense of place and the people who live there.

We have one of the most recent Stone Barrington novels on CD, Carnal Curiosity.  Stuart Woods’ adventure novels are always popular.  In this 29th installment, Stone gets involved with a beautiful woman who is part of a group orchestrating thefts from the wealthiest people in the country.  Critics say this fits the usual pattern of Woods’ novels but that it’s entertaining anyway.

The latest Sisterhood novel from Fern Michaels is Kiss and Tell.  We have it in audiobook form at Litchfield.  The Sisterhood is a group of vigilantes, mostly older women who go outside the law for justice when the legal system can’t provide it.  In this novel, the Sisterhood learns of shady dealings at an assisted living facility, so they get the group back together to beat a con artist at his own game.

Nantucket Sisters is a new novel by Nancy Thayer that we have on CD.  This is truly a beach read, telling the story of two girls who spend every summer together in Nantucket while growing up.  They are from different social classes, but they’re best friends who grow up to become involved with the same man. 

All of these are definitely adult books.  Many families enjoy listening to children’s audiobooks together on a car trip, so consider browsing in our children’s department for something that will appeal to everyone who will be traveling together when you have kids in the group.  Our library staff will be happy to help you find something that will be right for you.