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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Popular books for the people on your shopping list

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

As you work on your Christmas shopping, are you looking for some book ideas for people on your lists?  I can tell you which new titles are popular in our library system.  One of these might be just the right thing for someone you know
Killing Patton: The Strange Death of World War II’s Most Audacious General is the latest in the Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard “Killing” series.  In this one, the authors question whether the general’s death from injuries sustained in a car accident was really accidental.  It’s the in-demand book in our library system right now.  For the history buffs and conspiracy theorists on your list.

The last book in Nora Roberts’ Cousins O’Dwyer trilogy has just come out.  Blood Magick wraps up the series about the Dark Witch gift shop in County Mayo, Ireland, and the owner’s forbidden romance.  For fans of Nora Roberts and paranormal romance.

John Grisham has a new novel out, Gray Mountain.  This is his 27th to be published.   A young lawyer is laid off from her comfortable New York job and ends up working in legal aid in Appalachia.  This is the first time Grisham has had a female main character.  For fans of legal thrillers and those who care about environmental causes. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s autobiography has just been published and is expected to be available from booksellers this month after a couple of delays this fall.  Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography is a project of the South Dakota State Historical Society, which is a very small publisher.  This is Laura’s first draft of her life story, written in 1930 before she began her novels.  This book contains new background research by the historical society that gives context to Laura’s story.  It should be interesting to see which stories were left out of the eventual series because they were too mature for children, as well as to find out what Laura’s original writing was like.  This book is on my Christmas list, and I keep hearing that other people are asking for it, too.  For Little House fans, obviously.

Stolen from the Garden: The Kidnapping of Virginia Piper is the true story of a wealthy socialite who was kidnapped for ransom in Orono in 1972.  Author William Swanson reviewed documents about the case and interviewed many of the people who were closely involved.  In the end, Swanson makes his case for what he thinks really happened.  For fans of true crime.

James Patterson books are always popular, and this is true for the latest Alex Cross novel, Hope to Die.  Patterson has a new book out every other month or so, pairing up with other writers to pump them out.  This one appears to be written by Patterson himself, and the reviews are good.  Detective Alex Cross is battling a psychotic genius to get his family back.  This isn’t the place to start reading the series, so it would be for people who are already fans of these thrillers.

Lila is the latest novel from Pulitzer Prize-winner Marilynne Robinson.  It tells the story of the minister’s wife from Robinson’s novel Gilead, who is the mother of the main character of her novel Home.  It isn’t necessary to have read the other two books, however.  This novel tells of Lila’s difficult years of abuse and homelessness and how she adjusts to her new life with such a past.  For literary readers. 

One good thing about library books is that you can check them out for free before you decide if you want to buy a copy for yourself.  The titles I’m covering here have waiting lists because they are so popular, so you may or may not have the chance to borrow these before Christmas.  But we have shelves full of so many other things that you can preview before you make your Christmas list or do your shopping.  Have a happy holiday season!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Ho! Ho! Ho!

By Jan Pease

It’s early Christmas at the library with the arrival of new books that have come in the “nick” of time. 

Little Blue Truck’s Christmas, by Alice Schertle, is a Christmas tree counting book for very young children.  It includes twinkle lights, always fun in a book.  At least the batteries are replaceable, but there seems to be no off switch.  Now I just hope the lights will twinkle until I can use the book at story time.  I think this would be a great gift book for a child just discovering the magic of books.

“Here Comes Santa Cat,”  by Deborah Underwood, stars a cat named Cat who communicates by holding up signs, like the very talented animals do on Facebook.    Cat needs to get off of Santa’s naughty list, and how he succeeds makes for a very funny, nearly wordless book. 

Rick Walton and Nathan Hale, who collaborate under the pen name of Ludworst Bemonster, have written a parody of “The Night Before Christmas” that they titled “Frankenstein’s Fright Before  Christmas.”  While you may not be shrieking with laughter, this is a book with an entirely different look at the visit from Santa Claus, who arrives at an orphanage  for monsters with a resounding Boom!

“A Chick ‘n’ Pug Christmas”   was written and illustrated by Jennifer Sattler.   My favorite scene from the book is the last page, showing Chick and Pug flying through the air on a snow shovel, silhouetted against the moon as little children say “Santa!”   This is a very funny book. 

“And Then Comes Christmas”, by Tom Brenner, is one of those sweet holiday books that make me feel like drinking hot cocoa in front of a gentle fire.  I’ve read a lot of holiday-themed books, but never one that uses the phrase, “Lo and behold it’s Christmas morning!”

If animals could talk, and if a llama somehow joined a horse, cat, dog, spider and a few more traditional stable animals in Bethlehem, and if the animals spoke in short rhymes, they might produce “Manger,” poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins.  Perhaps this book also needs the gentle fire, hot cocoa, and a small child looking at the animals and imagining them speaking. 
“A Little Women Christmas,” adapted from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women by Heather Vogel Frederick, is another book that needs to be shared in front of a cozy fire.  The illustrations are warm, lit by candle light and fireside, and the adaptation is a bit easier to understand than the original.  After reading this adaptation, I’m in the mood to re-read “Little Women”

Many of the legends about Santa Claus have their roots in the stories about Saint Nicholas, a real person who was also known as Nikolaos of Myra.  He was a historic 4th-century Christian saint and Greek Bishop of Myra in Lycia, now part of Turkey.  Several legends about Saint Nicholas are included in “The Legend of Saint Nicholas,”  a lovely book  written by Anselm Grun, a Benedictine monk who lives in Germany.  Whether you’re waiting for Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus, try reading something new this holiday season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Which books are the best of 2014?

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

I love lists of the best books of the year, but I can’t believe how early they’ve come out this year.  Library Journal had their list published online on October 22!  I’m looking over that list, as well as Amazon’s and Publishers Weekly’s  lists of the best of 2014.  I like to see where they agree on what was the best, and how many of them I ordered for our library in the past year.  How many of these have you read?

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James made all three lists.  This is a novel about the attempted assassination of Bob Marley during political turmoil in Jamaica in the ‘70s.  The style is unique, with multiple characters providing an oral history of the events in dialect.  One reviewer said that he didn’t expect to enjoy it but that it was both entertaining and eye-opening, with strong characters.

The Martian by Andy Weir also made all three lists, as well as the New York Times bestsellers list.  This is a science fiction novel about an astronaut who is one of the first people to walk on Mars.  He’s stranded and presumed dead, and he has to try to survive on his own with the equipment left with him.  If you like suspenseful survival stories, this sounds like a book for you.

Margaret Atwood has a new book of short stories called Stone Mattress: Nine Tales.  This collection was included on two of the best-of lists I've seen so far.  The stories are wild, dark, and funny, in a science fiction/horror vein.

Euphoria is a novel by Lily King that has made a couple of the lists of the best, as well.  It’s a story of three anthropologists in New Guinea between the two world wars.  Inspired by but only loosely based on the life of Margaret Mead, the novel is about a love triangle involving a married couple and another anthropologist they encounter in the wild while fleeing from a cannibalistic tribe. 

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald is a nonfiction book that has been chosen for two of the lists mentioned above.  Greenwald, an investigative reporter for The Guardian, met with Snowden in 2013 and accepted documents from him on the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.  He was one of the writers of the series of reports on the controversial matter, winning the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service with others at The Guardian US for that reporting.  Whatever you think of the subject, you can read Greenwald’s further revelations and perspectives in this book.

The Bone Clocks is a literary science fiction novel that is in demand by our library patrons as well as acclaimed by critics.  Author David Mitchell also wrote “Cloud Atlas”.  The plot sounds incredibly complicated, spanning the years from 1984 to the 2030s and involving a secret supernatural war.  Reviewers are practically breathless in the ways they describe the writing.

It’s interesting how some books appear on every year-end list, while another book can be named some publication’s best book of the year but not make another’s top 100.  Even among those who review books for a living, so much depends on taste.  I hope you’ll find some new books to read that will fit your taste.  Browse our shelves or order something particular you’ll enjoy from the library.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Closed for Veterans Day

Pioneerland libraries are closed today for Veterans Day.  Veterans, thank you for your service to our country.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Library closing early today

The Litchfield Library will be closing at 11 a.m. today due to the weather.  Book to Movie Club is rescheduled for next Monday, November 17.  Gaming night is cancelled.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Just Ask Emily

By Jan Pease
A chance encounter with a fellow patient made me think about manners. At the time, it was irritating to receive an unsolicited comment about me. With holidays approaching, I began to think about how we pass good manners along to our family members. 

Emily Post, who gave etiquette advice long before there was an Internet, has a page on her website,, called “Table Manners for the Four to Seven Year Old.”  She states that “The Golden Rule of Parenting” is:  Always behave the way you want your children to behave.

She says you can expect your young children “to  sit at the table with family, help set and clear the table (with assistance), participate in table conversation, use table utensils, serve and pass dishes, and chew with the mouth closed.”

She states that the relevant manners are that the child  “asks to be excused, is quiet during grace, participates in conversation during the meal, uses utensils and napkin,  stays at the table until done, sits up (doesn’t drape over the table), chews with mouth closed, and  doesn’t talk with mouth full.”
Now, with these expectations, what can a parent do?  Emily Post says, “MODEL, MODEL, MODEL, REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT, be patient, have meals together as a family (good for family and a great opportunity for kids to learn and practice table manners), encourage good posture at the table, pick the three most important table rules or guidelines and focus on those, practice at home for meals away from home, MODEL, MODEL, MODEL, and REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT.”

If this doesn’t sound like your family, you have about two weeks to help them with a few basic things.  Choose what’s most important – maybe your young child doesn’t use table utensils.  You may not have a four year old who can eat at Emily Post’s table, but it’s a start.
Litchfield Library has many books about manners and children, and here are a few that might help get you through the holidays.   Monster Knows Table Manners, by Connie Colwell Miller,  Manners Mash-up: A Goofy Guide to Good Behavior J395.122 MAN,  Manners in Public, by Carrie Finn and   Whoopi's Big Book of Manners, by Whoopi Goldberg.  

If as an adult you need a quick manner fix, try One Minute Manners: Quick Solutions to the Most Awkward Situations You'll Ever Face at Work, by  Ann Marie Sabath.   Join us at Friday Story Hour this month to have some fun learning about ... manners.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Feather your nest this fall

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The weather is getting colder and our opportunities to play and work outside are dwindling.  Maybe it’s time to turn our focus to the inside of our homes.  Our library has some new books on decorating that might inspire you to update your space.

Flea Market Fabulous: Designing Gorgeous Rooms with Vintage Treasures is a brand-new, popular book by Lara Spencer, an anchor on Good Morning America and host of “Flea Market Flip” on HGTV.   Spencer shows readers how to go through the steps of identifying the problems of a room, coming up with a decorating plan, and then finding items at flea markets that can be re-done to create the look. 

Color: The Perfect Shade for Every Room is a new House Beautiful book by Lisa Cregan.  The book is organized into ten chapters, each focusing on one color.  It features over 400 photos that demonstrate how to use various shades in bold and subtle ways for different effects.  I expected the book to be about wall color, but it demonstrates the use of color in furniture and accessories, as well.

Tricia Guild: Decorating with Color is another book to help with color selection.  Guild is a London-based interior designer who works all over the world.  Her style is dramatic and glamorous, with combinations of bold patterns.  This book explains her framework of five color families and shows how she combines colors and patterns.

Love Where You Live: At Home in the Country is an interior decorating book by Joan Osofsky and Abby Adams.  Osofsky owns a well-known “lifestyle store” in upstate New York, and she is known for a modern country style.  If you like a cozy but sophisticated country look, this book may give you some inspiration.

How to Hang a Picture: And Other Essential Lessons for the Stylish Home is a guidebook for hanging, framing, and displaying art.  Jason Sacher and Suzanne LaGasa lay out simple, practical rules for making your photos and prints look classy in your home.  They even explain how to avoid ruining your walls depending on what they’re made of: drywall, plaster, brick, and so forth.

 A Beautiful Mess Happy Handmade Home: A Room-by-Room Guide to Painting, Crafting, and Decorating a Cheerful, More Inspiring Space is a long title that tells you almost everything you need to know about the book.  Authors Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman are sisters who have a home decorating blog called “A Beautiful Mess”.  They also have a bestselling app for photos with the same name.  Reviews for the book have been mixed, even from those who enjoy their blog.  Some find it fun and inspiring, while others think the directions for projects are lacking and the results strange or not durable.  One great thing about checking a book out from the library is that you can read it and decide if it’s something you’d like to buy to actually use for projects in your own home. 

In addition to books, our library subscribes to magazines that you can use for home d├ęcor inspiration.  Country Living, House Beautiful, Midwest Living, Real Simple, and Martha Stewart Living are all available in our magazine area.  You can even check out issues to bring home and read at your leisure. 

If your home is ready for a makeover this fall, stop in to the library for some books that can help you find your style.  As Jane Austen said, “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”