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 28, 2015

Borrowing for book club

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Book clubs are very popular in our community.  Our library has two book clubs for adults and two for kids.  The Grove City library has a book club for adults, and so does the Dassel library.  All are well-attended.  Besides the library-run book clubs, we see many members of other book clubs from the area in the library ordering and picking up copies of their books.

We sometimes see our customers getting frustrated when their book club chooses a very popular new book.  When everyone is reading something because it’s new and there’s considerable media coverage about it, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get enough copies from the library for a book club within the month you need it.  There’s just too much demand from the general public, even when we have many copies. 

For example, if you tried to do Go Set a Watchman for your book club right now, you’d be unlikely to get copies for everyone soon enough.    Our library system has 29 copies of the print book and six audiobooks, with more on order.  But there are 35 people on the waiting list. 

My advice is to wait until the interest subsides about a new book (or a book that’s been turned into a movie) before you choose it for your book club, unless your members are willing to buy their copies.   I’ve learned from leading a book club that it works best to choose books that are a year or more old but that were popular when they came out so that the library has many copies.  Small book clubs do have more options.

One good option for book clubs is a book club kit.  Our library system offers a rotating selection of these that are shared with Plum Creek library system, plus a few that stay in our catalog all the time.  If you search “book club in a bag” as a title in our catalog, you’ll bring up the list of choices.  Many of these kits include a dozen copies of the book, and often one is in large print or audiobook format.  Many also include a discussion guide. 

With a book club kit, one person from the book club would have to order and check out the kit and then distribute the copies to the members of the club – and get them all back again.  So you’d want a reliable group of book club members to trust with copies checked out on your own card!  But it is a way to get it all done with one order, as long as your book club doesn’t have too many members. An advantage is that you’re only competing with other book clubs to get those kits, not with individual readers.

When ordering individual copies of books for a book club, keep in mind that the person who orders the books is the one who has to check them out.  If one person orders all of the books for your book club, then she is the person who has to come in with her card to check them all out, she has to get them to the members, and she is responsible if the books are late or don’t come back.  We can’t check a book out to someone when it’s on hold on another individual’s library card.  If each person in the book club orders his own copy, then that person can come in and pick it up, and he controls when the book is returned.  It generally works better that way, unless you’re a person who doesn’t mind nagging your book club members to return their books!

The adult book club I lead for the library meets at noon on the second Tuesday of each month.  Everyone is welcome, whether they attend regularly or not. For our September 8th meeting, we’re reading Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer.  Julie will be visiting our library on Saturday, September 26, at 1 p.m.  It’s another great opportunity to talk about books!

Friday, August 21, 2015

What's In A Name?

By Jan Pease

Why do we name our children the names we give them?  We name our children names we like, or family names, or names that don’t make unfortunate nicknames.  

 How do writers name characters?   Elle Cosimano has written two books about a character with a memorable name, Nearly; she explains the name on her website,  “Nearly Gone” and “Nearly Found”  tell about the life of a teen who tries to stay “under the radar,” because there are so many things in her life that would make her a target for bullies.  Nearly has an unusual name, her mom works as a stripper, her dad has vanished, and  they live in a trailer park in Washington D.C.   There is a touch of the paranormal in the books, because Nearly has a gift for “tasting” the emotions of a person she touches.  These thrillers begin slowly and build in suspense.  Reviews were lukewarm for “Nearly Found,” but readers at gave it five stars and the second book is loved by readers who were fans of the first book.

Two recent books look at eating disorders from an unusual perspective, that of young men who are  struggling with their weight.  “Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have,”  by Allen Zadoff, has been around for a while, but I missed it when it was published in 2011.  This is the story of a boy who weighs just over 300 pounds and obviously doesn’t fit in.  His journey to self-awareness and self-acceptance may seem a bit too easy, since our hero will probably have a life-long struggle with weight issues.  But I think this is an important look at an issue that just isn’t discussed.  There is some locker room language in this one, especially since our hero joins the football team.

Locker room language abounds in “Biggie,” by Derek Sullivan.  The hero is really not very likeable, and the other characters are not terribly sympathetic, but somehow it works.   But this is another look at the difficulties faced by a very overweight teenaged boy.   This time the sport that helps him come to terms is baseball.

Victoria Schwab has written two books that feel like the beginning of a series. They are “The Archived” and “The Unbound,” and our copies have arrived.  In these novels, copies of people’s lives are kept in an archive, like books.  They are maintained by librarians, but now and then the histories become restless and try to escape.  The librarians then must dispatch Keepers to hunt and capture the crazed histories.  I’m so glad my job involves real books and not ghosties.  "The Unbound" is the second book, and sounds like a page-turner.

Nimona,” by Noelle Stephenson, is a new graphic novel based on Stephenson’s web comic.  The comic is no longer available online, because now the entire story is available in book form.  Nimona is a shape shifter who constantly causes trouble. The character descriptions at are hilarious and make me want to check out the book.

Finally, Rick Atkinson has adapted his book, “The Guns at Last Light,” for younger readers in “The Battle of the Bulge.”     Some reviewers thought the book would be too difficult for its audience of 8-12 year olds, but I know that we have some incredible readers who tackle books if they are interested in the subject, and many young people are fascinated by the history of warfare.  “The Battle of the Bulge” might help adults make sense of Hitler’s final attempt to break the Allied Forces.  Great books are waiting for you at your public library.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thank you, summer reading donors!

Thank you to the following local organizations and businesses for their donations for our summer reading program:
Friends of the Litchfield Public Library
Pizza Hut
Pizza Ranch
Jimmy’s Pizza
Burger King
Litchfield DQ
We couldn’t have done it without your support. Thank you for supporting kids and reading in Litchfield!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Library closed Saturday, August 29

The Litchfield Library will be closed all day on Saturday, August 29, for carpet cleaning.  We apologize for the inconvenience and look forward to offering you a cleaner library space.

Items returned in our book drop that day will be checked in as though they were returned on Friday, August 28.

Other Pioneerland libraries with Saturday hours, such as Hutchinson and Dassel, will be open that day.

Wi-Fi will be available in the parking lot as always.

Friday, August 14, 2015

From Page to Screen: Movies Based on Books This Fall

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Books made into movies always stir up a lot of interest.  It’s amazing how much more a book will get checked out when it’s adapted into a movie.  This fall there will be a number of movies and a new television show or two based on books.  Get a start now to read the book before the movie you want to see hits theaters.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail is Bill Bryson’s popular book from the 1990s about his attempt to hike the trail.   Written with self-deprecating humor, this is supposed to be different than introspective travel memoirs like Wild; Bryson decided to hike the trail because it was there, with a companion even less prepared than he was.  The movie, A Walk in the Woods, stars Robert Redford and Nick Nolte and is coming out on September 2. 

Unlikely Angel: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Hostage Hero is available in the Litchfield library on CD and in other libraries in print.  Ashley Smith tells her story of being held hostage in her apartment by Brian Nichols, who had just killed several people while escaping from a courthouse.  The movie adaptation is called Captive and will be released September 18, starring Kate Mara and David Oyelowo.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is the movie adaptation of the second book in the Maze Runner trilogy. In The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, the teens have another challenge to face: crossing 100 miles of desert while being attacked by zombies in order to reach a cure for the disease that will turn them into zombies, too.  This dystopian thriller will arrive in theaters September 18. 

I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban is a bestselling book that came out in 2013.  Malala Yousafzai began fighting for girls’ rights to education when she was eleven.  At age fifteen, she was shot in the head on her bus ride home from school in an attempt to silence her.  In 2014 she became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her continued role as a spokesperson for educating girls.  The documentary He Named Me Malala will be released October 2. 

The Martian by Andy Weir is a novel from 2014 that got great reviews.  In it, an astronaut is left behind on Mars when his crew evacuates the planet because of a dust storm.  No one even knows he’s alive, but he doesn’t give up.  A futuristic take on a castaway story, the movie starring Matt Damon opens October 2. 

The 2011 biography Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson also was praised by critics.  Now the movie by the same title is coming out on October 9.  Michael Fassbender plays Jobs, with Kate Winslet playing Joanna Hoffman and Seth Rogan playing Steve Wozniak. 

Also debuting this fall are The Last Kingdom, the BBC TV series based on Bernard Cornwell’s Warrior Chronicles series; Room, the movie adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel of the same name; and The 33, based on Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar. 

Get ahead of the rush now by ordering any of these books on our online catalog or speaking with a library staff member to request a copy.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Could It Be Magic?

 By Jan Pease

At the very beginning of the summer Professor Marvel came to perform at the libraries in Litchfield, Dassel, and Grove City.  His performance in Litchfield was enjoyed by about 140 children plus their parents in a very packed library space.  The performances were also very well attended in Dassel and Grove City.  He always encourages the young people in the audience to read about whatever is interesting to them, including books about how to perform magic.  The libraries used money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Fund to provide this wonderful experience.   When libraries make use of this fund, a small percentage of the budget can be used to add books to the library collections.  We were able to add books on magic to the juvenile collections at Litchfield, Dassel, and Grove City.  These colorful and interesting books are now available.

“My First Guide to Magic Tricks,” by Norm Barnhart and Steve Charney, is exactly what it says,  a book of magic tricks for the very young beginner.  The authors take it seriously and provide these four important rules for young magicians to follow: “never to tell anyone how to do a trick; practice until you can do the trick almost without thinking; try not to do the same trick for the same people; and use patter to keep the audience’s attention.”

We’re also happy to add “Big Magic for Little Hands,” by Joshua Jay to all three collections. This book contains easy to follow instructions, including suggestions for parents.  He also gives some really good advice about what to do if an illusion goes wrong and how to get over stage fright.  He teaches young magicians the “Magician’s Oath” and warns them that somehow the older magicians will find out if they don’t say it out loud!

“Children’s Book of Magic,” by the folks at DK, Dorling Kindersley, is a stunning book that has a rabbit hologram on the cover.  This book is packed with information about the history of magic, magicians, and illusions.  It may lack the personal touch of Joshua Jay’s volume, but it really is an amazing collection of information. 

Many years ago we hired a young man to come to the library and perform a magic show for children.  He was already a polished showman and had been doing table magic at a local restaurant.  I think he gave us a deal.  Even though he was already being paid as a professional, he only charged the library 50 dollars.  His name is Dan Sperry, and he has gone on to well-deserved fame. Dan did a performance in St. Cloud, Minnesota on August 8th, and has now headed to New York for 6 performances at The Box, all at 1:00 a.m. Yes, that’s the 1:00 just after midnight.   Then Dan will tour with The Illusionists around the United States through the end of the year.  When they are in New York, at the Neil Simon Theater, tickets run from $49-$132. 

                        Dreams do come true, and they can begin with a book from the library.