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, September 25, 2015

The new golden age of television

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Many people say we’re in a new golden age of television.  While this era is characterized by darker adult themes instead of the chipper, family-friendly offerings of the original golden age of the ‘50s, the quality of the writing, acting, and production values are very high.  This new burst of creativity is partly due to the wide variety of ways television shows are distributed.  Beyond broadcast and cable, there’s Netflix, Amazon, other streaming services, web-based series, and DVDs.  Television shows can now appeal to just a segment of the population and still be successful, because there are so many outlets. 

Because people can often watch at a time they choose, people tend to treat TV series like novels now.  If you’re dying of suspense because of how an episode ends, you can keep going, if you’re watching on DVD or a streaming service.  We call it “binge-watching,” but is it really different than not being able to put a book down, chapter after chapter? 

Our library offers many television shows on DVD, something that is especially valued by our rural residents who can’t get cable, high-speed internet, or sometimes even a strong broadcast television signal.  Besides, subscribing to every available television service would be awfully expensive.

One TV miniseries available at our library is HBO’s Olive Kitteridge, which is based on Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name.  The book is really a collection of related short stories about a small town in Maine, tied together by retired teacher Olive.  My book club at the library read this within the last couple of years and found plenty to talk about in this quietly profound book.

In the miniseries, Olive is played by Frances McDormand.  She just won the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie.  Her co-stars Richard Jenkins and Bill Murray also won Emmys for lead actor and supporting actor, respectively, and the show won the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries, as well as the awards for directing and writing. 

The Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series went to HBO’s Game of Thrones. This fantasy series is based on George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire.  Peter Dinklage won the supporting actor Emmy for playing Tyrion Lannister, and the show won the awards for writing and directing, among many others.  Unfortunately, the season that just won the awards won’t be available on DVD until March!  The library does have seasons one through four.

The release date for season four of Veep on DVD has not even been announced yet. Our library does have seasons one through three.  The fourth season just won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, yet another win for HBO.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the lead actress Emmy for playing President Selina Meyer, Tony Hale won the supporting actor Emmy, and the show won the award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.

Uzo Aduba won her second Emmy for playing Crazy Eyes on Orange is the New Black, a Netflix original series based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name.  This time the series competed in the dramatic series category instead of comedy due to a change in Emmy rules.  The library has seasons one and two, but season three is not yet available on DVD.

The library also has the Emmy-winning TV movie Bessie and nonfiction series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, as well as the documentary Citizenfour, which won an Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. 

As the sun starts going down a little earlier, bring home an interesting series or movie and enjoy the character development and complicated storylines that characterize the best of today’s television.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What! James Patterson Writes Children's Books?

By Jan Pease

When I think about author Richard Paul Evans, I think of books such as “The Walk,” or “Miles to Go,” or“The Christmas Box.”  However, he also writes a young adult series in a very different genre. “ Michael Vey: Storm of Lightning” is the fifth in a series of  books about a boy with amazing electrical powers.  These books are very popular, especially with boys who enjoy reading about strong characters who experience lots of action.

When I think about the author James Patterson, series such as the “Alex Cross” novels or “Women’s Murder Club” mysteries come to mind.  He has also published  popular young adult and juvenile books: the “Maximum Ride” series, “Witch and Wizard” series, the “Middle School” series,  The “I Funny” series, and others.  I really don’t know how he does it.  He has also introduced a series about a treasure-hunting family, the Kidds, who have incredible adventures.  The books in the series are “Treasure Hunters,”  “Treasure Hunters: Danger Down the Nile,”  and “Treasure Hunters: Secret of the Forbidden City.”  They are highly illustrated in black and white, full of silly jokes and plot twists.  This is a fun one!

When I think about the Bible, I think about, well, the Bible, the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.  We just received a most interesting version, “The Unofficial Holy Bible for Minecrafters.”     I have never played “Minecraft,” a video game that is popular world-wide, but I’ve seen young gamers fascinated by it.   "The Unofficial Holy Bible for Minecrafters" is a respectful re-telling of well-known Bible stories with illustrations straight from the world of “Minecraft.”  I wasn’t sure we needed this, but we have it and I think fans of “Minecraft” will love it. 

 Finally, I don’t know what to say about a series of graphic novels I added to the library collection because of a request from a young person.    I didn’t look into “Lucky Luke” very thoroughly, not a good idea.  The books present a funny look at the Wild West in the USA as envisioned by the     cartoonist, Maurice De Bevere, better known as Morris.  Morris worked with Harvey Kurtzman, Jack Davis, and Wally Wood, all of “Mad Magazine.”  “Mad Magazine” has been an equal opportunity offender since 1952, so it might be expected that the series is part tribute to the mythic American west, part parody, and full of western stereotypes.  The “Lucky Luke” series is a Belgian comic book originally written in French, later translated into English and published in Great Britain.  Lucky Luke is “the man who shoots faster than his own shadow.”       

Here is my problem with “western” stereotypes.  I’ve been weeding the collection to get rid of books that give an inaccurate view of Native Americans, not in an effort to be “politically correct,” but in an effort to bring the collection up-to-date and to portray other cultures fairly.  The “Lucky Luke” comics bring the 1970’s stereotypes roaring back!  However, somehow I’m not as offended when he takes on the French Canadians in “The Beautiful Province.”  So much for fairness.

Get hooked on a series.  You’ll be glad you did.

Friday, September 11, 2015

This fall's harvest of books

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Now that it’s fall, you might be looking for a good book to curl up with as the days get cooler.  I looked through some of the lists of the most anticipated books of this fall, and there are several that are mentioned over and over.  Your friends might be talking about these books in the coming months.

Purity by Jonathan Franzen was released September 1.  It’s on the bestseller lists, but it has gotten mixed reviews.  Some reviewers think it’s meandering and magnificent, while others think it’s meandering and monotonous.  Purity, or Pip, is a college debt-saddled young woman with a troubled mother who goes to work for a Wikileaks-type organization in an attempt to find out who her father is.  Franzen is considered one of the most important American novelists, though not without some controversy.

In The Art of Memoir, Syracuse professor Mary Karr presents what the New York Times Book Review is calling a “master class” in the form.  Karr’s best-seller The Liar’s Club brought about a revival of the memoir form in 1995.  She also had bestsellers with Cherry and Lit. Her student Cheryl Strayed wrote the more recent memoir phenomenon, Wild.  With examples from her own life and her favorite memoirs, Karr presents an entertaining and insightful guide to writing as a way to make sense of one’s own experiences.  This book will be published on September 15.

John Grisham has a new novel coming out October 20.  Rogue Lawyer features a very colorful attorney whose office is a swanky bulletproof van driven by a heavily armed bodyguard/law clerk/golf caddie.  He defends clients other lawyers won’t take, and he is willing to break the rules to get anyone a fair trial.  Sounds like an attorney’s escapist fantasy to me.  Grisham’s books are always bestsellers.

Robert Galbraith had hits with the first two Cormoran Strike novels, The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm.  The third, Career of Evil, will be released October 20.  Galbraith is better known as J.K. Rowling.  My adult book club at the library loved the first book in the series and some of them are eagerly awaiting the third.  These are mysteries that feature private eye Strike and his assistant Robin.

Humorist Mindy Kaling has a follow-up to her bestseller Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  Her new book Why Not Me? will come out on September 15.  Kaling is the creator and star of the TV show The Mindy Project.  Her new book is a collection of funny personal essays about life in Hollywood.

Finally, Lisbeth Salander is back, even though Stieg Larsson died.  The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a continuation of the Millennium series, now written by David Lagercrantz.  Swedish, British, and American reviewers are saying that the new author did a seamless job of picking up the characters, and he may have written them even better than Larsson himself did.  This book came out September 1.

If the cooler days inspire you to pick up a good book, place an order for one of these or stop in to browse other new books we have on hand. The pickings are always good at the library.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Mark Your Calendars!

By Jan Pease

This is the week that we begin the fall schedule at Litchfield Library.  I’m excited to announce these programs.     We may add some new things to the schedule in the weeks to follow.  Here is a rough draft of the schedule.
On the second Monday of each month, from 3:15 – 5, Mariah will enjoy leading the Book to Movie Club.  This begins September 14, with Pinocchio.  Read any version of the book, watch a movie, and have a short discussion.  (Because of licensing restrictions, we are unable to share the movie title)  (You can probably guess what movie they are watching!)

On Wednesdays, Jan will have fun with Toddler Time, a very simple story time for babies and toddlers through age 2.  We sing, dance, and share one easy book.  It begins at 10:15, and depending on the children, lasts one half hour.  This is an introduction to participating in a group. 

On second and fourth Thursdays, Jan invites kids who like to build with Legos to come at 6:30 for Brickheads.  This great activity is for young people ages 4-14.  Older Brickheads are welcome.  Dates in September are the 10th and 24th. October dates are 8th and 22nd.  In November we will meet only on November 12th, because of Thanksgiving, and in December we will meet only on the 10th, because of Christmas Eve.

On the third Thursdays of each month Jan invites students in grades 1-3   to join Beginner Book Club.  Our first book is “Alvin Ho, Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things.”  This is a very funny book which might be a little difficult for first graders.  Just read it with your child. 

Every Friday children ages 3-5 are invited to Story Time at 10:00.  We sing, move around, read a book or two, and work on a simple craft.   Older and younger children are always welcome.    (Jan really likes presenting this story hour.)

On the second Saturdays of each month, anyone who enjoys story time is invited to come to  Second Saturday Story Time from 10-11.   This is similar to the Friday Story Time, but sometimes unusual things happen on Saturdays.  For example, on Saturday, October 10th reading dogs will visit the library.  If you would like to meet some wonderful dogs, and practice reading with them, come from 10-11.  Fun!

On second and fifth Saturdays from 1:30 until about 3 p.m. teens are invited to Teen Inventors Mashup,    hands on projects that involve inventing, making, creating, and eating a snack. 

David LaRochelle , an outstanding children’s author, will visit our library on Saturday, October 3, at 10:00 a.m.  I love his books, but “Moo!” is one of my favorites.

Santa and I have been emailing each other, and he promises to come to our library on December 3 from 4-8.  He will read a story at 6:30 that evening.  Story Time with Santa has become one of the most popular events at Litchfield library.   The opportunity to take pictures with Santa has been expanded to begin at 4 so families with very young children take advantage of this great photo opportunity.