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.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The end of an era

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Downton Abbey fans, can you believe the series is almost over?  The high-class BBC soap opera is just about to begin its sixth and final season.  Every year when a new season begins, I  see people discover it for the first time and come to the library to check out the previous seasons.  Our library has seasons one through five on DVD and will be getting season six when it’s released later in the month. 

For those who would like some more background on the show, we have the DVD The Manners of Downton Abbey, a PBS documentary on the customs of the British aristocracy in the early twentieth century.  We also have two books:  The World of Downton Abbey and The Chronicles of Downton Abbey, which give details about the characters as well as the time and place.  These books came out after the first and second seasons, and they have gorgeous photos. 

For the true stories that inspired the show, read Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle and Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid’s Memoir That Inspired ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ and ‘Downton Abbey’.  Lady Almina was written by the Countess of Carnarvon, the current lady of the house where Downton Abbey is filmed.  Lady Almina was an inspiration for the character Cora in the TV series, the daughter of an industrialist whose dowry saved the ancestral home and who opened the house to wounded soldiers during World War I. 

Below Stairs is a memoir written by Margaret Powell, who worked as a kitchen maid in a great house in 1920s England.  Downton creator Julian Fellowes credits the book, published in 1968, for introducing him to the world of the servants who worked hard from dawn to well after dark to maintain the perfect world of the upper class.  Powell also wrote Servants’ Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance.  This sequel tells the story of an under-parlormaid who eloped with the aristocratic family’s only son.

Many novels also cover this territory of titled, wealthy people in England in the Edwardian era.  The Love & Inheritance trilogy by Fay Weldon fits that mold.  The first book is Habits of the House, followed by Long Live the King and The New Countess.  Weldon wrote the pilot for the original Upstairs, Downstairs television series.  The series begins with the story of a family who must arrange a marriage for their son to a wealthy American socialite in order to save their estate.  There’s an orphaned niece, King Edward’s coronation, heirs to be produced and properly raised, the threat of a scandalous book by a family member, and all sorts of witty, frivolous goings-on. 

For a classic novel about Lady Cora’s situation in life, we have Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers. This was Wharton’s last novel, left unfinished at the time of her death and completed according to her plans by another author.  The novel tells the story of several new-money American girls who go to England in search of titled husbands, who need the girls’ money to support family estates.  Litchfield Library also has the BBC miniseries.

A few other good choices for staying in the Downton spirit: Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks; The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin; and The Last Summer by Judith Klinghorn.

All good things must end, and it seems better to me that Downton end now on a good note than descend into more and more preposterous storylines.  Enjoy the ending, my fellow fans!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Worldwide Cyber Domination??

By Jan Pease

I read in the Star Tribune that one of the presidential hopefuls thinks that the Internet should and could be shut down.  I don’t think this is a good idea, doubt if it could be done, and wonder if it’s even legal.  But this led me to the thought of worldwide cyber domination.  I’ve never typed that before!  James Dashner, the author of “The Maze Runner” series and “The 13th Reality” series, has released the conclusion to “The Mortality Doctrine” series, “The Game of Lives.”  This series explores the world of virtual reality games, which sometimes seem more real to the gamers than their real lives.  In this series, the difference between reality and virtual reality has become blurred and the virtual reality world is now dangerous.  If the villain succeeds, he will indeed achieve worldwide cyber domination.   Reviewers compare this book to the movies “The Matrix” and “Inception.” 

In 1863, Charles Kingsley wrote “The Water Babies,” a very odd little book about children who evolve into tiny undersea creatures that share a magical world of fairies, insects, and water nymphs.   Reverend Kingsley was a friend of Charles Darwin and supported Darwin’s ideas in his writing.  He also was very concerned about the necessity of adequate shelter and clean water, and the abuse of children made him furious.   The new version we purchased is a reprint from an abridged version from 1915, and the illustrations were made by Mabel Lucie Attwell.  Like “Alice in Wonderland,” this children’s classic deserves to be read by a new generation.

Andy Griffith was an actor known for playing congenial roles, but when he played a villain, he seemed especially deadly.  Eve Bunting is famous for her wonderful picture books, but when she writes a ghost story it’s a doozy.  “Forbidden” is great historical fiction, set in an area infamous for shipwrecks that never had survivors.  The ghost story is believable with just the right touch of forbidden love.  I would like to sit in a cozy chair and read this while the wind howls outside. 

“5-Minute Fancy Nancy Stories” by Jane O'Connor, is a different kind of cozy read.  Twelve stories about Fancy Nancy are included in this perfect-for-bedtime storybook.  Each story can be read aloud in about five minutes, although it wouldn’t surprise me if Nancy’s fans would demand an hour’s worth.   The book even includes a list of fancy words that are used in the book. 

The arrival of a new baby is a huge event in children’s lives.  My philosophy is that you can’t have too many books about bringing that new baby home.  “I Love You, Baby,” by Giles Andreas, is a sunny, joyful look at   family life. Sibling rivalry doesn’t show up in this one. 

Have a joyful new year!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Family movies for Christmas vacation

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Merry Christmas!  First things first: when is the library open during these coming weeks of holidays?  The library will be closed on December 24th and 25th. We will be open on Saturday, December 26th.  Next week, we will be open normal hours Monday through Wednesday.  On Thursday, December 31st, the library will close at 5 p.m. for New Year’s Eve instead of the usual 8 p.m.  We will be closed on New Year’s Day but will be open on Saturday, January 2nd.

Next question: what can you check out to watch with the family during Christmas vacation?  I have some ideas from among some of our new DVDs at the Litchfield Library.

Disney releases a movie from their “vault” every so often.  The most recent was Aladdin in October.  We didn’t have a copy of that movie at Litchfield, so now we have the new Blu-ray/DVD combo pack.  This funny animated film from 1992 features the voice talents of Robin Williams as the genie.  Aladdin is the kind of movie that can entertain the whole family, both kids and adults. 

Another movie for all ages is Inside Out, the new animated movie from Disney and Pixar.  Pixar is known for playing with the viewer’s emotions, and this time around emotions are the actual stars of the show.  Eleven-year-old Riley has a difficult time moving from Minnesota to California, and we get to see what goes on in her head.  The characters Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust run headquarters, driving Riley’s thoughts and feelings and storing her memories.  When Riley’s core memories get colored by Sadness, the characters have to find a way to save the day.

If you want a trip down memory lane, you can check out Little House on the Prairie.  Remastered DVDs of the show have been released over the last couple of years, and we have seasons one through seven.  The final season will be re-released early next year.  I have to say that when I read descriptions of the episodes recently, I found they’re even more melodramatic than I remember. 

Tomorrowland is a new Disney live-action movie named after a Disney Parks attraction, like Pirates of the Caribbean.  This movie is a sci-fi adventure about a jaded inventor and an enthusiastic, science-loving teenage girl who need to work together to discover the secrets of a mysterious place called "Tomorrowland" to help make our world a better place.  George Clooney stars.  While this movie didn’t get the glowing reviews Inside Out did, it is supposed to be reasonably entertaining for young and old.

Shaun the Sheep Movie, on the other hand, is a favorite of movie critics.  Shaun the Sheep is a stop-motion British television show that is a spin-off of Wallace & Grommit.  In the movie, Shaun takes a day off and ends up in the Big City with the whole crew from the farm, and it’s up to him to find a way to bring everyone safely home again.  Although it’s intended to be a children’s show, the humor also appeals to adults. 

Fitting right into this week is the Christmas special The Toy Story That Time Forgot.  This 2014 TV program shows Buzz, Woody, and the gang at an after-Christmas playdate with Bonnie from Toy Story 3.  Tom Hanks and Tim Allen provide the voice talent, as usual. 

These DVDs are all new and popular, so you may want to reserve them instead of taking your chances that they’ll be on the shelf.  We will get only two deliveries a week during these holiday weeks, so things will also take a little longer to arrive.  Let our staff know anytime you need help requesting something.  Enjoy your holidays and have a happy new year!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

When is the library open over the holidays?

Holiday schedule

Thursday, December 24: Closed
Friday, December 25: Closed
Saturday, December 26: Open

Monday - Wednesday, December 28-30: Open normal hours
Thursday, December 31: Closing at 5 p.m.
Friday, January 1: Closed
Saturday, January 2: Open

Friday, December 11, 2015

Let It GO!

By Jan Pease

Lately I’ve been a bit annoying when friends declare how stressed they are feeling.   I open my arms wide and sing, “Let it go!  Let it go!” This is from the movie “Frozen,” words and music by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.  It is so simple and yet profound.   Of course, turnabout is fair play, and a family member reminded me this week to “Let it Go!” when I was harboring some hurt feelings. It’s good advice. 

This made me think about other profound thoughts found in children’s literature.  Knowing this was probably not an original idea, I poked around on the Internet and found other lists of quotations from children’s books.  It would seem that many of us have read the same books.

 Beginner’s Book Club members loved “The BFG.”  The  Big Friendly Giant says, “The matter with human beans, is that they is absolutely refusing to believe in anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles.”  Roald Dahl, of course, wrote “The BFG” and one could write a book just filled with quotable quotes from his writing.

Christopher Robin says to Winnie the Pooh,   “Promise me you'll always remember:  You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”  This is usually attributed to A.A. Milne, but seems to actually be a quotation from the 1997 Disney movie  “Pooh’s Grand Adventure: the Search for Christopher Robin.”  It is still wonderful advice, especially for someone who is starting a new adventure.

In “The Cat in the Hat,” Dr. Seuss tells us, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”   Another entire book could be written full of the wisdom of Dr. Seuss.
This one reminds me of my husband, Dave. In “Charlotte's Web,” by   E.B. White, Charlotte the spider tells Wilbur, who is very worried, “Never hurry and never worry!”  Dave never worries, and he is never in a hurry. 

 Madeleine L’Engle wrote “A Wrinkle in Time,” again, another writer with deep ideas hidden in children’s stories.  She said, “Believing takes practice.”  How do you practice belief?

There is a wonderful book by Giles Andrea, “Giraffes Can’t Dance.”  Gerald the Giraffe is tall and slim, with long skinny legs, and he wants desperately to dance.  Mr. Andrea says, “We can all dance when we find music that we love.”  I firmly believe that he has something there.

And finally, “Remember, broken crayons still color.”   This saying turns up here and there, but I saw it in action when a tiny child held up a crayon and said, “Broken.”  I answered, “but it still colors.” A sad face broke into a smile.

That old crayon can also be made new.  One of my projects during our break from story hour is to melt our old, broken crayons into new shiny ones.  We’ll see if this works when Story Hour begins again January 9th at 10, when the Reading Therapy dogs will come for a visit at Second Saturday Story Time.  It’s almost time for a new year!  I can’t wait to see what it will bring.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Hygge: A way to feel better about winter

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

I keep seeing articles about trying to enjoy the winter instead of dreading it.  I have to admit I hate cold and dark, so finding ways to feel better during this time of year sounds like a great idea.  Many of these writings refer to the ways that Scandinavian countries embrace the season. The Danish word hygge loosely translates as “coziness,” but it’s one of those words that doesn’t really have an English equivalent, because togetherness and well-being are part of it as well.  It is associated with things like candles, fireplaces, hot beverages, blankets, friends, family, and food.  The Norwegians call it “koselig,” and they reportedly embrace the good things that come with winter instead of suffering through it.  I wonder if they have to drive on slippery roads as much as we do?  I should ask the people I know who used to live in Norway…

So what kind of hygge can the library offer you?  Well, the library itself is a pretty cozy place, especially now that the lighted Christmas trees are up.  To really add the social element, you could come to a book club. Talking about books with friendly, interesting people can give you a warm feeling of togetherness.  Our next book for Adult Book Club is A Christmas Blizzard by Garrision Keillor.  The title doesn’t sound warm and cozy, but it’s supposed to be heartwarming in the end.  The next meeting is on January 12th at noon.  Multiple copies are on hand at our front desk to check out.

The Mystery Book Club is reading Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke.  The murder part is not so snug and safe, but Fluke’s novels are considered cozy mysteries, which means the violence is downplayed, and the detective work happens in a small community.  This book club meets on the third Wednesday of the month, which will be December 16.

We normally offer a Fiber Arts Club on the fourth Thursday of the month at 4 p.m., but since that day will fall on Christmas Eve in December, you’ll have to wait until January to attend.  This group is a very informal way to gather with other people who are knitting, crocheting, or doing other handwork. 

If you’re looking for some recipes for comfort food, we have some new cookbooks that fit the bill: Brunch @ Bobby’s by Bobby Flay, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime by Ree Drummond, and Sweets & Treats with Six Sisters’ Stuff.  

To get some ideas for making your home more cozy, we have a couple of new decorating/design books on the way: Country Living American Style and Cabin Porn: Inspiration for Your Quiet Place Somewhere.  Don’t be alarmed by the title of the second book; it’s just a collection of photographs of cabins in beautiful places that inspire fantasies of moving to the woods. 

Of course, just curling up with a book or a movie can make for a cozy evening (or day) anytime, as long as it’s something you enjoy.  Some of our very newest books include House of the Rising Sun by James Lee Burke, Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason, and Texas Hills by Ralph Compton.  Our latest DVDs include Jerusalem from National Geographic, Dope, and Bears from the Disneynature series. 

This winter, I’m going to look for opportunities for hygge.  I hope the library can help boost your well-being, togetherness, and coziness this season.