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, July 29, 2016

Cool movies for hot days

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

If the hot weather is sapping your energy, check out some of Litchfield Library’s new DVDs for some entertainment while you take it easy.  Some of the ones I’ll tell you about are new releases, and some are just new to our library’s collection.

This summer has brought Independence Day: Resurgence and a reboot of Ghostbusters to theaters.  We have recently gotten the original Ghostbusters and Independence Day on DVD at our library.  Rotten Tomatoes is a website that pulls together published reviews from many, many critics and gives movies a rating based on the percentage of positive reviews.  The original Independence Day from 1996 has about a 60% positive rating, while the new sequel is at only about 30%. I thoroughly enjoyed Independence Day back when it was in the theaters, but when I watched it again with my kids recently, it didn’t seem as wonderful.  My girls saw it as an inferior variation on the Star Wars story, an opinion I can agree with.  I haven’t watched the new one.

The original Ghostbusters from 1984 has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97%, which is impressive. Based on a viewing at my house, I suspect kids today don’t see it as positively as we did back in the ‘80s.  However, adult fans still enjoy it.  The new version in theaters has about a 70% positive rating.  I’m looking forward to watching it at some point, and the library will get it once it’s on DVD.

The new movie Race has about a 60% positive rating from Rotten Tomatoes.  It tells the story of Jesse Owens’ path to the Olympics in Nazi Germany and his record-breaking accomplishments there.  I wanted to watch it especially because of the character Rudy’s enthusiasm for Jesse Owens in the novel The Book Thief.  I really didn’t know enough about Owens, and I enjoyed learning his story through an inspiring movie.  Some of the movie’s subplots are fairly weak, but the main storyline is interesting, and Stephan James is good as Owens. It’s a straightforward historical biography, and many people enjoy those, as I do.

The library now has all of the seasons of the television comedy Parks and Recreation.  The creator and star Amy Poehler won a Golden Globe for her performance on the show, and the series has been nominated for Emmys many times.  I wondered what all of the fuss was about, so my husband and I started watching it recently. It is wacky, but once we got used to the humor we’ve enjoyed it.  I’d read that the first season isn’t the best but it’s short, so stick with it; I think that’s a good assessment.  Nick Offerman and Chris Pratt are especially funny as part of a group involved with city government. 

I’ve been hearing good things about Zootopia, the new animated Disney movie.  Rotten Tomatoes agrees with what I’ve heard; the approval rating is a whopping 98%.  The movie is a mystery featuring a rabbit who’s a rookie cop and a fox who’s a con artist; they dress and act like humans.  Reviewers say it appeals to kids and adults on different levels, with smart writing and a good message about being who you want to be, not what others expect you to be. 

Some of our other new DVDs include 10 Cloverfield Lane, 45 Years, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Eddie the Eagle, Hail,Caesar!, and Hello, My Name is Doris.  If there’s a movie or television series you’re looking for that we don’t have, most of the time we can order it from somewhere in Minnesota.  Let us know if you need some help.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

What is and What Will Be

By Jan Pease

July 2016 has been a memorable month.  First, thanks again and again to the Watercade Board for the opportunity to be Grand Marshall in the Watercade Parade.  I’m still smiling from ear to ear. My arm got tired from waving, but this experience was worth it.  In my “few words” at the Queen Coronation I told the true story of the boy at story hour who told his great aunt that he didn’t think all this queen and princess stuff was real, but JAN knows that they are the real thing.   Love that boy.  He always calls me Jan and always gives it two syllables.

The fun  of Watercade  was followed by the “  ‘nado” that young  children are still talking about.  Please take a little time to reassure little ones and let them talk about what they experienced.  I asked the little boy who told me about the “ ‘nado” if they went down in their basement.  His big brother said they went in Grandma’s basement and it was gross. I just had to smile.  Poor grandma was sitting right there!  I told them to remember to look for the helpers and remember that they were safe.  I’m so proud that people hurried to help friends and neighbors as soon as the storm had passed.

Summer reading is going strong.  346 readers have signed up to participate.  We have a month to go, so there is time to sign up your children and have them join the reading game.   Story times will continue until August 13.  On that Saturday, Paul Spring will give a family-friendly concert at 10 a.m. Beginner book club will meet on August 18; the book we’re reading is Because of Winn Dixie.  Brickheads, the Lego building club, will be building every Thursday night without a break through August. 

Attendance at all of our programs has been steady most weeks, and sometimes almost overwhelming.  We have enjoyed having 4-H staff involved with Fun with 4-H on four Wednesdays in June and July. On the other Wednesdays we have alternated making projects in “Maker Fun” and playing board games.  Folks from St. John’s Outdoor University come to provide a program called “Nature’s Olympics,”    and   a really nice group of kids enjoyed the interactive,  hands-on experience. 

Mariah has done an outstanding job with Art Journaling, an activity for students in grades 4-8. The students enjoy the activity, and I would like to spy on their journals.  It’s a little different than the  usual book club, but it might be the start of a hobby that will last a life time. 

Story times will begin again on September 7 with Toddler Time.   September 8 we will have Brickheads.  September 9th is Story Time with a project, and September 10th we will have a visit from the therapy dogs, our “Going to the Dogs Story Time”.  We will have a short story time and then boys and girls who are able to read can sit with a friendly dog and practice reading.    The rest of us will just enjoy talking about the dogs with their owners.   Or just enjoy talking to the dogs.  See you at the library!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Gotta catch 'em all!

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Thomas J. Harrison Pryor Public Library in Oklahoma.
Have you seen the groups of people standing around Litchfield looking at their phones lately?  Chances are they’re playing Pokemon GO.  This new augmented reality game has caught on like wildfire, bringing people out to public places to catch and battle Pokemon, gather virtual supplies, and put on miles of walking. 

In case you haven’t heard about Pokemon from kids who were into it sometime during the past twenty years, Pokemon are “pocket monsters” from a Japanese card game, series of video games, and an animated TV show.  It was created by a man who enjoyed collecting insects as a child, hence the collecting aspect of the game.  Pokemon GO is a brand new game for smart phones that incorporates a phone’s camera and maps in brand new ways.

I’ve learned about Pokemon GO because two of my teenagers are enthusiastically playing it.  Most of the groups I’ve seen around Litchfield, Dassel, and Hutchinson that appear to be playing it together are teenage boys and young men, but people of all ages are joining in.  My elementary-age niece and nephew are playing it, a cousin who is older than me is, too, and I hear that it’s popular among a wide range of ages in the cast of the musical my kids are in. 

Because of my kids, I found out during Watercade that the Litchfield Library is a PokeStop.  This means it’s a place where players can stock up on useful virtual items for playing the game.  Many public and commercial buildings are PokeStops.  It sounds like some stops are especially good, and from what my kids found during two visits to the library, our location seems to be one of those. 

The clock outside in front of the library is a gym, which is a place for Pokemon to battle.  Those are a bit more rare than PokeStops, and they’re usually landmarks of some kind.  I find it very surprising that the game creators had any way to find out the library’s clock existed, but apparently these locations were marked by players of an earlier, unrelated game. 

So if you see people gathered near the clock in front of the library, looking at their phones, don’t be alarmed; they’re probably playing Pokemon.  We are seeing kids coming into the library looking for Pokemon to catch, too, although I don’t know if they’ve found any inside. 

Do be aware that there are privacy concerns with the game.  The game currently gives Niantic, the company that owns it, access to all of their Google account data.  The company has stated this is an error they are working to correct.  Some of the people I know are using a secondary Google account that isn’t connected to their Google Docs or regularly-used email to try to minimize the risk.  I’m not sure if this helps.

It is very important to be aware of your surroundings when playing the game and to be as careful as always when going out in the world.  The news has reported accidents involving people crossing roads and falling down a cliff, as well as a couple of robberies.   And, of course, don’t play Pokemon GO and drive!

The game does have benefits.  One of the tasks it requires is walking multiple kilometers to hatch virtual eggs.  It’s like having a FitBit or other fitness tracker that gives you in-game rewards for meeting goals.  And it’s nice to see young people outside in parks and other places in the community, making the game a social occasion.  You can’t sit on the couch if you want to get very far with this game. 

Life works best when you have a balance of activities, so keep reading even though catching Pokemon is so much fun.  When you’re stopping by to play Pokemon GO, come inside to pick up some real-world items, too: check out some books!  

A New ABC for Everyone

By Jan Pease

Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver continue their series about younger Hank Zipster with Here’s Hank: the Soggy, Foggy Campout. My memories of camping seem to include a lot of rain, but Hank’s campout is an extreme disaster.

 I think I’ve mentioned Dyslexie, the special font used in these books, in an earlier article.  This is such important information to pass on that I’m borrowing freely from the facing page of Here’s Hank.  Christian Boer, who designed the font, is a Dutch graphic designer and is dyslexic.  Sometimes  people with dyslexia have a difficult time distinguishing individual letters, so Mr. Boer added heavier bottoms on b and d, larger than normal openings on c and e, and longer ascenders and descenders on f, h, and p.  The font also has larger spaces between letters and words.  To make the beginning of each sentence stand out, capital letters are all bold.  These simple changes can help all kids read better, not just those who are dyslexic.   Dyslexie is available to download on home computers with a free home license at   I recommend it!

Sometimes a child will have more success at reading with a topic they love.  The library has added a new set of level 2 readers called ASPCA kids Rescue Readers.  They are sweet books with stories about shelter pets.  A note to parents provides tips for successful reading.   You’ll recognize them by the full-color covers with close-up pictures of cuddly critters.  The one I’m looking at right now is titled I Am Picasso, about an adorable dog that paints.  Other titles full of cuteness are I Am Nibbles, I am Daisy, and I Am McKinley.  These titles were all written by Lori C. Froeb.

Little, Brown and Company have an imprint called Jimmy Paterson Books, created by  James Patterson.  The mission is simple: “We want every kid who finishes a JIMMY book to say, ‘Please give me another book.’” James Paterson and Chris Grabenstein have teamed up to write the Treasure Hunters series as well as other best-selling series.  Treasure Hunters books tell the tale of the Kidd children, avid treasure hunters   who found their missing parents in the first three books.  Now, in book four, Treasure Hunters: Peril at the Top of the World, the Kidd family find themselves in the middle of the bleak, cold Russian Arctic trying to find thieves who have stolen valuable treasure.  These are great adventure stories that are fun to read.

It seems to me that it would be easy to play hide and seek with an elephant, but it what if it warns that he is very good at hiding.?  David Barrow wrote and illustrated Have You Seen Elephant?   This funny picture book begins with elephant hiding in more and more outrageous places, and ends with a land tortoise named Zoom inviting our hero to play tag. Zoom warns, “But I’m very good!”  This book is written in cursive, which some children find difficult to read, but I think that having a book engage the imagination is one way to get children to attempt something that’s a little bit difficult. 

These and more great books are waiting for you at Litchfield library!


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Celebrate Watercade with the library!

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The Saturday of Watercade is bringing all kinds of excitement to the Litchfield Library.  The book sale, an art stand, a teen program, and an honor for our children’s librarian are all on deck.

The annual Friends of the Library Watercade book sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 9.  The Friends hold a book sale every month, normally on the third Saturday of the month from 10-2, but in July it’s moved up to coincide with Watercade.  And it’s the big one.  As long as the weather cooperates, the fiction will be outside in front of the library.  The nonfiction will be inside the meeting room, and the cashiers will be in the lobby.  Stop over to get lightly used books for a very low price, including books about outdoor sports, Christianity, and crafts, as well as many other topics.  All proceeds benefit the library!

This year we have a special art event on the Saturday of Watercade, too.  A streetcorner letterpress is going to be on the lawn in front of the library from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  This stand allows people of all ages to print postcards from a variety of papers, images, and colors.  Three 100-year-old letterpresses produce 4x6 postcard-style prints with the push of a lever.  Participants are invited to print their own postcards with images customized for our area.  Whether prints are taken home and framed, put on the fridge, or mailed to a friend, they are worth saving.

Pioneerland Library System is sponsoring this letterpress event as a part of a tour of four unique art programs this summer from ReadyGo!, a project from Springboard for the Arts.  ReadyGo! events use artist-designed mobile tools to spark interaction. 

The streetcorner letterpress will also be in Dassel on Labor Day and in a number of other towns in our library system through September.  Another ReadyGo! stand, a mobile sign shop, will be at a number of libraries including New London and Spicer in July.  A mobile drawing station called One Another will be in Hutchinson on Friday, September 16 and in Willmar the next day.  The complete schedule is available in a brochure at our library.

This project is funded in part or in whole with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.  There is no charge for you to come and participate in these art projects, so stop over on Watercade Saturday to make a print of your own. 

We have a program for teens on the second Saturday of each month and any time there’s a fifth Saturday, as well.  This month that falls on Watercade Saturday, too.  Since we’ll have the letterpress here, Margaret will be bringing the teens outside to try it, and she’ll have other activities for them, too.  Ages eleven  to eighteen are welcome to come at 1:30 to join in the fun.  There’s no need to sign up in advance.

And finally, we are so proud of our children’s librarian Jan Pease on being selected as this year’s Watercade grand marshal.  With 25 years of service at the library, she has had a positive effect on so many young people in this community and continues to do so every day.  You can wave to her in the Watercade parade Saturday evening.   Have a wonderful celebration!