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, March 22, 2017

Food, glorious food for our community

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The Litchfield Library is again offering a Food for Fines program to support the local food shelf during Minnesota FoodShare month.  Our program will run from March 15 to March 31.  For each donated item you bring to the library for the food shelf, we will waive $1 of your late fees, up to a maximum of $5 per person.  This can apply only to late fees, not to replacement fees for lost or damaged items.  Last year, Dassel, Grove City, and Litchfield library patrons donated a total of 92 pounds of food to the Meeker County food shelf through Food for Fines.  It’s a good way to help your community and yourself at the same time.

While we’re talking about food, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to buy interesting groceries, you may want to know about some of our new cookbooks.  One that’s popular right now is by Oprah Winfrey: Food, Health, and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life.  While Oprah discusses her relationship with food throughout the book, it is also a cookbook.  It lists Weight Watchers points for all of the recipes and generally espouses the Weight Watchers philosophy.  The recipes have some fairly complicated ingredient lists for the ordinary cook, but that’s often true of cookbooks.

The London Cookbook: Recipes from the Restaurants, Cafes,and Hole-in-the-Wall Gems of a Modern City is a trendy new cookbook.  Author Aleksandra Crapanzano got incredulous responses when she told them she was writing a book about the food scene in London; England doesn’t have a reputation for stellar food.  However, she says things have changed so much in the past twenty years, with chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and Jamie Oliver raising the bar in London restaurants.  The book blends travel information with recipes for the home cook. 

Based in a very different part of the world, Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South is all about American Southern cooking.  Author Vivian Howard is the star of PBS’s A Chef’s Life and the owner of Chef and Farmer restaurant in Kinston, North Carolina.  She based her restaurant’s menu on what was available from local farmers, even when that meant she needed to be creative with an overabundance of sweet potatoes and blueberries.  This cookbook combines her recipes with stories of growing up in Deep Run, North Carolina, and training as a chef in New York City.

Another PBS show, America’s Test Kitchen, has a new cookbook out called Bread Illustrated: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving Bakery-Quality Results at Home. Baking bread can be intimidating, but this cookbook breaks the process down into steps accompanied by six to sixteen color photos per lesson.  Recipes range from easy to advanced.

Another one for the bakers, Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life teaches techniques that can challenge beginners. Author Kate McDermott teaches Pie Camps across the country.  People describe her as a pie guru who teaches life lessons like peace and forgiveness along with crust techniques.  Personally, I’ve been more peaceful when making pies since I started using lard, and it sounds like some of McDermott’s recipes go that way, too. This book is Overdrive's Big Library Read through March 30th, so you can check out the e-book no matter how many other people already have it checked out right now.

Food, glorious food!  Whether you cook it for your family or donate it to people in need in our community, food is a great way to show you care. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

What If?

By Jan Pease
Sometimes books are written in answer to the question “what if?”  Randall Munroe, a former NASA employee and blogger published a book titled, “What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Question.” His blog is called, and includes very funny web comics and answers to silly questions asked by real readers.  An example is, "Would a toaster still work in a freezer?"The book is available here at Litchfield library and several other libraries in Pioneerland Library System. The answer is, yes, but it might make the freezer overheat, since toasters toast at about 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

I’m not sure what got me on that tangent, but I think Liz Braswell is to blame.  She has a degree in Egyptology and spent ten years producing video games.  She sounds like the kind of quirky person I would like to have as a friend.  Her new books are what she calls “Twisted Tales” as they are Disney stories with an unusual twist.  For example, what if Belle’s mother was the one who cursed the beast?  How would that change “Beauty and the Beast?”  What if Aladdin had never found the lamp?  Watch for the titles “A Whole New World,” and “As Old as Time,” both published by Disney Press.

Nicholas Gannon asks “Have you ever wanted to hold a piece of the impossible?”  His new book, “The Doldrums,” itself looks like an impossible thing.  This is a long book (340 pages) with beautiful, full-color illustrations, which are rare in “chapter books.”  Three friends, Archer, Adelaide, and Oliver try to go on an adventure which never quite gets off the ground.  This is a slow moving book that would be a perfect companion for a rainy, cold day this spring.

What do you get when your writing team consists of a former NFL star defensive player with a degree in English and a law degree plus a legendary All Star and World Series baseball player?  It means your writing team is Tim Green and Derek Jeter. They have collaborated on a new book, “Baseball Genius,” that looks like the start of a new series featuring a character that has the ability to tell what pitch a pitcher will throw.  The second book in the series is “Baseball Genius #2: Double Play.”  I’m sure that Tim Green’s writing ability added to Derek Jeter’s character and baseball knowledge will be a winning combination. 

Look for beautiful new copies of Lois Lowry’s book, “Number the Stars,” and E.L. Konisburg’s book, “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”  Copies of these books had been loved to death, so we purchased replacements.  We also replaced the first four Nancy Drew mysteries, and the first four Hardy Boys Mysteries.  To read more books in those series, please request them through the Pioneerland Library catalog. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Travel to a different time in a book

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Do you like to go back in time when you read a novel?  Or to learn your history through a good story?  My very favorite way to learn about history is through musicals like Hamilton and Les Misérables, but I enjoy reading historical fiction, too.  Of course, some authors base their historical fiction on factual events and people, while others create stories and characters that simply take place in a different time.  Any author of historical fiction writes it best when they’ve done their research and have a solid sense of the time period of their story, whether that’s ancient times or the 20th century.  Our library has a huge range of historical fiction, including these novels that have recently been added to our collection.

The Dangerous Ladies Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini is a historical mystery.  This is book five in the Carpenter and Quincannon series about a pair of fictional detectives.  The series is set in 1890s San Francisco, with echoes of the Sherlock Holmes stories which were written during that era. In this installment, Sabina and John need to stop an extortion scheme and solve a locked room murder.

Tracie Peterson has a new book out with co-author Kimberley Woodhouse: In the Shadow of Denali.  This Christian fiction novel launches a new series called The Heart of Alaska.  A young woman works as a cook in the new hotel near Mt. McKinley, while her father works as a wilderness guide.  A young man arrives to become an apprentice guide, but his real goal is to investigate his father’s death.  The two find romance as they work together to find answers on the frontier in the early 1900s. 

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk tells the life story of an 85-year-old woman as she walks to a party in New York City in 1984.  Based on a real person with a different name, Lillian was the top woman in advertising in the 1930s.  As she meets people from all walks of life along her way, the quick-witted Lillian reflects on her exciting and difficult life and the ways that the city has changed from the Jazz Age to the ‘80s.  Book critics like this one.

W.E.B. Griffin’s newest novel, Curtain of Death, features the kidnapping of two Women’s Army Corps members in Munich in 1946.  One of them works for the Directorate of Central Intelligence, and she kills the Soviet agents who kidnap her, causing repercussions for her agency.  This series, Clandestine Operations, is co-written with William E. Butterworth, and it features the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency and the beginning of the Cold War.

Fans of Regency romance may enjoy Someone to Love by Mary Balogh.  The Earl of Riverdale has died, leaving his fortune to the daughter no one knew he had.  Anna grew up in an orphanage in Bath, knowing nothing of her family, and now she must learn to be a lady, while dealing with the resentments of her newfound relatives and the attentions of a duke. 

The One Man by Andrew Gross is a thriller about an attempt to free a man imprisoned in Auschwitz.  A physics professor has been taken there, and the Nazis have burned his papers, leaving him as one of only two people in the world with the knowledge contained in them.  A man with a desk job working in intelligence in Washington, D.C., is sent on the mission. 

Historical fiction can take the form of romance, mystery, fantasy, horror, Christian fiction, or even comics.  Talk to our staff and we will be glad to help you find a book set in a time period you enjoy.  

Friday, March 3, 2017

Baby Animal Names and Other Important Subjects

By Jan Pease

At Story Hour on March 3, we read the book “In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb” and made a lion/lamb puppet.  The lion face was on one side and the lamb face was on the other side.  It was a cute project.  It is amazing to watch young children work so intently on a project.

Anyway, the children and I were talking about how a lamb is a baby sheep, and of course that made me wonder why a baby sheep isn’t called a calf or a foal.  I wondered why a baby cow is a calf and not a foal.  And why a baby deer is called a fawn but a baby goat is called a kid.  It gets so confusing, but if you say them out loud, the wrong combination just sounds wrong.  A baby buffalo is definitely a calf, not a foal.

I did a tiny bit of digging and found all kinds of information. English is kind of a patchwork language that borrows from whoever was in charge of Britain after the Romans left.  The Oxford English Dictionary had more information than I wanted, but is a great source. The website is

English also has really unusual words for groups of animals called collective nouns.  For example, a group of alligators is called a congregation.   One of the sources for  many of the strange words for groups of animals is “The Book of Saint Albans,” which was an essay on hunting, hawking and heraldry published sometime around 1486. It was attributed to Dame Juliana Berners but described things a gentleman needed to know. Oddly enough, many of the names are still used today.

Various educational websites like Enchanted Learning, which is, have interesting activities for children about animal names.  I could plan months of story times based on those unusual and archaic animal names.

There are even books to consider if this subject is interesting.  You might try “They Call Me Wooly: What Animal Names Can Tell us,” by Keith Du Quette or “Tanka Tanka Skunk,” by Steve Webb.  “In My Backyard,” by Valarie Giogas is a lovely book of animals that are easily found where we live.  Eric Carle’s famous book, “Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too?”  identifies names of animals and their groups. 

It isn’t necessary to know that a group of alligators is a congregation, but it enriches a child’s vocabulary to be exposed to words that aren’t used every day. 

Have some fun with words.  I can just imagine Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory” hosting a web show called “Fun with Etymology!”    As always, I hope to see you at the library.