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, June 30, 2017

Some Stories are Poignant, Some are Funny, and Some are Just Plain Silly!

By Jan Pease

I’ve been told that in the early 1960s, I told a NASA representative who visited our school that I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up.  Of course, then the unwritten rule was that only men could be astronauts.  “Almost Astronauts,” by Tanya Lee Stone, tells the true story of the thirteen women who were part of Project Mercury.  Known as the Mercury 13, they helped make it possible for later women astronauts to fly, even though they never left Earth.

“Counting Thyme” is a long (300 pages) poignant story about a family who moves to New York City so their young son can participate in a drug cancer trial.   The author, Melanie Conklin, asks the question, “How do you find your voice when your family isn’t listening?”  Thyme, the protagonist of the story, loves her brother but misses her home, her friends and her normal life. 
Kristin Rofitke wrote and illustrated her book, “Animal Beauty.”  In this very funny book, Ms. Rofitke tells the story of animals in a zoo who discover a fashion magazine and immediately try to follow the beauty advice.  I wonder   if anti-wrinkle cream really would work on an elephant.   This is a book I ordered because participants in “Camp Read-A-Lot” will be reading it.

 I also ordered “Claude in the Spotlight” for the same reason.  Alex T.  Smith, another talented author/illustrator, has written the series of Claude books which are famous world-wide.   I had a difficult time summarizing this character, so I borrowed a description from Booklist: "Claude is a small, plump dog who wears a beret and a lovely red sweater.  He has a  best friend, Sir Bobblysock, a striped sock who is grubby and smells a bit like cheese."  I really thought Sir Bobblysock was some kind of cat, but he's not.  He's a sock. In Mr. Smith's book, Claude and Sir Bobblysock join a dance troupe but have to perform in a dark, scary theater.  Of course, there is also a legend of a scary ghost connected to the theater. says of Mr. Smith: "After briefly considering careers in space travel, cookery and being a rabbit, Alex T. Smith finally decided to become an illustrator."

I ordered "Ada Twist, Scientist," by Andrea Beaty, because it is also on the Camp Read-A-Lot list, and it fits in so well with our summer reading theme, "Reading by Design."  A poster of "Ada Twist, Scientist," is even part of our summer decorating.  Ada is a little girl who began speaking late but is full of curiosity about the world around her. She is a little quirky and different, but so what!

If you're curious about "Camp Read-A-Lot," it is a fun, two-day workshop about children's literature, which is held all over the state of Minnesota.  Pioneerland librarians and area teachers are invited to Granite Falls July 26-27 and registration is only $40.00.  Register by July 21st to participate.  Information is available at area libraries.

Closed for Independence Day

Photo by Mike Mozart

Pioneerland libraries will be closed on Tuesday, July 4, for Independence Day.
Hours on Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday will be as usual.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Family movies for summer vacation

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The big push in libraries in the summertime is the summer reading program for kids.  We really want kids to keep reading regularly over the summer so that they don’t lose ground by the time school starts in the fall.  But we know that families also like to relax in front of the TV together sometimes on these hot summer days.  Our library has some recent DVD additions that your family may want to check out.

Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast is a beautiful reimagining of their animated classic.  Emma Watson and Dan Stevens star as Belle and her beast, with extensive CGI animation making the enchanted household objects come alive.  New songs are included along with the original songs from the 1991 version, but this isn’t a film adaptation of the stage musical, which is also based on the animated movie.  My daughters and I loved this movie so much more than we expected to, but we also know people who didn’t really like it.  See for yourself by checking it out from the library, but be warned that it’s in high demand.

Dark Horse is a Welsh documentary that the website Common Sense Media recommends for families and that Rotten Tomatoes gives a 97% positive rating.  It’s an inspiring true story of a group of poor workers in a small town in Wales who pooled their money to breed and train a racehorse, entering a world usually open only to the wealthy and high-class.  It’s an old-fashioned tale of beating the odds, especially appealing for horse lovers, but really a general crowd-pleaser. 

The Eagle Huntress is another documentary that can give people of all ages a glimpse at another part of the world.  The film follows a 13-year-old girl in Mongolia as she trains to become the first female eagle hunter in twelve generations of her family.  If you enjoy falconry or girl-power stories, this highly-rated movie may be for you.  Daisy Ridley (Rey in the new Star Wars series) narrates.

 Planet Earth II is the new sequel to the BBC documentary made in 2006.  This also has Common Sense Media’s stamp of approval for families, and an amazing 100% Rotten Tomatoes rating.  Drone technology plus improvements in cameras in the years since the original have made the visuals even more stunning.  The DVD set includes six episodes covering different types of habitat, with an overall focus on environmentalism.

 Fuller House is the sequel to the ‘80s-‘90s sitcom Full House.  It’s a Netflix show, but we have it on DVD.   Almost the entire cast came back to reprise their roles, with DJ Tanner-Fuller now raising her kids in her childhood home with the help of two hapless female roommates.  Heavy on nostalgia, the thirteen-episode season is recommended for ages ten and up.

I’m looking forward to watching The Lego Batman Movie once it lands on the shelf at the Litchfield Library, but it’s been too popular to sit there yet.  This is a sequel to “The Lego Movie,” which was very fun and extremely popular with all ages.  Batman as played by Will Arnett was a strong supporting character in that first movie, and he stars in this new one, learning that he needs to work with others if he’s going to save Gotham City. 

Whether you want to go more educational or more toward pure entertainment, these movies can appeal to the whole family.  Litchfield Library has over 2000 DVDs available to check out, and many more are available to order from other libraries. Enjoy a free movie night by stopping at the library!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Minnesota mystery author Dennis Herschbach

Meet Minnesota author Dennis Herschbach Wednesday, June 21, at 6:30 p.m. in the meeting room of the Litchfield Public Library.  He will be here to discuss the 3rd book in the his Two Harbors mystery series, A River Through Two Harbors.

Fictional law enforcement officer Deidre Johnson uncovers a crime ring trafficking native girls to the harbor in Duluth.  She faces the conflict between the normalcy she sees around her and the long-kept secret river of victims that flows through her small town.

Hosted by Litchfield Library's Mystery Book Club and sponsored by member Pat Hanson.  Refreshments will be served.

Friday, June 9, 2017

True stories can tell good stories

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Good stories aren’t limited to novels.  Many memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies tell very interesting stories, and we have many new ones at the library.

Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story is Stephen Curtis Chapman’s new autobiography.  The contemporary Christian musician starts with his childhood, chronicles his rise to stardom and his marriage, and shares stories of the children born and adopted into his family.  Chapman lost his five-year-old daughter in a tragedy in 2008, and he discusses this in the book.  He also tells the stories behind his songs.

Between Them: Remembering My Parents is novelist Richard Ford’s account of his parents’ lives.  It’s really two short memoirs in one, the first section about his father and the second about his mother, with the whole book being only 179 pages long. In it, the author examines his parents’ lives before and after his birth; they were married for sixteen years before he was born.  Book reviewers say this is a beautiful book about Ford’s love for his parents, as well as their love for him and each other.  Ford won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996 for his novel Independence Day.

Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom is a dual biography by Thomas E. Ricks.  Rather than covering their entire lives, the book focuses on the 1930s and ‘40s, when each did his part to fight authoritarianism.  In the mid-1930s, they both had close calls: Orwell was shot in the neck in the Spanish Civil War, and Churchill was hit by a car in New York City.  At the time, neither was experiencing success in his work.  These Englishmen went on, in their own ways, to help the world see that freedom is essential and that it requires, as the Star Tribune put it, “intellectual clarity and moral courage.”

Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage is a memoir by Dani Shapiro.  Shapiro is a respected author, having previously written memoirs on family tragedy, writing, and the search for meaning.  This time she examines her eighteen-year marriage, not as a chronological story but, again, as a search for meaning.  She highlights the fragility and strength of a marriage relationship, reflecting on how the events that happen in their lives shape it.  Together they have faced the loss of their parents, changes in their careers, and nearly losing their son to an illness. 

Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family is Kathy McKeon’s memoir of her thirteen years as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ personal assistant. McKeon was a new immigrant from Ireland when she began working for Jackie the year after JFK’s assassination.  She served as a nanny to the Kennedy children, as well.  Reviewers say the memoir is both honest and kind, a well-written insider’s perspective that really doesn’t violate the family’s privacy. 

Other new biographies and memoirs at the library include Man of the Year by Lou Cove; Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood; This is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare by Gabourey Sidibe; Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life by Sally Bedell Smith; and Rebel Mother: My Childhood Chasing the Revolution by Peter Andreas.  Look for these and other true stories of people’s lives on the nonfiction shelves, both on the shelf of new books and in the main collection.

Family musician Paul Spring at Saturday storytime

Children's author Michael Hall at storyhour

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

New fiction at the library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Summer is beginning, and for some people that means a chance to lounge on the patio with a good book.  Some of the new books at the library might be just what you’re looking for.
“Miramar Bay” by Davis Bunn is a gentle romance that has been compared to the novels of Nicholas Sparks.  Bunn has been a bestselling Christian fiction author for some time, but this book doesn’t have the inspirational aspect he’s been known for.  A Hollywood actor flees his life of fame and an engagement to an heiress, taking a job in an idyllic small town working as a waiter. Reviewers say it’s emotional and captivating. 

“The Burial Hour” by Jeffrey Deaver is the thirteenth book in the Lincoln Rhyme series.  Rhyme is a wheelchair-bound forensics expert who is making wedding plans when he and his fiancĂ©e get involved in the case of a businessman kidnapped from a New York City street in broad daylight.  The kidnapper left a miniature noose at the scene, and soon a video appears of the victim struggling for his life.  Book reviews say this one has a very complicated, even improbable, storyline and that it isn’t the strongest installment in the series, but it’s still a solid mystery novel.

For those who like historical romance, “My One True Highlander” by Suzanne Enoch may be your cup of tea.  Scottish Highlander Graeme must deal with the disaster his foolish younger brothers have caused when they kidnap Lady Marjorie, the daughter of their English neighbor.  Reviewers call it “thrilling,” “colorful,” and of course “romantic,” set in a beautiful summertime landscape in the Highlands. 

Donna Leon’s latest Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery has been getting stellar reviews.  “Earthly Remains” finds the reliable Brunetti burning out on handling the criminals of Venice; he takes a leave of absence in the villa of a relative, out on an island in the lagoon.  When the villa’s caretaker disappears, Brunetti feels he must return to his job to investigate.  Reviewers say these novels are strong on character development and a sense of place.  Kirkus Reviews described this book as “a vacation for your own soul.”

“The Stars are Fire” is Anita Shreve’s newest novel.  The fictional story of an unhappily married mother is set within the true story of the Maine fire of 1947.  Between October 13 and 27 of that year, nine towns were entirely destroyed, 851 homes and 397 seasonal cottages burned down, and half of Acadia National Park was wiped out.  In this novel, a pregnant woman flees to the beach with her two young children, watching her house burn to the ground while her husband works with the other volunteer firefighters in an attempt to save the town.  Reviewers say the plot of this one is not really very strong, but that it’s worth reading for the history and the writing style. 

For those who prefer science fiction, there’s “The Book of Joan” by Lidia Yuknavitch.  A retelling of the story of Joan of Arc, this novel is a dystopian nightmare set on a platform floating over the destroyed and radioactive Earth.  Humans are damaged echoes of what they used to be, saving stories from history by branding and grafting them onto their skin while they live under a dictator’s rule.  A group of rebels takes inspiration from young eco-terrorist Joan’s story. 

Science fiction, literary fiction, mystery, or romance – find the book you want for a leisurely summer day by visiting the library.

Friday, June 2, 2017

It's Here!

By Jan Pease

This is the week!   Everything starts!
Please pick up a bright yellow bookmark, available at the checkout desks, so you will know exactly what’s going on for young people at Litchfield Public Library.  It’s time to register to participate in summer reading and start to combat summer slide.

What do we mean by summer slide?  Children routinely forget 2 or more months of what they learn through the school year.  It’s the reason teachers have to review and review at the beginning of each school year.  It’s the reason some of my piano students, sadly, didn’t get past book two because they had to re-learn everything from the previous year.    

Michael Hall, a well-known children’s author, will visit the library Friday, June 9th at 10:00.  I can’t wait to meet him.  His books include “Frankencrayon,” “It’s an Orange Aardvark!” and many other favorites.  According to his website, before becoming a children’s author, “Mr. Hall was an award-winning graphic designer whose work included graphic identities for the City of Saint Paul, Macalester College, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the Hennepin County Medical Center.”  Mr. Hall lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  “My Heart is Like a Zoo” is my personal favorite among his books.

On Saturday, June 10th, Paul Spring will return to Litchfield Public Library for a free concert.   Mr.  Spring is so talented!  He is a marvelous guitar player, he sings, and he writes music.  And he puts on a wonderful, interactive program.  He will start at 10:00.  Mr. Spring  lives in Minneapolis but last year he mentioned  how much he enjoys getting out of the city.

Thanks to the teachers and staff at Ripley School who welcomed me in to present the summer reading program to several classes. We have traditionally offered field trips to classes, but elementary students have changed over the years.  Field trips take a lot of time and chaperones.  I visited the Kindergarten classes as well as 3rd and 4th grade   classes. This experiment was very successful and next year we plan to give teachers a choice of a field trip or a visit at the school.   I came away from this positive experience knowing that I couldn’t do their job!