216 N Marshall Ave

Litchfield MN 55355


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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 29, 2017

Fall Books: a Little Science, a Little Fall Color, and a Whole Bunch of Big Words!

 By Jan Pease

As I was looking for information about 3D printing, I stumbled across the story of Jose Delgado Jr., who uses a prosthetic hand that cost $42,000.00.  Jeremy Simon of decided to make Mr. Delgado a hand using open source software and a 3D printer.  He calls the result the “Cyborg Beast” prosthetic hand, and Mr. Delgado reported that his printed prosthetic works better than his expensive myoelectric hand.  The Cyborg Beast hand can be made for about $50.00.  I think this exciting technology will literally change the world.  

So now we get to the reason I was interested in 3D printing.  One of the newest books in the children’s department is “Beauty and the Beak: How Science, Technology, and a 3D-Printed Beak Rescued a Bald Eagle,” by Deborah Lee Rose.  Beauty is a bald eagle whose beak was shot off. Her life was saved by Birds of Prey Northwest director, Janie Veltkamp.   Janie, Nate Calvin, who is a mechanical
engineer, and volunteer dentists and veterinarians worked together to print Beauty a new prosthetic beak. Their website,, contains links to videos about their work, and other information about how discoveries in science are benefitting all kinds of birds.  An update to Beauty’s story is that her natural beak began to slowly regrow, pushing her prosthetic beak off.  Beauty can feed herself and they are evaluating her condition to see if a replacement for her replacement beak is a good idea.  She lives in her own large aviary, which is large enough for her to spread her wings and fly a bit.  This is an amazing story.

“Animal Heroes: The Wolves, Camels, Elephants, Dogs, Cats, Horses, Penguins, Dolphins, and Other Remarkable Animals that Proved They Are Man’s Best Friend,”  by Julia Moberg is a completely lighthearted look at the stories of 40 animals throughout history.
This is a book for animal lovers of all ages. 

Susan Patterson and her husband, James Patterson (yes, THAT James Patterson) have just published a unique alphabet book for older children, “Big Words for Little Geniuses”.  Each letter has a sophisticated word and definition that will enlarge vocabularies for everyone in the family.  For example, A is for Arachibutyrophobia, which is the alarming fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.
If you love words, this is the book for you!

Finally, the perfect picture book for this time of year is “Full of Fall,” by April Pulley Sayre.  This lovely book combines science with full-colored illustrations.  Little scientists can learn about why the leaves change color and fall off the trees.   What! You mean it isn’t Jack Frost?

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That...

By Jan Pease

Fall children’s programs have begun in earnest.  One of the highlights from today was watching a group of very young children using paint dabbers to make colorful fall trees.  They worked so hard on their pictures, and every picture was unique.  One of the things I enjoy about fall is that leaves on each tree change color in their own way. 

Our September book is “In the Middle of Fall,” by Kevin Henke.    We “painted” leaves one week with markers on color diffusing paper, using water to make the colors run together.  I have to find one more leaf craft for next week.

Another highlight from our week came on
Thursday afternoon at Beginner Book club.  We read the book “Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society,” by Betsy Byars and her daughters Betsy Duffy and Laurie Meyers.  These secret writings are short stories from the dogs’ point of view.  Some are very funny.  The kids especially enjoyed chapter four, “The Invisible Enemy,” which tells about the mysterious interloper in the kitchen sink, named “Disposer.”  One of the boys started reading out loud, without being asked, and we read an entire short story together.  Because no one had read all of the stories, we will continue our discussion next month about “Dog Diaries” and hand out books for November.

The children asked to read “Cat Diaries: Secret Writings of the MEOW Society.”  By the way, WOOF stands for “Words of Our Friends,” and MEOW stands for “Memories Expressed in Our Writing.” 

My goal for Beginner Book Club is for the members to read for enjoyment.  Yes, we have a few discussion questions and sometimes look at character development and plot.  But I want these children to enjoy reading for its own sake.  When they started spontaneously reading aloud, I almost wept.  Beginner Book Club meets once each month on the third Thursday, and is for students in grades 1-3.

Make it a point to look around the library at the fall decorations.  The staff who decorated switched things around.  I think some of the items that are usually in the children’s department are in the adult areas, and some of the adult decorations are in the children’s department.  Whatever was done, and whoever did it, I like it!  Books from the “Harry Potter” series appear here and there, and the effect is, dare I say it, magical!

Finally, be sure to look at the LEGO creations on display near the children’s desk.  This display will be up for one more week, and then everything will be broken up and put in the LEGO totes.  I especially like the flying hair salon.  It would be so much simpler if the beauty salon flew to the customers.  Also be sure to look at the red diamond shape.  The builder started at the point of the diamond and built outward.  It’s an interesting bit of engineering. Next week we will have challenges from the new Booster Bricks Box. It should be fun.  If you’re aged 4-14, come and join us!


Friday, September 15, 2017

Hot books for chillier days

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Fall is here, daylight is shorter, and the weather is bound to turn cooler soon.  Time to find a good novel to curl up with!  Look for these novels that are getting some buzz this fall.

John le CarrĂ© is a British master of the spy novel.  He is 85 years old, and for the first time in 25 years he has come out with a new George Smiley book, A Legacy of Spies.  This new installment connects back to his classic novels The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy but is set in the current day.  Cold War novels had seemed to be a thing of the past, but everything old is new again.  You might expect that le CarrĂ© couldn’t effectively go back to storylines written in the 1960s and ‘70s, but reviewers say it’s fresh and brilliant.

For those who like science fiction, The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones offers a literary take on dystopia.  In this version of the future, deadly ticks have caused the remnant of the United States to retreat to a safe zone within a ring of scorched earth for protection, although the society within is tightly controlled and full of fear.  But people who pay enough and are brave enough can venture out to see more of the world on guided expeditions.  A group of these adventurers, strangers to each other, get captured by a community of outer-zone survivors, and they have to decide which side they’re on. 

In 2004, Lily Tuck won the National Book Award for fiction for The News from Paraguay even though she wasn’t a well-known author.  She’s still far from being a household name, but her new novella is getting some literary attention.  Sisters is a second-wife’s rumination on what her new husband’s first wife must be like.  The reader never learns the name of either woman.  The narrator becomes obsessed with all that her husband doesn’t tell her about her predecessor, whether she can ever equal her, and the way she betrayed her.
Jesmyn Ward is also a National Book Award winner for her novel Salvage the Bones, which won in 2011.  Her new novel is Sing, Unburied, Sing.  It’s a Southern road novel, and reviewers are so excited about it, comparing it to Homer’s Odyssey and the work of Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, and Flannery O’Connor.  A black woman and her two children drive from her parents’ farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi to the state penitentiary to pick up the children’s white father, encountering dangers on the journey.  Incorporating drug addiction, the legacy of racial violence, and the long-term damage hurricanes can cause, this timely novel ventures into magical realism. 

If you’re looking for a thriller, The Woman Who Couldn’t Scream by Christina Dodd could fit the bill.  The fourth book in the Virtue Falls series features newly-elected sheriff Kateri and a case involving her old friend Merida, who is mute and has returned to town with a different name, a new look, and a plan for revenge after living as a long-suffering trophy wife.  Merida and Kateri are looking for the truth about something that happened nine years earlier and the identity of the person who’s murdering women in the small community. 

Some other novels released in September that you may want to seek out include Enemy of the State by Kyle Mills and the late Vince Flynn, Enigma by Catherine Coulter, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, and The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz, which is a continuation of the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series.  You can order these online through our catalog or stop in to ask a staff person to help you find a copy.  

Friday, September 8, 2017

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

 By Jan Pease
Those of you who have facebook can click on this link and see our favorite spot.

As many of you know, we like to get away “Up North” and spend some time looking at Lake Superior and reading a lot of books. So this is the annual “what I read on my vacation” article.

My husband Dave is working hard to get our house painted before the snow flies. This year our vacation turned into a staycation.

I read a lot.  Some of it was very good.  Some of it was truly embarrassing.  One of the best books I’m still reading is “The Benedict Option: a Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation,” by Rod Dreher.  Mr. Dreher calls attention to the way our culture erodes the family and the church.  He
foresees a coming  dark age nearly as bad as the one in Europe during and after the fall of the Roman Empire.  The  book is an interesting, controversial read, and definitely makes you think.  Reviews at range from “awful” to “vital.”

I discovered Ann Aguirre, a young adult author and her trilogy, “Razorland.”  The titles are “Enclave,” “Outpost,” and “Horde.” Ms. Aguirre does a good job of world-building her post-apocalyptic societies in and around   New York City, which is in ruins.  There are tunnel denizens, various races, and isolated communities who live in walled villages, all faced by an implacable cannibalistic enemy.

I also read “When the English Fall,” by David Williams.  This is another post-apocalyptic novel, told from the point of view of an Amish farmer. The world of the outsiders, called “The English” collapses after a massive solar storm.  The Amish aren’t affected at first by the loss of electricity and the internet and all of the amenities of modern life, but gradually their peaceful world is invaded by desperate people willing to kill just for the sake of killing.  I really enjoyed this book, and hope that Mr. Williams continues the story of a peaceful family surviving in a terrible world.
Because so many people read Charlaine Harris, and because I watched a summer  tv show called “Midnight, Texas” based on her books, I finally read Ms. Harris.  Four of her books! I read “Midnight Crossroad,” “Day Shift,” and “Night Shift,” as well as the first Sookie Stackhouse book, “Dead until Dark.” They are too silly, and have too much romance, and too many vampires, were-tigers, demons, and fallen angels for me. I hope this doesn’t offend any of her fans, but these four and no more.

Jo Nesbo is a Norwegian author who is very popular in our area.  He has been on my list of “to be read” also known as TBR for quite awhile.  I finished the first Harry Hole novel, “The Bat” and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even though I’m not on vacation now, I’m looking forward to reading “Cockroaches,” the second Harry Hole book.

“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” continued the story of Lisbeth Salander that started with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by the late Stieg Larsson. 
David Lagercrantz  is writing the series, now renamed “Stieg Larsson’s  Millennium Series.”  The first time I tried reading “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” I just couldn’t deal with the difference in style, even though Mr. Lagercrantz writes a lot like Mr. Larsson.  But now it’s been long enough since I read the first books, and I’m enjoying getting reacquainted with this Swedish series.

 See you at the library!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Children's books still fun for adults

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

This fall is the 75th anniversary of Little Golden Books, those inexpensive, golden-spined classics of all of our childhoods.  On Tuesday, September 19, the Litchfield Library will be hosting a presentation on the history of Little Golden Books.  At 6 p.m., collector Ellen Radel will share her extensive knowledge of these special children’s books, show us her collection and read one of her favorite Little Golden Books.  She will have some books available for sale at the end. 

If this date doesn’t work for your schedule, you can catch Ellen at the Dassel History Center on Sunday, September 10, at 3 p.m., or at the Hutchinson Library at 6:30 p.m. on September 26, among other Pioneerland libraries that are hosting programs.

Even as adults, we can enjoy children’s books.  In the new book Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult, author Bruce Handy examines classic children’s books.  Handy is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine and was nominated for an Emmy in the ‘90s for writing for Saturday Night Live.  He researched the classic children’s books he read to his kids, such as Goodnight Moon, Charlotte’s Web, and The Cat in the Hat.  In this book he shares perspectives on how we see these books differently as adults than we did when we were children ourselves.  Do you love the artwork of Beatrix Potter or Maurice Sendak?  Do you agree with Handy that Ramona the Pest is as iconic an American character as Tom Sawyer or Jay Gatsby? (I do.)  Reviewers say this book is a pleasure to read, with plenty of humor, and it’s an interesting look at the history and significance of our favorite children’s books. 

Speaking of Goodnight Moon, we have a new biography of its author.  In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary shows that Brown was very different than the quiet classic she’s famous for.  She began writing children’s books for a school, with a mission to create stories that were more than fairy tales and that had gender equality in mind.  Brown prepared for her writing by doing things children would do: picking daisies, watching the clouds, and otherwise observing nature so that she could capture a child’s sense of wonder.  Her approach to writing changed the children’s publishing business.  She also lived an adventurous, bohemian life: as NPR put it, she was no old lady whispering hush.

The editor of the New York Times Book Review, Pamela Paul, has a new book out called My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues.  Paul has kept a notebook all her life called her book of books, or “Bob” for short, which lists all of the books she has read.  The first chapter is called “Brave New World: You Shouldn’t Be Reading That.”  In it, Paul describes what it was like to be a bookworm when she was growing up, and she talks about her adventures in the library, checking out things she was proud of reading, like “Little Women,” and things she was embarrassed about, like Sweet Valley High and Judy Blume books.  She eventually realized the librarians weren’t judging her.  Paul’s memoir should appeal to people who love books and like to think about how the books we read are a part of our lives.

It can be really fun to revisit classic children’s books, whether you’re reading them to your children or grandchildren or just going back to enjoy something on your own.  Did you love The Poky Little Puppy or The Monster at the End of This Book?  Come to our program on the history of Little Golden Books at one of the local libraries and enjoy the nostalgia.  

Closed for Labor Day

Pioneerland libraries will be closed on Monday, September 4, for Labor Day.