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, March 30, 2018

So Many Books, So Little Time

By Jan Pease

Suppose you are a fan of say, John Sandford and you wonder what to read next.  What do you do?
Well, this little article may just help you find your next great reading experience.

One thing you can do is walk up and down the shelves, waiting for something to catch your eye.  With thousands of books to choose from, there is probably something that will interest you. This is
inefficient, to say the least!

Another easy way to find that next book is to simply type “if you like John Sandford” into the Google search bar and see what Google offers.   Google came up with 7,800,000 sites that offer read alikes.  It works, but is a pretty broad result.  The top answers when I tried it were,, and as well as seven million, eight hundred thousand, nine hundred and ninety seven others.  This  also is not a model of efficiency.

A more organized way to find books you might enjoy is to look at a book-selling website, such as ( for short) or  These web sites show “customers who bought this item also bought” examples and include reviews from customers who are not professional book reviewers.  So if we look at John Sandford, we can get an idea of what customers who purchased his books also purchased.  On, Michael Connelly and David Baldacci popped up, along with Mr. Sandford himself.

 On, David Baldacci and Michael Connelly showed up, along with Jonathan Kellerman, Lee Child, James Patterson, and Jeffrey Deaver.  Of course, since John Sandford has written so manybooks, his name shows up for about 7 pages of “also purchased.”

A site that I’ve mentioned before is  This site has some unique features that make it easier to narrow the search.  If I type in John Sandford, I will get a nice list of all his books, both those written solo and those he has co-written.  But the really nifty things show up if you scroll down.  There is a section of books recommended by JOHN SANDFORD! Himself!  
And there is a section that shows that visitors to his page also looked at, you guessed it, Michael Connelly and David Baldacci, as well as Lee Child, James Patterson, Stuart Woods, Harlan Coban, John Grisham, Robert Crais, C.J. Box, Clive Cussler, Jonathan Kellerman, Daniel Silva, Jeffrey Deaver, Janet Evanovich, J.A. Jance, and Kyle Mills.

My favorite method of finding authors is a website called  A friend mentioned on Facebook that she discovered it last year, but it’s new to me.  What else do readers of John Sandford read?  I typed in his name, and like magic more than fifty names popped up, with John Sandford in the middle.  The closer two writers are, the more likely someone will like both of them.  The closest   names in my first search were Michael Connelly, David Baldacci, Lee Child, James Patterson, Stuart Woods, Jonathan Kellerman, J.A. Dance, Jeffrey Deaver, Daniel Silva and C.J.Box, as well as at least 43 other names.  The fun begins when you click on one of the names arranged around John Sandford’s name.  The screen changes, with the new name in the center and other names around it.  I chose Lee Child, and it was interesting to see some of the same names come up.  There were several different names as well. 

This is a sample literature map centered around Martin Amos.

It’s important to remember that writing styles aren’t being analyzed here.  The parent site,, was developed by a German named Marek Gibney, who calls it a self-adaptive system that learns by asking visitors what they like.  It then thinks of other writers that the visitor might like.  To participate, go to  If you type in three authors you like, the site will suggest names to you which you then can like or dislike.  You can add your email if you want to receive information about new things on the site, but I suggest caution there.   Regardless, you can enjoy the literature map without registering.  Have fun!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Find a New Perspective with Documentaries

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

For the past couple of years, we’ve shelved the nonfiction DVDs with the nonfiction books at the Litchfield Library.  It was partly because of shelf space and partly an experiment to see if it would work better for people to find both books and DVDs about a subject together on the shelf. 

In that time, we’ve learned that most people who like to watch documentaries have said they’d rather browse those DVDs in one spot.   So I cleared some shelf space, and you can now find the adult nonfiction DVDs at the end of the last nonfiction shelf, within view of the rest of the DVD collection. 

The children’s DVDs are still on the kids’ side of the library, even some nature documentaries, so don’t forget to check over there for things like Disneynature movies.  We also display the newest DVDs of all types on the first shelf of the main DVD section, so new documentaries are featured there, too.

And there are some new documentaries at the library to check out!  We have the Oscar-nominated movie Last Men in Aleppo on order.  It will be released on DVD this week.  This documentary follows three men in the internationally-recognized White Helmets, an organization of ordinary citizens who function as volunteer first responders in the Syrian civil war.  Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their selfless efforts, these civilians carry out search-and-rescue operations to save as many lives as they can.  With footage of the war in Syria, this film puts human faces on a conflict that’s difficult for many of us to grasp. 

Another new DVD we will be receiving soon is called Reclaiming Life: Faith, Hope, and Suicide Loss.  Produced by Christian publishing house Paraclete Press, this video aims to offer hope to people who have lost loved ones to suicide.  Kay Warren, the co-founder of Saddleback Church with her husband Rick, is one of the featured speakers on the DVD; their 27-year-old son committed suicide in 2013.  The other speakers are author and Roman Catholic priest Ronald Rolheiser, and Marjorie Antus, a writer and mental illness advocate who lost her teenage daughter to suicide in 1995. 

The Oscar-nominated documentary Abacus: Small Enough toJail is available now.  A small financial institution called Abacus was the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges from the 2008 mortgage crisis.  The Chinese immigrant Sung family owned Abacus Federal Savings in Chinatown in New York.  They didn’t deal in subprime mortgages or mortgage-backed securities, the things that got large banks and the economy in trouble.  They had a loan officer who did some illegal things with mortgages that were hard for others to notice because he spoke an unusual dialect and his customers often made cash transactions; when the managers turned him in, they were indicted.   Drawing parallels to It’s a Wonderful Life, the bank founder’s favorite movie, reviewers say this film is far more interesting to watch than you might guess - and that it will make you root for a bank.

Do you enjoy watching cat videos?  A step up from that is the sweet documentary Kedi, a Turkish film about the stray cats of Istanbul.  In this city, cats have always been somewhere between domesticated and feral, wandering as they choose into the lives of people.  If you look at the cast list of this movie, it’s nothing but eight cats.

If you’d like to learn a little something while you watch TV, take a look at the library’s nonfiction DVD section – now easier to browse than ever. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Three for Romance, Two for Fun, and One for the Ages

 By Jan Pease

 We have some interesting young adult books just in from their publishers.  There are three for romance and adventure, two for fun, and one for the ages.

 “Broken Beautiful Hearts” by Kami Garcia was marketed as a young adult novel, but I think it could  be enjoyed by anyone who likes romance with a bit of an edge.  Kami Garcia is well known for putting characters into dramatic and traumatic situations, and she is famous for co-writing the “Beautiful Creatures” and “Dangerous Creatures”  series.  The heroine of this novel has her dreams shattered by an abusive ex-boyfriend.  As she recuperates with relatives, her life might just take an unexpected, romantic turn.

“Nexus,”  by Scott Westerfeld  is a young adult novel from a master storyteller.   The Zeroes are a   group of teens with unusual powers, all born in the year 2000.  Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, and Deborah Biancotti teamed up to write this series, “Zeroes,” “Swarm,” and finally, “Nexus.”  I don’t know that we need another “teens with superpowers” book, but Westerfeld tells a great story. 

Jennifer Castle’s new book, “Together at Midnight,” is a classic great-characters, great-ending romance.
  Realistic teen fiction isn’t a genre I really pay attention to, but this novel seems to have heart as characters are drawn together to perform random acts of kindness after witnessing a tragic accident.

“The Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig,” by Steve Jenkins, is a fun book about a pig  named Esther who is famous in social media. She has a Facebook page and a website,  Esther was sold as a “teacup” pig but is obviously not teacup size.Because of Esther, Steve and his partner have established “The Happily Ever After Esther Farm Sanctuary” in Campbellville, Ontario.  They rescue abandoned and abused farm animals. 

“Outrageous Animal Adaptations: from Big-Eared Bats to Frill-Necked Lizards,”  by Michael J. Rosen is a beautiful, fun book about amazing animals.   Michael J. Rosen wears two hats.  He is both a poet and a children’s author.  One of the animals featured in this book is a favorite of mine, the aye-aye, an unusual kind of lemur with a very long, spindly middle finger that digs grubs out of decaying trees.

The book that just might become a classic is “George Washington: His Legacy of Faith, Character and Courage,”  by Demi.   Demi’s real name is Charlotte Dumaresq Hunt, but she was given her  nickname, “Demi,” by her father, who said she was half the size of her sister. Her biography of George Washington continues her splendid record of publishing gorgeous books with spiritual themes.   
There's something for everyone at Litchfield Public Library! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Find a Book to Finish the Winter Reading Program

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The adult winter reading program runs until the end of March, so if you’ve signed up, you still have a couple of weeks to turn in your book reviews.  The mugs are a really popular prize choice this year.  You will need to read and review three books to get a prize and six to be entered in a drawing.

One good source for book ideas is BookPage, the book review magazine we get at the library.  It’s funded by the Friends of the Litchfield Public Library, and many copies are available at the front desk each month for people to take home.  Walter Mosley is on this month’s cover, since he has a new book out, titled Down the River Unto the Sea.

What else is new in fiction lately?  Kristin Hannah has a very popular new book, The Great Alone.  In 1974, a former Vietnam War POW impulsively moves his wife and 13-year-old daughter to Alaska so that they can live off the grid.  But the family is completely unprepared for the harsh reality of life in the wilderness.  As winter descends, the father’s mental state deteriorates, and mother and daughter learn just how alone they are.  This one has a bit of a waiting list, but reviews suggest it’s worth waiting for.

Fifty Fifty is one of James Patterson’s newest, written with Candice Fox.  This is the second book in the Detective Harriet Blue series.  In this installment, Harriet’s brother has been accused of murder, and her outburst at his trial gets this Australian detective reassigned to a tiny town in the Outback.  Harry needs to escape a man holding her hostage to save the people in the town from a mass murderer and reach a young woman in Sydney who has the information to exonerate her brother.  Thrilling stuff!

The new Girl on the Train is The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.  Books with potentially unreliable narrators have been popular since Gone Girl.  The Woman in the Window references Hitchcock movies, with the agoraphobic main character Anna spending her days watching film noir classics, drinking wine, and watching her neighbors.  Anna sees something she shouldn’t while spying on the new neighbors, but is it real or imagined?  The book is in development for a movie version.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones saw a sudden boost in popularity when Oprah picked it for her latest book club selection.  People magazine also named this its book of the week right before Oprah’s announcement.  Newlyweds in Atlanta are starting on successful careers when husband Roy is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  His wife struggles alone for five years and takes comfort with an old friend, and then Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned and he returns to resume his life with her.  Dealing with issues of race, marriage, and loss, reviewers say Jones has written a complex and powerful story.

If you liked Me Before You and After You by Jojo Moyes, you’ll want to read Still Me, the third in the series.  Louisa Clark has moved from England to New York, taking a job with an extremely rich family and trying to make a long-distance relationship work.  This installment is about Louisa learning to be herself, and it’s described as funny and charming.

Winter isn’t quite over yet, and March often brings snowstorms.  Pick up a novel or two and make the best of it. 

Happy Pi Day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Dreaming of Faraway Places

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Has the cold winter weather made you dream of getting away for a vacation?  Whether you’re actually planning a getaway or just wishing for one, the library has new books about faraway places that you can check out.

For someplace truly tropical, we have a recent edition of Lonely Planet's Tahiti and French Polynesia.  This travel guide covers the history and culture of this group of islands in the South Pacific, along with suggested itineraries and information on the beaches, lagoons, and cities. 

We also have new Lonely Planet guides to Scotland, Iceland, and, for a much closer destination, Chicago.  The Chicago travel guide covers Willis Tower (still the Sears Tower the last time I was there), deep-dish pizza, and baseball, among other attractions.

Another guidebook to a tropical locale, Canary Islands, is part of the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide series.  DK includes many more photos and illustrations than other travel guides, much like the other informational books they publish, often for kids.  This book covers where to stay, eat, shop, golf, and find other entertainment in the Canary Islands.  This island community is part of Spain but off the coast of Morocco, and their tourism department claims that they have the best climate in the world.

We also have the newest DK Eyewitness guide to Egypt.    It includes cutaway 3-D drawings of important sites, floor plans of the major museums, and insights into the history and culture of the country.

Frommer’s Easyguide to Las Vegas 2018 is a short guidebook to this popular, warm destination.  They offer a few suggested itineraries based on your interests, such as sightseeing or a bachelorette party.  Beyond the casinos, they cover the shows, spas, shopping, and even the attractions within driving distance, like Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon.  Frommer’s guides have been published since the ‘50s.

Moon travel guides have been around since 1973, with the publishers starting out as advocates for independent travel.  Their new guidebook Utah gives travelers ideas for visiting national parks, going skiing or river rafting, and touring historic sites. 

We have also recently added Moon guides to Norway, Maine, and Tennessee.  Their guides often include advice on when to visit the locations and how to navigate them with special needs, such as with children or the elderly.

The Rough Guide to Canada gives readers an overview of the huge country from coast to coast.  This guidebook has a lot of information on outdoor activities, such as hiking, skiing, whale watching, and camping.  It also covers Canada’s cities.  Rough Guides are published in the UK, which is a bit of a different perspective, but they provide information for American travelers, too.

When you’re planning a vacation, you can visit the library for resources to help you make decisions about where, when, and how to travel.  Bon voyage!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Weather closing

The Litchfield Library will be closing at 5 p.m. today, March 5, due to the weather.

Friday, March 2, 2018

LiBEARians, Private Eye Monkeys, and Other Funny Picture Books

By Jan Pease

This may or may not be secret information, but I can’t stand it when people refer to the library as “liberry” and to me as a liberrian.     So that makes a new book by Alison Donald, “The New LiBEARian,” both irritating and funny. This begs the question: if the person sitting at the librarian’s desk looks and sounds like a big bear, will Story Time ever be safe again?

Two more very funny books that were written by Steve Sheinkin incorporate time travel, famous historical people, and general silliness.   In the first, Abraham Lincoln escapes from his book and 1860 and pursues his dream of being a professional wrestler.  “Abraham Lincoln, Pro Wrestler” is the title to look for.  The second book is “Abigail Adams, Pirate of the Caribbean.”    Imagine what would happen if the famous First Lady got tired of doing chores at the White House and ran off to join a pirate crew. By the way, all three of these books use the idea of characters escaping off the page of books as a plot device. Is it something in the water?

“Baby Monkey, Private Eye” is a Brian Selznick mixture of picture book, beginning reader, and  graphic novel.  Mr. Selznick experiments with combinations of text and pictures and ties it all together  into a cohesive story.

“When Sophie Thinks She Can’t,”  by Mollie Bang, is the third book about a little girl named  Sophie in the series that started with “When Sophie Gets Angry—Really Really Angry.”   Ms. Bang writes books that help books that help children deal with feelings and frustrations.  She is a favorite author of mine.  I like the message in “When Sophie Thinks She Can’t,” which is that having difficulty solving a problem doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.  It just means that  you can learn to solve that problem, in math or in life.

“Be Brave, Little Penguin,” by Giles Andreae, is a sweet story about a little penguin with a big
problem.  Pip Pip is afraid of water, so he can’t swim in the ocean.  Maybe he needs to read “When Sophie Thinks She Can’t!”  Of course, his mommy helps  him be brave enough to jump into the sea where his penguin instinct takes over and he swims like a pro. 

Finally, I have to tell you about “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Car.”  Kathy Dopirak wrote this little book that fits perfectly with the tune “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”  A car says good night to all his vehicle friends.“Twinkle, twinkle little car, How you love to travel far!”

I love picture books!  If it’s been awhile since you shared a picture book with a child, borrow a book, borrow a child, and enjoy what happens when you put the two together.  See you at the library!