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, May 25, 2018

The Reading Gap

By Jan Pease

 I’ve been telling students about an experience we had at the Minnesota Zoo one summer a few years ago.  We were sitting in the tiger house when suddenly a huge, male Amur tiger came in to view.  I felt that one minute I was looking at the brush, and then this huge beast came out of nowhere.  It was  amazing, to say the least. There really was no tiger in sight, and suddenly there was a TIGER! I was so glad to have thick glass between us.

I feel that way about the school year.  It seems to be winter, winter, winter, spring and SUDDENLY! It’s summer!

With the school year finishing so soon, I need to remind parents and grandparents about a   problem   called “summer slide.”   Our summer reading program, iREAD, from the Illinois Library Association, states on its website that “Young people experience learning losses when they don’t engage in educational activities during the summer.  Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer. Libraries are part of the solution.”  

One statistic that I’ve found on the educational site,, an educational site based in Canada, is that students lose an average of two months of their reading achievement over the summer break.  Students may lose as much as 2.6 months of math achievement over the summer. 

The problem expands as students go farther in school.  The video website  has several significant videos about the education gap.  To watch them, go to and search for the NBC News video  with Brian Williams called “Summer Learning.” There is also a really good video called “ the  6,000 hour Learning Gap.”  Each of these present an easy-to-understand look at a national problem.

I suggested to a group of third-grade students that the answer to this problem might be having year round school.  They gave a resounding NO!  They do like that long summer break.  As we move farther and farther away from being a rural, agriculture – based community, year round school with significant breaks of, say, 4 weeks might be an option.  

It isn’t all just work.  Summer reading time lets students have the chance to choose what they want to read.  Reading for fun, not just reading enough to get by, is part of what produces a fluent reader. 

There was once a girl in Iowa who liked to daydream away her school days.  She remembers going to school in the fall, having forgotten how to hold her pencil.  Sad story, but true.  Don’t let your children be that little girl (although she turned out ok!)

See you at the library!

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Civil War, 150 years after the first Memorial Day

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Did you know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day?  It was first widely observed 150 years ago, in 1868, as a way to remember the soldiers who had died in the Civil War.  The library has a number of recent books about the American Civil War for those who enjoy learning about our history.

The popular new novel Varina is the latest by Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain.  Teenage Varina Howell married the much-older widower Jefferson Davis in 1845, never imaging more than a quiet life in Mississippi.  With her grandfather involved in politics in the north, her own education in Philadelphia, and the first fifteen years of her marriage spent in Washington, D.C., Varina was conflicted about both the war and slavery, and she was not pleased when her husband became president of the Confederacy.  The novel includes her flight south with her children, with Union soldiers in pursuit as the Confederacy fell.  After her husband’s death, Varina moved to New York City and became close friends with Julia Grant, Ulysses’ widow.  This well-written book asks still-relevant questions about whether Varina was complicit in the things her husband did.

Speaking of Ulysses S. Grant, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow wrote another respected biography in the past year, this one simply titled Grant From business failures, corrupt staff members, alcoholism, and a resignation from the army in disgrace, to rapid advancement, military and political success, and literary acclaim, Grant’s life swung back and forth between bad and good fortune many times.  Chernow makes the case that Grant was one of America’s best but most underappreciated presidents.

Another biography, Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary tells the story of Edwin Stanton, the powerful and controversial man who raised an army for the Union.  Lincoln’s right hand man, Stanton supervised the army from his telegraph office.  He had thousands of people imprisoned for supposed war crimes, which included things like calling for an armistice.  When Lincoln was shot, the former attorney quickly took charge, informing the public, directing General Grant to secure the Capitol, and collecting evidence from the crime scene.  Published last year, this was the first biography of Stanton in fifty years, so he isn’t a familiar figure to many of us.

The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America is a recent Civil War history.  Reviewers say that author Edward L. Ayers deeply researched the material and wrote an engaging narrative with a fresh perspective on the familiar events.  This book focuses on the Great Valley on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line: the counties of Augusta, Virginia and Franklin, Pennsylvania.  From this vantage point, Ayers examines battles, the destruction of property in war, families who sent soldiers to the front, and the hope and reality of emancipation. 

Other classic and recent books about the Civil War are always available at the library.  Look under the Dewey Decimal area 973.7 in nonfiction, or do a keyword search for “United States history Civil War fiction” in the catalog to find novels. 

Adult Book Club - Wonder

Friday, May 11, 2018

Reading Can Take You Anywhere!

  By Jan Pease

Mark your calendars! Synchronize your watches! It’s almost time for summer  programs at the library!

The theme for 2018’s summer reading program is “Reading Takes you Everywhere.” Protect your students from summer slide this summer by taking advantage of free programming at the library. Beginning June first, young people read or keep track of various activities.  Every time all the hexagons on the reading game are filled in, bring the reading game in and receive a reward.  Participants can pick up more reading  and activity game sheets and continue through August 31st.

Children and Teens may register to participate beginning June 1st, but registration can happen throughout the summer.

Regularly scheduled library programs include:

Teen Gaming Night, offered the 1st Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m.

Maker Space, offered on the 2nd Mondays, 3:30, for ages 12 and up. 
Toddler Time, Wednesdays, 10:15, for babies and toddlers accompanied by a caregiver.  

 Beginner Book Club, offered the 3rd Thursday of every month at 3:00 for children in grades 1-3.  Children going into 1st grade are welcome if they can read.

 Brickheads, every Thursday night at 6:30, for ages 4-14

 Preschool Story Hour, every Friday at 10:00  for children 3-5 years old.  Children who have finished kindergarten are always welcome.

 Teen Programs, offered the 2nd and 5th Saturday of every month, at 1:30, for tweens and teens.

 Extra special events, suitable for everyone, are also planned.

Magic Bob is bringing his “Reading Can Take you Anywhere” fun-filled magic show to Litchfield Library on June 22nd   at 10:00.

Ralph Covert will bring his family concert “Ralph’s World,” to the library on June 29th at 10:00.

Belinda Jensen from KARE 11 will bring “Bel the Weather Girl” to the library on August 3rd  at 10:00.

The folks from “One Vegetable, One Community” will visit the library on August 10th  at 10:00.  This year’s program, featuring beets, will be much more fun than it sounds.   

Finally,  the Minnesota Zoomobile will come to the library on August 17 at 10:00th .  Zoo staff provide a great experience for all ages. 

Reading really  can take you everywhere!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Outstanding books by Minnesota authors

By Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The 2018 Minnesota Book Awards were presented on April 21. This was the 30th annual awards ceremony, which is sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.  These awards celebrate Minnesota authors and illustrators.

This year’s award for children’s literature went to A Different Pond by Bao Phi.  This picture book tells a story from Phi’s childhood.  He would wake up early with his father to fish in a Minneapolis pond before his father went to work, as a way to help feed their family, and his father would tell him about a different pond he used to go to in Vietnam.  “A Different Pond” was also a Caldecott Honor Book this year, and we have it at the Litchfield Library.

The award for genre fiction went to The End of Temperance Dare by Wendy Webb.  This Gothic thriller is set in a former tuberculosis sanatorium, now turned into an artists’ retreat.  The new director is expecting a peaceful change from her old job as a crime reporter, but a sense of impending doom strikes her as soon as she arrives on the grounds, and she begins to suspect that the artists have been gathered there for a sinister purpose.  The Litchfield Library also has a copy of this novel.

Linda LeGarde Grover won the award for memoir and creative nonfiction with Onigamiising: Seasons of an Ojibwe Year. Onigamiising is the Ojibwe name for Duluth, “the place of the small portage.”  Grover is an Ojibwe elder and a professor at the University of Minnesota – Duluth.  The essays in this collection originally were published as monthly columns in the Duluth Budgeteer newspaper, and they are reflections on life through the seasons of the year.  Litchfield Library has this memoir.

The novel and short story award went to What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah.  This is a collection of fantastical short stories about the ties between family members, lovers, and friends, and between them and the places they call home.  Arimah has previously won awards for her stories in magazines; this is her first book, and it has also won a number of honors.  The Litchfield Library owns a copy.

The award for poetry went to Heid E. Erdrich for Curator of Ephemera at the New Museum for Archaic Media.  Heid is a professor at Augsburg University, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe, and the sister of novelist Louise Erdrich.  This is her second book of poetry to win the Minnesota Book Award.  Communication and technology are the themes of this collection, which is on order for the Litchfield Library.

Andrea Swensson is the host of The Local Show on the radio station The Current.  She won this year’s award for Minnesota Nonfiction with Got to Be Something Here: The Rise of the Minneapolis Sound.  This book explores the development of R&B, funk, and soul in the Twin Cities, starting with 1958, the year Prince was born.  This book is available at the Dassel and Glencoe libraries and can be ordered by our patrons.

The other winning books were The End of the Wild by Nicole Helget (middle grade literature), The Exo Project by Andrew DeYoung (young adult literature), and The First and Only Book of Sack: 36 Years of Cartoons for the Star Tribune by Steve Sack (general nonfiction).  Read Minnesotan!