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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

No story time October 31

The library will not be having a story time on Wednesday, October 31.  Join us for Toddler Time next Wednesday at 10:15!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Just Enough Information

By Jan Pease

Children are curious.  They ask questions.    A few weeks ago a little girl asked me about the “crack”  in my chest: the scar from heart valve surgery in 2010. Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to answer those innocent questions.  I just said that it was from when my doctor fixed my heart.  She didn’t need to hear about wired ribs and tubes being pulled out! 

 Child’s World has just published a set of books that show children and adults coping with daily life while dealing with issues like autism, arthritis, diabetes, spina bifida, cancer, food allergies, and other difficulties.  Jeanne Marie Ford, who writes for television and teaches college English, wrote  
these books, which are brightly illustrated and give just enough information.

As I look back at our summer, I remember instances dealing with young people that turned into confrontation, basically problems respecting library staff, the library building, and other library patrons.  A new nonfiction series from Child’s World, “Respect,” was written by T.M. Merk, an elementary educator.  This series, with titles like “Being Bella,” and “Journey to Joy’s House,” looks at topics such as respecting authority, respecting property, and respecting yourself.    

I finally have a drawing book at my level!  We purchased several books in a new drawing series by Susan Kesselring, “Five Steps to Drawing …” The pictures are broken down into five steps; steps one through four establish the outline, and step five is always  to add color.  You basically copy each step and see what happens.  I managed to draw a lion using the ideas from “Five Steps to Drawing Zoo Animals.” My lion is smiling and doesn’t look like a penguin, so it must be successful.     I think the most popular item in the series will be the book about drawing “Machines at Work.” 

Mary Lindeen, a former elementary teacher who writes and edits books, has written a series titled “Continents of the World.”   Small amounts of general information and gorgeous photos are paired to give a glimpse into each part of our world.    Again, just enough information is provided.    


When I started working here in 1991 (insert surprised emoji) I remember that our juvenile nonfiction was dated and not very attractive. Illustrations were often black and white.   A lot of books sat on the shelf for years without being checked out.   Our juvenile nonfiction   today is attractive, up to date, and books seem to fly off the shelves.  Many children get impatient with fiction and like to learn about real places, people, and animals.  Many books now include information for further reading.  Websites are suggested for further exploration and full-color photographs are now the norm.  It’s a good time to be alive and reading!


Friday, October 19, 2018

Reading about Laura Ingalls Wilder

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Minnesotans love Laura Ingalls Wilder.  She was a Minnesotan for part of her childhood, so On the Banks of Plum Creek is set here.  Personally, I love the window into history that Laura’s well-written children’s books give us. 

 Pioneerland libraries are bringing in a Laura Ingalls Wilder interactive history performer between late October and Thanksgiving.  Historian Melanie Stringer acts the part of Laura in the mid-1890s, when she, Almanzo, and their young daughter Rose had settled on Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri.  Stringer has studied Wilder extensively, and she travels the country presenting Laura as she might have been after she had lived through the events in her books but before she became a writer.

The programs in Meeker County are happening in early November.  Our first “Meet Laura Ingalls Wilder” program will be in the community room behind the Grove City Library on Friday, November 2, at 6:00 p.m.  The event at the Litchfield Library will be on Wednesday, November 7, at 6:00 p.m.  Cosmos Library hosts its program in the community room next to the library on Thursday, November 8, at 10:00 a.m.  And Dassel Library’s program will be held upstairs at the Dassel History Center and Ergot Museum at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 10.  All are free to attend, funded with assistance from the Clean Water, Land, & Legacy Amendment, and there’s no need to sign up.

So what can you check out at the library if you want to learn more about Laura before or after the events?  We have many things to choose from.  We have the Little House series itself in the children’s department, including some in audiobook format – good for a family road trip.

The library has the recent adult novel Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller.  This popular book imagines the story of the Ingalls family from the perspective of Ma Ingalls.  If you’ve ever thought about what Caroline must have gone through every time Charles decided to move the family, this may be a book you’d enjoy.

The recent non-fiction book for adults, The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired the Little House Books, takes a nature-focused approach to understanding the series.  Author Marta McDowell deeply researched the locations featured in the novels, and she details the landscapes, wild plants, and gardens from each place.  The book is full of illustrations and maps. 

Caroline Fraser won the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Biography for her book Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder.  This comprehensive historical biography of Wilder is based on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records.  Fraser demonstrates that Wilder’s life was even more difficult than her books show, despite the hardships they describe.

I just finished reading Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, the bestselling book that the South Dakota Historical Society published in 2014.  It was Wilder’s first crack at writing down her life story, and it demonstrated to me how good she was as a novelist.  As she revised the stories multiple times, Wilder fictionalized some characters and events, and she made her word choices more vivid, which made the novels suspenseful and moving.  This scholarly book also makes it clear that Laura wrote the books and had good instincts for them, and her daughter Rose did not.

If you are enthusiastic about Laura like I am, or if you just want to learn more about the realities of pioneer history, come to one of our programs.  If none of the dates in our county work for you, check out the whole Pioneerland schedule on our website, because Melanie will be performing in Hutchinson, Atwater, and in many other communities in the region. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Chick Lit or Women's Fiction?

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Fiction written for and by women gets classified in interesting ways.  In the ‘90s, the term “chick lit” became popular, much like the movie term “chick flick.”  Books like Bridget Jones’s Diary defined the new genre, which was generally written for women and featured young adult female main characters in the present day, struggling with careers and relationships. 

After a while, people began to question the term: did it apply to every novel written by a woman with a female main character?  Did it apply if the focus of the novel was mainly about a woman’s relationships with other people? Or if it was about finding success in a career and romantic love? Or whether the book was produced mostly as lightweight entertainment?  I’ve noticed that the term has been used less and less in the past ten years.

There’s also the term “women’s fiction.”  This is a less flippant name, and it sometimes is used interchangeably with “chick lit,” but it tends to be a broader term meaning books written about women for an intended female audience, mostly by female authors.  The Women’s Fiction Writers Association defines women’s fiction as a story in which the plot is driven by the female main character’s emotional journey.  They say these are layered stories about one or several characters, often multiple generations; the adult character struggles with world issues, which results in emotional growth; and, while it can include romantic elements, the plot is not driven by romance. 

There are concerns about whether classifying a book as women’s fiction means that it’s taken less seriously, and whether most female-centered books get slotted into this category even though they may be high-quality literature that could appeal to men or women.  There’s no equivalent term for books geared to men.

Regardless of this debate, women’s fiction remains a name for a general style of books.  If you like to read about women “on the brink of life change and personal growth,” which is part of the Romance Writers of America’s definition of women’s fiction, the library has some new books that may appeal to you.

Jodi Picoult is always a popular author.  Her new book A Spark of Light just came out in early October.  The novel is set during a hostage crisis at a women’s reproductive health services clinic, and it works backward in time to show the events that brought each of the characters to that place.  The hostage negotiator arrives at the scene and discovers that his teenage daughter is inside.  An undercover protester finds herself held at gunpoint by a man who shares her views on abortion.  Picoult is known for writing about the human side of controversial topics. 

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel is the story of four young musicians who form a string quartet and, because of the friendship that develops, become a family.  They experience success and failure, as well as heartbreak, marriage, and parenthood.  Reviewers have praised the way the characters seem so real.

The Late Bloomers Club by Louise Miller sounds like a perfect gentle small town novel.  The owner of the Miss Guthrie Diner and her free-spirited filmmaker sister have been left a beautiful farmhouse and land by a beloved resident of the community, but they find out their benefactor was in the process of selling her land to a big-box store developer before she died.  The sisters weigh out what would be best for the town as their neighbors freely share their opinions on the matter.  And then one sister starts to fall for the store’s rep when he comes to town.

Fiction is good for helping us have compassion for others, and women’s fiction is especially concerned with that.  May we all find ways to imagine the challenges that other people face and do some growing of our own as we read good books.

Friday, October 12, 2018

This 'n That!

By Jan Pease

I’m writing after story time on Friday.  More boys than girls came today, and they were so much fun.  Our story, “The Starry Giraffe,” featured an apple-picking giraffe who shares her apples with everyone, including a tiny green inch worm.  So we made apples by gluing tissue paper on an apple outline, and added little green pompoms and eyes to finish out the picture by adding an inchworm or caterpillar.  It was a fun book and project.

I’ve been buying nonfiction juvenile books again.  They tend to be bright and colorful, with not much text but wonderful pictures.  Watch for books about North American animals and birds, as well as some great math concept books. 

It’s almost Christmas, so the books that make great gifts are arriving.  One, by the famous author of  “The Book Thief,” Markus Zusak, is titled “Bridge of Clay.”  This book is long: 544 pages and the print isn’t large.  My first thought on skimming through the book was that this is pushing the YA label.  This story of five brothers raising themselves is receiving remarkable reviews.    I visited Mr. Zusak’s website and looked through the book, but I’ll have to read it to really understand it.

Cressida Cowell is known for her “How to Train Your Dragon” series, but she has started a new series that looks like a winner, “The Wizards of Once.”  Ms. Cowell writes and illustrates her books which many writers wish they could manage, but seldom do.   The second book in the series, “Twice Magic,” continues the story of a boy wizard named Xar and a fierce girl warrior named Wish who live in a world of danger and magic.  As I skimmed the book, I fell in love with the talking lynxes  and a spoon that pretends to be dead.

Kathryn Lasky became a New York Times bestselling author with her “Guardians of Ga’Hoole” series.  Now she’s writing an epic animal fantasy,  “Bears of the Ice.”   The first book was “Quest of the Cubs,” and now “The Den of Forever Frost” has been published.  Can Ms. Lasky do for polar bears what she did for owls, wolves, and horses? (She also wrote the “Wolves of Beyond” and “Horses of the Dawn” series.)

James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein have been friends for many years and have collaborated on several books, “Treasure Hunters,” “I Funny” and “House of Robots.  I suspect that Mr. Patterson comes up with plots and Mr. Grabenstein adds hilarious characters, dialogue, and action. “Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment,” reminds me of “The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee  Stewart, but with more humor.    A group of super intelligent kids is recruited to help a mysterious, but “good guy” organization  solve the world’s problems using science.    Of course, there also mysterious, evil bad guys to contend with.  What would Albert Einstein do?

Finally, I have to mention some of the cutest board books ever seen, the Rookie Toddler board books from Scholastic.  These colorful little books each have a theme, such as “Listen to the Rain,” or “Mixed Up Animal Sounds.”   Each book also has an animal or toy hidden on the sturdy pages, as well as story time tips for parents.  I love these little books!  See you at the library! 

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Fall fiction

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Fall can bring with it a desire to dive into a good book.  Maybe it’s because we got used to hitting the books again when the school year started, or maybe now that we’re past Labor Day life has settled down a little.  Then again, maybe you're like me and all of your meetings and activities and everything have started up again now that it’s September… That happens, too!  In any case, whenever you’re looking for a new novel, the library always has something new for you to read.  Here are a few highlights from our latest additions:

Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a debut novel by Ingrid Rojas Contreras, an award-winning essayist and short story writer; she is also a regular contributor for an NPR station in California. The novel is fiction inspired by real events in Contreras’ childhood in Columbia.  Set during the violent time in the ‘90s when drug lord Pablo Escobar was in power, this is the story of a 7-year-old girl who lives in a gated community in Bogotá, and of her family’s teenage maid from the slums, told from alternating perspectives.  When the author was a child, her mother received kidnapping threats, and a girl who worked for them was coerced into acting on that but didn’t go through with it.  This novel imagines what could have happened.

The tremendous popularity of the movie Crazy Rich Asians has gotten people reading the book by the same title that it’s based on.  Our library has had that book and its sequel, China Rich Girlfriend since they came out, but I’ve just added the third one in the trilogy, Rich People Problems.  Author Kevin Kwan has written a funny, soapy series that readers love to read for light entertainment.  In this installment, the whole Shang-Young family has arrived at the deathbed of the grandmother who owns a 64-acre estate in the middle of Singapore, in hopes of gaining a fortune for themselves.

Another book about rich families in China, What We Were Promised takes a serious tone with issues of loyalties, secrets, and ambition.  The Zhen family went from a rural Chinese village to the U.S. to chase the American dream.  Now they have returned to live in a luxurious Shanghai apartment among a community of Western-educated professionals, but a brother who chose a criminal path rejoins them and turns things upside-down.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is an unusual, dark novel by Ottessa Moshfegh.  A privileged but unhappy young woman lives in New York City in the year 2000, and she decides to take a year off to sleep.  She doesn’t need money because she inherited all she needs from her parents, and she has relationships with only two people, a terrible Wall Street boyfriend and a toxic best friend.  Her quack psychiatrist prescribes all the drugs she needs to live in a state of near-hibernation.  The novel is described as an insightful internal monologue by a witty, self-destructive person. 

The Shortest Way Home is a feel-good novel by Miriam Parker.  Grad student Hannah is on the verge of her life after school, which will involve starting a high-paying job in New York and getting engaged to her boyfriend, when the two of them take a trip to Sonoma.  She is offered a marketing job at a family-run winery there, and she decides to change all of her life plans while she has the chance.  It’s a romance as well as a story about figuring out the difference between what you want and what others want for you.

Personally, I’ve been reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Where’d You Go, Bernadette for two book clubs lately, and I’ve been absorbed by both.  Those are both a little bit older, which works well for getting enough copies for a book club without a wait.  Whether you check out something old or new, I hope you find a book that you don’t want to put down.