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, December 21, 2018

The Week Between

By Jan Pease

It’s time to catch our breath before the New Year comes.  This is the week between.  I start noticing the change in light just after New Year’s, because I’m really sensitive to Seasonal Affective Disorder.  In the jungle that is our middle room, a tree is yearning and stretching toward the west.  One orchid is blooming, gloriously. The asparagus fern is sending out long, shoots, indiscriminately.  I wonder if it is drawn toward our SAD light, or maybe the last rays of sunlight as the sun sets.   Anyway, they know that more light will come our way, even if skies are gray or the cold is bitter.

Sometimes we make resolutions for the next year.  Mine are pretty simple.  I hope that I will be kind.  I hope to encourage rather than complain.  I will try to be generous with my time and resources.  I will try to be gentle with myself.  I will work harder at being healthy. 


Two gentle picture books come to my mind when I think about this time of year.  One is “Stranger in the Woods” by Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick.  Mr. Sams and Ms. Stoick set up a snowman in the woods, took stunning photographs of wildlife interacting with it, and turned it all into a lovely picture book. Their books have won more than 80 awards.   I recommend that you sit in a cozy chair with a cup of something warm to drink, preferably with a child or cat in your lap, and absorb the beauty of these photographs.

Another book, “The Christmas Wish,” by Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen, has stunning photographs of their   4 year old daughter Anja wearing traditional Norwegian clothing and Sami reindeer shoes, interacting with Arctic animals.  They have since developed a line of “Wish” books and products, but this first book is simply amazing.  I believe its title in Norway was “The Christmas Dream.”  

There is just something magical about snowy woods.  One of my favorite parenting memories is of taking our daughter and two of her friends out to Youngstrom Woods during a rare January thaw.  The girls were sure they were lost, but I could always hear them.  The stillness of the woods was breathtaking, even with the giggling girls traipsing through the snow.

 I’m a fan of “Star Trek: Enterprise.  A favorite episode has brash Captain Archer chide an older, wiser alien, Captain Drennig, about his culture not visiting planet Earth:  “I’m surprised your ancestors never made it to Earth.” Captain Drennig says, “We don’t believe in travelling great distances.  There’s far too much to see close to home.”    Like the fictional Captain Drennig, I find wonder in our own back yard.  Catch your breath, put on some quiet music, and enjoy hearing Nature breathe in and out as one year closes and another year starts.  Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Grownups, Find Some Christmas Cheer at the Library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield Head Librarian

It’s the holiday season!  Pioneerland libraries will be closed on Monday, December 24, and Tuesday, December 25, for Christmas.  The following week, we will be closing at 5 p.m. on Monday, December 31, and we will be closed on Tuesday, January 1, for New Year’s.  Otherwise the hours will be normal all of the other days.

Christmas books, movies, and music are always in demand this time of year.  We’ve got some new additions for grownups available.

12 Days at Bleakly Manor is an inspirational mystery that we just got in large print.  Author Michelle Griep launched a series called “Once Upon a Dickens Christmas” with this novel.  Set in England in 1851, this story is set up when guests receive mysterious invitations to spend Christmas at a manor home and are promised a substantial sum of money if they stay the entire twelve days.  A formerly engaged couple finds they are both among the guests.

Deck the Hounds is the latest Andy Carpenter novel by David Rosenfelt, but apparently it can be enjoyed even if you haven’t read any of the others.  Criminal defense lawyer Andy gives a homeless man with a dog some money, then later learns that the dog is quarantined for biting someone who attacked them.  Andy and his wife give them a place to stay at Christmas, and Andy’s legal services come in handy when the homeless vet is accused of a crime.  This sweet Christmas mystery is recommended for animal lovers. 

Yet another cozy Christmas mystery, Lark! The Herald AngelsSing is part of the Meg Langslow series by Donna Andrews.  Meg discovers a live baby in the manger while directing a nativity pageant.  A note suggests that the baby’s father is Meg’s brother, and Meg sets out to find out who the baby’s parents actually are.  Along with the mystery aspect of the story, this is a funny and heartwarming novel.

Some of our other new Christmas novels include Six Cats a Slayin’ by Miranda James, Christmas on the Island by Jenny Colgan, The Christmas Star by Donna VanLiere, and A True Cowboy Christmas by Caitlin Crews.

Don’t forget the Christmas DVDs:  Christmas in the Air is a Hallmark Christmas movie that has just been added to our collection.  Those seem to be more popular all the time!  Catherine Bell stars as a professional organizer who is hired by a frazzled widower with two young children.  He’s a toy inventor who has twelve days to get his life and business in order before pitching his new products.  It sounds like it has exactly the kind of opposites-attract, gentle romance you expect from a Hallmark Christmas movie.

Do you remember Pat Boone’s holiday specials on TV in the ‘70s?  Two of them have just been released on the DVD Pat Boone and Family: Christmas and Thanksgiving Specials.  You get the whole Boone family, plus Dinah Shore, Rosemary Clooney, Tom Bosley, and other stars from years ago.  Now, if they would just release the John Denver and the Muppets Christmas special from the ‘70s, I’d be really happy.

Whether it’s a music CD, a movie, or a book for kids or adults, our library has a huge number of holiday items available to check out.  Pick up a cookbook of party recipes for New Year’s Eve while you’re here, too!  Have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Thanksgiving Movies at the Library

Library column for 11/21/18
by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

“Come, ye thankful people, come, Raise the song of harvest-home; All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin.”  This Thanksgiving hymn by Henry Alford was written in 1844, but here in rural Minnesota we still understand the importance of bringing in the harvest before winter begins.  My neighbors were working hard at that in the little bit of warm weather we had lately.

The Litchfield Library, along with all Pioneerland libraries, will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving.  We’ll be open normal hours the rest of the week.  As you gather with family and friends, or as you have a quiet day at home, perhaps you’d like to have a Thanksgiving movie on hand to watch after you’re done eating turkey.  There are a number of movies in the Litchfield Library collection that have some connection to the holiday.

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is the obvious choice if you have children in the house.  Not as good as A Charlie Brown Christmas or It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, this 25-minute TV special from 1973 is still fun.  Charlie Brown has a predicament: what to do when his pushy friend Peppermint Patty invites herself and others to his house for Thanksgiving dinner, even though his family is going to be leaving for his grandmother’s house?  Snoopy saves the day with an assortment of snacks served on the ping-pong table.  To be like Charlie Brown, my family usually eats popcorn, pretzels, toast, and jelly beans on Thanksgiving night, a tradition we started when my kids were little.

Intended for a bit older audience than Charlie Brown, Pieces of April is a 2003 movie about a free-spirited 21-year-old attempting to make Thanksgiving dinner for her estranged family.  Her parents, siblings, and grandma drive to New York City from suburban Pennsylvania while April discovers her oven doesn’t work, and she turns to her eccentric neighbors for help.  Katie Holmes stars in this comedy about family dysfunction; critics say it’s endearing, if a little edgy.

Holiday Inn is one of those 1940s classics: Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and music by Irving Berlin.  A couple of friends who have left show business run an inn that is open only on holidays – a perfect vehicle for a movie full of holiday-themed musical numbers.  There is a Thanksgiving holiday in the movie, and the Christmas scenes include the song “White Christmas,” so you can start to get in that holiday spirit, as well.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop isn’t a favorite of movie critics, but you might get some laughs out of it anyway.  Kevin James stars in a story about a New Jersey security guard who defends a mall from a group of organized criminals who take shoppers hostage on Black Friday.

Do you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thanksgiving morning?  The movie Miracle on 34th Street begins with the parade, where the actor playing Santa is discovered to be drunk and is switched with a very popular replacement.  The replacement is then hired to work as Santa in the store, but things take a turn when he claims to be the real Santa Claus.  The 1947 version, starring Maureen O’Hara and Natalie Wood, won three Oscars.

I am thankful for all of the library users and supporters in our area who help make our library a hub of the community. I wish you and yours a peaceful and bountiful Thanksgiving Day. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Sometimes Books Go Viral Too!

By Jan Pease

Santa visited the library Thursday night for one of the best family events of the year.  He held babies, talked seriously to children about getting along with their siblings, and was kind to our kids who have a hard time talking to people outside of the family.  I have no idea how many people came, because I forgot to use my little clicker.  I estimate about 150 or so.   Children were able to choose a book, make a countdown paper chain, and decorate a wooden ornament with glitter glue. 

Thank you, Friends of the Litchfield Library, for sponsoring this fun event.

Beth wrote last week about the best of lists for adult books.  I watched an older children’s book suddenly “go viral” throughout the world thanks to social media.  A video of a Scottish grandmother laughing hysterically while reading “The Wonky Donkey,” by Craig Smith, a teacher in New Zealand,   went viral on YouTube and Facebook about 12 weeks ago.    

Suddenly everyone in the U.S. wanted to read “The Wonky Donkey.”    Used and new paper back copies of this little book were offered at ridiculous prices in the hundreds of dollars.    Scholastic Inc reprinted the book and offered it on their book order for around five dollars.  Miss Julie from Mighty Dragons Preschool was able to purchase several copies from Scholastic and she allowed me to get one while the excitement was still at a high level.  Now the book is offered at the more reasonable price of about $5.00. 

This is a silly book, but it has become controversial.  This is another book that people either like or hate. Read the reviews at   The poor donkey has an artificial leg. Should we really call him wonky because of that?  Another disturbing image in the book is a bird that flies around carrying the eye lost by the donkey.  So he’s a winky wonky donkey.  Some people found Mr. Smith’s humor offensive, some didn’t.  I cringe while writing this, but even though I find the humor a bit off, I have read it aloud several times, and enjoyed it immensely.    It’s been interesting to watch the price skyrocket due to demand and then plummet when paperback copies flooded the market.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling. .  This series rocked the  world of children’s publishing and then it was discovered by adults. The books became with longer and longer and movies were made of each title.  

2018 also marked the 33rd Anniversary of The Polar Express, a favorite Christmas time book that  I’ve never successfully read at Story Time because it makes me cry.

2018 also was the 75th anniversary of the Boxcar Children. Even though new titles are issued each month, children seem to prefer the original books written by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Whether you choose a book at the top of the charts, or choose a time-honored book that has been read by generations of children, I hope you’ll give a gift of reading this Christmas. 

See you at the library!  

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

2018's Best Books

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

It’s that time of year when the lists of the best books of the year come out, most of them before December 1st.  I suppose they are published so early so that you can use them as guides for buying Christmas gifts.  As a person who orders books for four libraries all year long, I love to compare these lists to the choices I’ve made, as well as to each other; in the end, there’s not much consensus on what’s really the best.  It is fun to see which books end up on multiple lists, though – there must be something great about them!

The one book that I keep seeing on one list after another is Educated by Tara Westover.  Amazon named it the best book of 2018.  Most places don’t choose just one top book, but the memoir also ended up on the New York Times, Time Magazine, Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Publishers Weekly, Reader’s Digest, Library Journal, and NPR lists of the best books of the year, often on their top ten.  I think I’m going to have to read this one with the adult book club once it isn’t being checked out constantly.  It has been one of our library system’s most popular books this year.

In her memoir, Westover tells the story of growing up in a survivalist family in the mountains of Idaho.  She was so isolated that she didn’t get an education, but she taught herself enough math and grammar to be admitted to college, which was a path out of her dysfunctional family.  She eventually earned a PhD from Cambridge University, completely changing her life.

The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border is another memoir that is appearing on multiple best-of lists.  Author Francisco Cantรบ is the grandson of a Mexican immigrant, the son of a park ranger in the American Southwest, and himself a former Border Patrol agent.  He found the Border Patrol work dehumanizing and left it, but when an immigrant friend disappeared after traveling to Mexico to visit family, he found himself needing to find out more about what happened.  Reviewers describe the writing as no-nonsense but beautiful. The subject of the book is certainly very timely.

There There by Tommy Orange is making the cut for many end-of-the-year lists.  This novel is about urban Native Americans attending the Big Oakland Powwow in Oakland, California.  Orange reveals the reasons each character is attending: to reconnect with family after getting sober, to honor a loved one’s memory, to watch a relative perform, and to perform for the first time after learning the dance on YouTube.  Reviews of the book include words like “masterful,” “groundbreaking,” and “devastating.”  Orange is a professor and an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma; this is his first novel.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup is a nonfiction book that’s appearing on many of the year-end lists.  Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou originally broke the story of the fraud that was being committed by the company Theranos.  He and the newspaper were threatened with lawsuits but they continued to investigate what turned out to be the biggest corporate fraud since Enron: founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was lying to investors and the FDA, raising billions of dollars of investment capital for a technology that didn’t work.  Carreyrou tells the whole story in this book.

These books are available at the Litchfield Library, along with many others you may see on gift guides and best-of-2018 lists.