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.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Treat Yourself to a Scary Book

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Halloween is almost here, so it’s time for some scary books.  This could mean mysteries, crime thrillers, ghost stories, vampire novels, or anything spooky or frightening.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have a new book out that’s pretty scary.  Old Bones features a young archaeologist who is asked to lead a team in search of the supposed “Lost Camp” of the Donner Party, the notorious pioneers who descended to cannibalism when trapped in the mountains.  As the members of the expedition excavate the site, they discover even more shocking details, and they find their own lives at risk.  Characters Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson spin off of a previous Preston and Child book series in this start of a new series.

For some Victorian crime atmosphere (think gas lamps and fog), you can pick up Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Anna Waterhouse.  Set before Sherlock Holmes meets Dr. Watson, this mystery finds Sherlock helping his brother investigate a serial killer who has killed a distant relative of Queen Victoria.  This is the third in the Mycroft series by NBA star Abdul-Jabbar, all of which have gotten good reviews.

Zombies are good Halloween subject matter.  The new novel Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff features a post-apocalyptic Ireland overrun by zombies called the skrake. A young woman named Orpen has been raised on a small, safe island off of the coast, living only with her mother and her mother’s partner.  She wishes to go to the mainland and meet other survivors despite the risk of the skrake, and when disaster strikes her island, she has no choice but to cross the water and prepare to fight for her life.

If serial killers are more your thing, look for The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup, a Danish television and film writer.  It’s Scandinavian noir, along the lines of Steig Larsson and Jo Nesbo.  A psychopath is leaving a doll fashioned from chestnuts at the scene of each murder, and a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to find the murderer.  Netflix is developing the novel into an original series.

Minnesota mystery author Ellen Hart writes the long-running Jane Lawless series.  Installment #26 is the newest book: Twisted at the Root.  A widower’s family contacts Jane for help proving he was wrongly accused of murdering his husband, and Jane finds that her missing brother was involved in the trial.  Reviewers have praised the fully-realized characters and the ramped-up creepiness of the plot. 

Have you tried an escape room?  The novel The Escape Room by Megan Goldin takes the idea to a terrifying level.  Four Wall Street financiers are ordered to participate in a corporate team-building exercise in an escape room that turns out to be a tense game of survival. Kirkus Reviews says, “Cancel all your plans and call in sick; once you start reading, you’ll be caught in your own escape room.”

Dean Koontz is well-known for creepy books.  His newest novel is The Night Window, the last in his Jane Hawk series.  Jane is a rogue FBI agent with a mission to take down the powerful people trying to control America through an army of mind-altered people.  Reviewers say this is best book in the series, carefully plotted and entertaining.

If you like a book that will scare you one way or another, the Litchfield Library offers plenty of choices. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Silly, Scary and Interesting!

By Jan Pease

New books: be on the lookout for these interesting titles!

Sometimes a book just resonates with you.  Sometimes an author surprises you.  Eoin Colfer has accomplished that in his new book, “The Dog Who Lost His Bark.”  Mr. Colfer usually writes suspenseful, humorous stories like the “Artemis Fowl” series.  “The Dog Who Lost His Bark” is a sweet story that is beautifully illustrated.  Although it touches on some heavy subjects like abuse and abandonment, things work out in the end.   I was interested in this book because I re-homed a tiny little dog that had been debarked.  She has about half a bark, and it’s surprising what a difference that makes in her vocalizations.  If you’d like to see a clip of her bowing and grinning, visit my Facebook page.  Go to and type Jan Pease in the search bar.

Another beautifully illustrated book was just published by Patricia MacLachlan, “The Hundred-Year Barn.”  Ms. MacLachlan is an award-winning author, and illustrator Kenard Pak is an award-winning artist and animator.  This book is just lovely.  It captures the feeling of generations living on a farm  
throughout many seasons.

I love koalas.  Actually, I like to watch animal and veterinary shows on PBS, National Geographic Wild, National Geographic, and Animal Planet, to the despair of family members who prefer “something with a plot.”  “Don’t Call Me Bear!” is a funny book written by Aaron Blabey that tells the story of a koala who resents being called a bear.  As in “koala bear,” which is what most of us call this adorable marsupial.  The Koala says, “G’day my name is Warren and I’ve got something to share…Just because I’m furry DOESN’T MEAN THAT I’M A BEAR!” 

“Bruce’s Big Storm,” by Ryan T. Higgins, is another grumpy animal story.  This is the new book in the “Mother Bruce” series.  Instead of Mother Goose, we have Mother Bruce, who raises a family of  baby geese.  In “Bruce’s Big Storm,” Bruce gives shelter to his animal friends and ends up with a very full house in spite of his grumpiness.

Just in time for Halloween, the library has received two very silly “scary” books.  “Giracula,” by   Hide your pies and cakes!  “The Curse of the Werepenguin,” by Allan Woodrow, is written for slightly older but still silly readers.  A boy named Bolt visits a baron who claims to be a distant relative but seems to be a twelve-year-old boy who wears tuxedos and shouts at people all the time.  When Bolt is bitten by the baron, he turns into a half-boy, half-penguin creature.  And it only gets worse from there.

Caroline Watkins, is about a vampire giraffe that has a taste for sweets.

 These sentimental, interesting and silly books are waiting for you at Litchfield Library.  See you there!

Puzzling out library shelf space

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

We’ve been playing musical chairs with some of the book collections at the Litchfield library lately. Shelf space is always tight, so we look for creative ways to make room for everything, especially the most popular things.  I’ll give you an explanation of where to look for the collections that have been moved, in hopes that fewer people will be lost while looking for their favorite books.

The library’s large print book collection is well-used, and it hasn’t been in the most user-friendly spot for the past few years: on low shelves behind the computers.  You’ll find the large print books now on full-height shelves along the back wall of the library, behind the regular adult fiction.  We even managed to keep them up off of the bottom shelf, for less bending to reach books. 

You’ll find the adult paperback collection now on the short shelves where the large print books had been.  This places them in a more visible spot, instead of hiding in the back corner of the library.
In the coming weeks, we’ll move the reference books to the tall shelf behind the paperbacks.  We don’t have many reference books anymore, but sometimes people need to consult things like a book of quotations, a concordance, or a dictionary. We keep a small selection of these books in the library without making them available for check out.  

The oversized books will move along with reference; these are unusually tall books that don’t fit on regular library shelves.  Moving both of those will give the adult nonfiction section just a bit more room.

All of this rearranging has happened along with removing books that haven’t been checked out in a few years, the difficult but necessary thing that must happen in order for the library to add newly published books.  The public will have an opportunity to buy some of these, among all of the books offered at the Friends of the Library book sale on Saturday, November 16.

So if you go looking for the large print books or the paperbacks, what kinds of things might you find?  The Litchfield library gets two westerns, two mysteries, and two books that can be described as “gentle reads” in large print automatically every month.  We’ve found that our large print readers especially like those kinds of books. 

We also get some of the most in-demand titles in large print as they are needed.  For example, the library has “Searching for Syvlie Lee” by Jean Kwok, a Chinese-American family drama about a woman who goes missing in the Netherlands and her sister who goes looking for her, discovering family secrets in the process.

One of our most recent large print westerns is “Hang Them Slowly” by William W. Johnstone with J. A. Johnstone.  William Johnstone died in 2004, but his niece is continuing his popular series.  This new addition to the Range Detectives series finds two undercover detectives posing as cowboys getting caught up in a Montana range war.

As far as paperbacks, one of the newest additions is “The Wallflower Wager” by Tessa Dare.  The latest in Dare’s “Girl Meets Duke” regency romance series features an aristocratic spinster who rescues every lost or wounded animal she finds.  Her “wealthy and ruthless” new neighbor insists she get rid of the menagerie, so she enlists him to find homes for the creatures. 

You can find little paperback or big large-print editions of many books at the library.  If Litchfield Library doesn’t have the format you want, ask staff to find out for you whether the publisher has printed that kind of edition and if we can order it from another library.  As always, there’s no charge to request books from other libraries throughout Minnesota.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Meet Mary Poppins and Bert

Wind's in the east...  Bring the kids to Litchfield Library on Thursday, October 10, at 4 p.m. for a brief Mary Poppins storytime.  Mary Poppins and Bert will blow in for a meet and greet and to read the Mary Poppins picture book. 

Featuring the cast of Litchfield High School's fall musical, Mary Poppins.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Parents, it's Up to You!

By Jan Pease

Why did an estimated 27% of Minnesota’s five-year-old children enter Kindergarten unprepared?   I tend to focus on that number, but that also means that 73% of our kids did enter Kindergarten ready to learn.  Since I began working here in 1991, that number has been about the same:  roughly one quarter of the children entering Kindergarten are not ready for the experience of school. 

For several years I’ve been a partner of Read, an organization that encourages parents to read to their children: “Every child. Every parent. Every day.”  Their Read Aloud Toolkit gives a lot of information about this subject, and I’ve borrowed a lot of that information for this essay.  According to, the single most important thing we can do to help our children learn and develop is reading aloud to them.  Children are born with about 100 billion neurons in their brains.  By age three there will be about 1,000 trillion connections between them.  Reading, talking and singing to children builds these connections.
At Litchfield Library, we have discussed trying the 1000 Books before Kindergarten program, which involves record keeping and prizes.  I’ll leave that for my successor to implement.  Someday. 

For now, I encourage families to read 15 minutes each day, just as regular as tooth brushing is in most families. According to the Read Aloud Tool Kit, “only 48% of children in this country are read to each day.”

If you read just 15 minutes a day to your child, for 5 years, that adds up to 27,375 minutes.  I can easily read a picture book in 15 minutes, even with talking and asking questions about the book.  That number of minutes would equal 1,825 books.  That’s a lot of books!

That leads me to another point.  Reading isn’t passive.  To draw your child into the story, ask questions.  If a book is about fall, ask, “what colors do you see?”  and “why do some trees lose leaves and others don’t?”  If you’re outside, even without a book, look up at the clouds. Ask, “what’s in the sky?”  or “what  does that cloud look like to you?”  “What kind of cloud is that?”  Or from October first on, “is that a snow cloud?”  

A final point: it’s so important to talk, read, and sing to small children.  In 1995 a book was published   about an important study of how much parents interact with their children. The title is “Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children,” by Betty Hart Ph.D and Todd R. Risley, Ph.D. It is available through and

A newer study by Jill Gilkerson, Ph.D and Jeffrey A. Richard, MA is found in their book, “The Power of Talk: The Impact of Adult Talk, Conversational Turns, and TV during the Critical 0-4 years of Child Development.”  This was published in 2009, but I haven’t found a copy of it, although articles by Jill Gilkerson, Ph.D are available through Both studies showed that the number of words young children are exposed to has a direct impact on school and life success.

I had a delightful time interacting with a 15 month old child who is just starting to talk.  She climbed on a couch, and we quickly made up a game of pretending she was asleep and waking up.  So fun.  So important.  See you at the library!