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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Oscar-winning movies at the library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The Oscars did their thing last week, mostly as expected but with a few surprises.  The Academy’s voters have their preferences for what they celebrate, and any of us might disagree for a wide variety of reasons. (My personal take: Frozen II and Little Women deserved better.) In any case, all of the winners and nominees are well-made movies on some level, and they spark conversations.  Find out what the discussion is about by checking out some of them at your local library.

The Best Actress Oscar went to Renee Zellweger for her performance as Judy Garland in the movie Judy, which is available to check out at the Litchfield Library and 17 other locations in Pioneerland Library System. This is her second Oscar; her first was for Supporting Actress in Cold Mountain.  Reviewers generally said that the movie itself isn’t amazing but Zellweger’s performance is. She plays the beloved entertainer in 1968 as Garland performs a series of sold-out concerts, fights with management, begins a romance with her fifth husband, and struggles with anxiety and health problems.

Brad Pitt snagged a Best Supporting Actor Oscar this year for his performance in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, available on DVD at the Litchfield Library and 22 other libraries in our system.  The film also won the Oscar for production design with its late 1960s setting.  Pitt plays a stuntman and friend to a faded television star who is trying to make it in the film industry.  This Quentin Tarantino movie places fictional people like Pitt’s character next to real-life people like actress Sharon Tate, played by Margot Robbie, and imagines how history could have gone differently.  This was Pitt’s second Oscar but his first for acting; his other Oscar was for producing 12 Years a Slave.

Toy Story 4 won the award for Best Animated Feature, as Toy Story 3 did nine years ago.  The series seemed to have ended with that third movie, but movie reviewers say this is the heartwarming sequel no one knew they needed.  Woody’s new kid Bonnie makes a toy out of a fork, but Forky calls himself “trash” instead of a toy.  This lively, beautifully-animated film addresses issues of finding your purpose and accepting mortality. You can check out Litchfield Library’s copy or borrow one from 21 other libraries.

The award for Best Original Song went to Elton John and Bernie Taupin for “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again” from Rocketman. This biopic includes elements of musical fantasy as it dramatizes the highs and lows of Elton John’s life story using his songs, complete with choreographed numbers. The Rocketman DVD is available to check out at Litchfield Library and 18 other locations.

Some of the other winners are available to order through the Pioneerland catalog, even though they haven’t yet made it to the shelf at our local library.  Parasite was this year’s big winner, coming away with Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Feature Film, and Best Original Screenplay.  Bong Joon Ho wrote, directed, and produced this South Korean film about two families that develop a symbiotic (or parasitic) relationship: the wealthy Parks and their modern-day servants, the Kims.  This DVD is currently available in two libraries, but more copies will be coming.

Two more Oscar-winning movies are currently available to order in Pioneerland.  Joaquin Phoenix won Best Actor for his performance in Joker, an origin story for a character familiar from the Batman comics and movies.  The film also won the award for original score.  Ford v Ferrari won the awards for film editing and sound editing, dramatizing the true story of the Ford Motor Company’s quest to develop a race car to take on the Ferrari in automobile racing in 1966.

More of this year’s winners and nominees will become available as they are released on DVD, so check the catalog and the shelves in the coming months for the movies you are curious to see.

Friday, February 21, 2020

A Peek at New Nonfiction

By Jan Pease

 Disappearing bees provide part of the plotline in one of my favorite episodes of “Doctor Who,”  “The Stolen Earth,” the 750th episode of the incredibly long-lived British science fiction tv show.  A world without bees is unthinkable.  A new book, “Beehive,” by Jorey Hurley, provides information for very young children about bees.  This book is a good way to counteract scary stories about bees, which are often mistaken for yellow jackets.

What do you want to be when you grow up?  My answer is wise, kind, and good.  But the question really asks, “How do you want to make your living when you grow up?”  If you’re lucky, you will find something you love to do and take it from there.  This is the idea behind the book, “If you love cooking, you could be…” Different jobs in the food industry are described, such as cook, chef, recipe developer, and food stylist.  I think it’s interesting that the author, Elizabeth Dennis, explains the difference between a cook and a chef.   This book is unique because it’s a ready-to-read, level two book, perfect for beginning readers. 


A new picture book, “Veterinarians and what they do,” by Liesbet Slegers, is another career book on a very easy level.   Veterinary medicine is a very complicated field. My daughter used to wear a funny t-shirt that said, “Real doctors treat more than one species.”
I wonder if “Veterinarians and what they do” will inspire a new crop of very young people inspired to become doctors for animals.

Litchfield Library invested in two titles from National Geographic.  We purchased new copies of the “National Geographic Kids Atlas” and “National Geographic Kids Almanac.“  These books are easy to navigate and provide bits of solid information.  Sometimes you just need an almanac or an atlas, so
sometimes we just have to replace old ones.

Half a century ago, when I was a teenager, two complaints were made about my music.  One was, “It’s too loud! Turn it down!”    The other complaint was, “I can’t understand the words!”  A wonderful book has just been published by National Geographic, “Turn it Up! A Pitch-perfect History of Music that Rocked the World.”  Written by Joel Levy, this book claims to cover everything from Bach to Beyoncé.  Mr. Levy gives information about a wide range of musical subjects and covers it all in 192 pages.  Now days when I listen to the thump, thump, thump of bass outside my house, I say, “It’s too loud!”  If I’m trying to listen to singers, I hear myself saying “I can’t understand the words!”  What goes around comes around.   See you at the library!

Friday, February 7, 2020

Read With Me!

 By Jan Pease

Roses are red, violets are blue
You read to me, and I’ll read to you!

Do you enjoy reading aloud?  Or were you a young person who sat, dreading being called on to read a selection out loud?  There is a simple fix for this problem.  Like so many things, it just takes practice.  The more you read aloud, the better it goes, whether you’re an adult or a young person.

For several years, I’ve been a member of an organization that encourages families to read with children 15 minutes a day, every day.  March is National Read Aloud Month, and I would like to see huge participation in our library.  Spend time reading with your child every day.  If your child is reading, please include having them read to you. 

National campaigns have changed minds in the past.  Everyone had cavities when I was a child, but I remember the “Look, Ma, no cavities” ads that turned tooth brushing into a routine event.  Remember the Mothers Against Drunk Driving who made “one for the road” a thing of the past.  Think of the Susan B. Komen Foundation which made us all aware of the pink ribbon breast cancer awareness symbol and prioritized breast cancer research.  Well, the National Read Aloud Foundation wants reading aloud to be as routine as brushing children’s teeth.

What happens when we read aloud?  There is a bond that forms, with our children, or with our friends.  Carole, a writer, director, and actress friend of mine stopped in one day during the week.  I showed her a book called “Joyful Noise, Poems for Two Voices,” and we stood near the front desk and immediately got into the rhythm of Paul Fleischman’s words as we read his poem “Book Lice.”  I hope Carole and I will perform a couple of these poems at Story Time some Friday. 

Children need to hear books and songs. They need to talk about the pictures they see. According to the Read Aloud Foundation, only 48% of children are read to every day, but the number of words children understand   directly affects how ready they are for school and life-long learning.

 There are states in which parents don’t do a good poor job of preparing their children for school.  In Kentucky, for example, 51% of children enter Kindergarten unprepared for the experience.  In Minnesota, where we are justifiably proud of our education system, 27% of children enter kindergarten unready.  This is a slippery slope, where children’s chances of catching up get worse as they go farther in school. 

It’s not a race, but the stakes are high. 15 Minutes hopes to have every child ready to read by kindergarten.  Children who enter kindergarten ready to learn to read continue build skills throughout the early school years. This is only possible by beginning to read to children at birth.

For more information, please visit the website

Every child. Every parent. Every day.