Curbside pickup of requested items, computers by appointment, and other limited services are available.  Please contact your library for specific information on services provided. 

Adult Winter Reading and the top books of 2020

by Beth Cronk, County Librarian

This year’s Adult Winter Reading Program began January 15 at the Litchfield Public Library and runs until March 15. Sign up any time in January or February.

As in previous years, participants read and rate books to earn prizes. Winter can be a good time to have a reading goal, and this year it’s true more than ever. Participants get one prize after reading 3 books, and another after reading 3 more.

It’s possible to participate in this year’s program without ever setting foot inside the library if you choose. Everything can be done either inside the library or through curbside service.

To participate in the program, ask to sign up when you call from outside to pick up your things curbside, or sign up when you’re in the library for a Library Express appointment. Participants will get a reading log, a bookmark, and a small portable hand sanitizer container with a clip. The hand sanitizer is this year’s sign-up incentive instead of the usual tote bag. Bags will be available as a prize choice.

Any type of book can be counted for the program: new or old, library book or your own, fiction or nonfiction, ebook, audiobook, or print. Write down your books on the reading log and rate them.

When you have read 3 books and again when you have read 3 more, you can turn in your reading log inside the library at your Library Express time and claim your prizes on the spot, or you can put your reading log in the book drop to get your prizes through curbside pickup. Before dropping the sheet into the book drop, be sure to write down your prize choice. Library staff will be in contact if that prize is no longer available. If you have your heart set on a particular prize, turn in your sheet after reading 3 books so that it’s more likely to still be available. We’ll return your sheet to you with your first prize so that you can complete the program.

Prize choices this year include a mug, a tote bag, a memo book, a large candy bar, and an insulated bottle cover.

So what will you read if you participate in the adult winter reading program? You could look for ideas among the most popular books at the library from this past year.

The most popular adult novel in Pioneerland Library System in 2020 was This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger. Krueger is a beloved and best-selling Minnesota author, known for his Cork O’Connor mystery series set in northern Minnesota. “This Tender Land” is his newest novel, released in late 2019, but it is not part of that mystery series. It’s a standalone coming-of-age novel about 4 orphans, set in the 1930s. Hutchinson Library has chosen this book for their One Book, One Community read for this year.

The other novels in the adult fiction top 10 for last year were Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, Camino Winds by John Grisham, Long Range by C.J. Box, Masked Prey by John Sandford, Blue Moon by Lee Child, A Walk Along the Beach by Debbie Macomber, The Guardians by John Grisham, and A Minute to Midnight by David Baldacci.

The most popular adult nonfiction book in the library system last year was Educated by Tara Westover. This memoir from 2018 tells the author’s story of growing up in a survivalist family in rural Idaho and how she educated herself to transform her life.

The other books in the adult nonfiction top 10 for 2020 were Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by Judy Pace Christie, Becoming by Michelle Obama, The House of Kennedy by James Patterson and Cynthia Fagen, The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz by Erik Larson, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, and Finding Chika: A Little Girl, and Earthquake, and the Making of a Family by Mitch Albom.

Whether you like to read the most popular books or you want to find something obscure, the library staff is always happy to help you find a book you want to read.

Sign up for the Adult Winter Reading Program

This year’s Adult Winter Reading Program began January 15 at the Litchfield Public Library and runs until March 15. Sign up any time in January or February.

As in previous years, participants read and rate books to earn prizes. Winter can be a good time to have a reading goal, and this year it’s true more than ever. Participants get one prize after reading three books, and another after a total of six.

It’s possible to participate in this year’s program without ever setting foot inside the library if you choose. Everything can be done either inside the library or through curbside service.

To participate in the program, ask to sign up when you call from outside to pick up your things curbside, or sign up when you’re in the library for a Library Express appointment. Participants will get a reading log, a bookmark, and a small portable hand sanitizer container with a clip to attach to a bag. The hand sanitizer is this year’s sign-up incentive instead of the usual tote bag. Bags will be available as a prize choice.

Any type of book can be counted for the program: new or old, library book or your own, fiction or nonfiction, ebook, audiobook, or print. Write down your books on the reading log and rate them.

When you have read three and again when you have read three more, you can turn in your reading log inside the library at your Library Express time and get your prizes immediately, or you can put your reading log in the book drop. Before dropping the sheet into the book drop, be sure to write down your prize choice. Library staff will be in contact if that prize is no longer available. Prizes can be delivered curbside, and if you turn in your sheet after three books, your reading log will be returned to you so that you can finish the program.

Prizes this year include a mug, a tote bag, a memo book, a large candy bar, and an insulated bottle cover. The mug is more golden than it appears in the photos.

Getting through pandemic winter with the library

by Beth Cronk, County Librarian

January is here, with the hope that comes from the start of a new year. Even so, we have a way to go before our pandemic winter is over. We know that having books to read and DVDs to watch is even more important these days, as they help us pass the time at home and escape the stresses of life. The library continues to be available to help you check out the things you need.

Curbside pickup remains available during all of the library’s business hours, as is help over the phone. You never need to set foot in the library to get the books and other library materials you want to check out; we’re happy to work with you to order things and then deliver them to the table in front of the library when you call from outside to pick them up. Curbside is a bustling business for us these days.

If you would like to come in, you can do that, too. The library is open; you just need to call to make a reservation, and there are time, age, and capacity limits. (Anyone age 12 and under must have an adult with them.) You can call to reserve a 15-minute Library Express appointment to browse the shelves and pick things out, to get a library card, or to make photocopies. If you need a computer, you can schedule a 1-hour appointment for that. Both types of appointments are available all day and evening and they can almost always be scheduled on short notice. If you’re running errands, feel free to call us and see if the library can be your next stop. For Library Express, the answer will almost always be yes, even if you’re calling from the parking lot.

We work hard to make the library a safe place for everyone to visit, and we strive to keep our staff healthy to keep the library operating for you. Face coverings are 100% required inside except for children age 5 and younger. We have plexiglass in place at all of the service desks. The computer keyboards and mice are cleaned and switched out between users, and space is blocked off around the computers to avoid having other people wandering into their 6-foot space. Staggering visitors and limiting the length of visits also helps make the building safer. As renowned epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm says, we need to “stop swapping air,” and all of these measures – and especially the curbside service – help reduce your chances of sharing air with others when you do your library business.

We have reduced the quarantine time for returned library materials to 24 hours, instead of the 72 it had been. The science is showing that surfaces don’t play a big role in transmitting coronavirus, so setting them aside for even 24 hours is precautionary. There may still be that little delay in getting your items checked in, but we set the date back to the day you actually returned them when we check them in.

Here’s the urgent question I’ve been getting lately: Is the adult winter reading program happening this year? Yes, it is! Like many other things these days, our materials for the program are taking extra time to get here. I’ve been holding off on starting until we have more than one of the prizes for you. Even if we’re still waiting for things to arrive, we’re going to start the program by January 15th. I know many people like to have that goal to read their three or six books to earn prizes during the winter when things are quiet and they stay home more, and that’s even more the situation this year! We will have mugs as a prize choice again this year, plus other options. If you come into the library for an appointment, you can turn in and pick up your winter reading things then, or you can pick up your reading log and prizes through curbside and drop off your completed sheet in the book drop. You can definitely participate in the program without ever having to come inside the library.

One last thing: if you’re looking for a virtual book club to keep life interesting this winter, we have a couple of choices. The Litchfield Library Adult Book Club meets on the second Tuesday of each month at noon, reading a variety of types of books. In recent months and for most of last year we’ve been meeting on Zoom, although we met outside a few times in the fall. That group has been going for years and will be for the foreseeable future.

We also have the Deep Dive Book Club: Reconstruction & Redemption, which is meeting on Google Meet every other Tuesday night at 7:00 through March. That’s a 7-session program that’s more like a class, taught remotely by a Black Studies scholar, with a wide variety of readings, podcasts and videos for gaining a more robust understanding of the Black American experience from 1865 through 1920. The first Deep Dive book club we did this fall was wonderful, and I highly recommend it.

Contact me by phone or email if you’re interested in signing up for either book club, or if you need help getting something to read or watch. I wish you health and happiness in 2021!

Boredom Busters

Library column for December 9, 2020

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

Hello from the Children’s Desk! With the increasing numbers of Covid cases, we are staying home more and our kids are schooling at home most of the time.  Mix in the colder weather and we can all experience a case of the “I’m bored!”  This is when your library can be a huge help. Not only do we have books for every age and interest we also offer Take & Make kits and other digital programs.  The Take & Make kits are small craft kits for ages 3-12 years old. We also offer take-home Makerspace kits for older kids and teens. Check the Litchfield Public Library’s website and social media such as Facebook and Twitter to get up to date information on programs and when these kits are available for pickup.

I also want to mention that the library has many how-to books about crafts, sewing, science, and STEM projects, writing prompts, cooking and baking, and games. This is a great way to create something such as holiday decorations, school projects, and homemade gifts.  These books are available for children, teens, and adults across the library collections. Some examples of books that we have in our children’s collection at the Litchfield library include:

Book Cover “Homemade Fun: 101 Crafts and Activities to do with Kids” by Rae Grant

Book Cover “Recycled Crafts Box: Sock Puppets, Cardboard Castles, Bottle Bugs and 37 More Earth-Friendly Projects & Activities You Can Create” by Laura C. Martin

Book Cover“Cool Engineering Projects: Fun & Creative Workshop Activities” by Rebecca Felix

Book Cover “Edible Science: Experiments You Can Eat” by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen

Book Cover “A Kid’s Guide to Sewing: Learn to Sew with Sophie & Her Friends: 16 Fun Projects You’ll Love to Make & Use” by Sophie Kerr

Book Cover “Learning to Knit” by Dana Meachen Rau

Book Cover“Picture Yourself Writing Poetry: Using Photos to Inspire Writing” by Laura Purdie Salas

Book Cover “Bad Kitty Makes Comics…: And You Can Too!” By Nick Bruel

Book Cover “The Big, Fun Kids Cookbook” by Food Network

Book Cover “Come to My Tea Party: A Cookbook for Children” by Nancy Akmon

Book Cover “The Great Games Book: Over 30 Popular Games to Make and Play From Around the World” by Susan Adams

Book Cover “Big Book of Playtime Activities” by Ray Gibson

Doing crafts, games, cooking and other D.I.Y. projects with children are more than just a way to keep them busy.  These types of activities teach children many concepts to include math, science, literacy, and life-skills.  When a child completes a project they also get a boost in their self-esteem, especially if they were able to do most of the creating work themselves. Keep in mind it is more about the process and experience than having a picture-perfect final result.  If possible, display the child’s creations proudly somewhere in your home where everyone can see them.

Be sure to check the online library catalog for activity books in your range of interests or give the library a call and we also help you get books.  Remember to check our website to find out when our Take & Make kits are available for pick up.

Until next time, happy reading!

Virtual storytimes available

Virtual storytimes with Rachelle are available under the Children’s Services tab on the left side of our website. New recordings are available weekly!

Accurate information essential for democracy

by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

President James Madison said, “A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or perhaps both.” Accurate information is essential to a healthy democracy. Disinformation is a danger to it.

As a librarian, I actively seek and provide sources of accurate information, and I encourage everyone to evaluate the accuracy of the information they encounter.

The American Library Association has some tips you can use to evaluate the information you come across, especially online:

  1. Consider the source. Look up the organization or publication that posted it, and see what its mission and contact information say.
  2. Read past the headline. Headlines can be outrageous in an effort to get clicks and reactions. Read an article before you share it or comment on it.
  3. Assess the credibility of the author or the expert quoted in an article. Do a quick search for them. What is their area of expertise, and what organization do they represent?
  4. Look at the links and sources supporting the article. Does that information actually support the story? Are those sources reliable?
  5. Check the date. Could the age of the article affect its accuracy?
  6. Consider that the item might be satire. Sometimes an article is meant to be humorous. Quickly look up the site and author to find out before you believe something outlandish.
  7. Consider that it might be promotional. Is the purpose of the site to sell a product?
  8. Check your biases. That’s a hard one! We are drawn to reading, believing, and sharing things that fit into our predetermined ideas. Pause and question something from an unproven source even if you want it to be true – in fact, especially then.
  9. Search other news outlets to see if the story is widely reported. Be skeptical of information appearing in only one place that you can’t confirm.

In today’s online environment, anyone can present their story in a way that looks professional, but it’s essential that we all consider whether the information is accurate.

Read, listen, and watch stories from many different news outlets. If you rely on only one or two sources of information, you’re limiting your understanding of a topic. Local and regional newspapers and broadcast news programs are good to include in your information diet, with the connections and accountability they have to people in your area.

You’re more likely to get reliable news and information when you go to library databases and Pulitzer Prize-winning news sources, as well. You can search library databases by visiting elibrarymn.org.  On that page there’s a button for “News & Magazines” where you can search for information published in a huge number of reputable publications, some of which have articles available to read there the same day they come out in print.

Did a friend share a meme about current events and you’re wondering if it’s true? Go beyond the short and sensationalistic and look for reliable sources and for experts who know what they’re talking about. If you need help finding accurate information on a topic, give me a call at the library, (320) 693-2483, or send me an email (my address is available on the library’s website), and I will do my best to find you the most accurate information I can locate.

Accurate information is one of the foundations of our democracy. Join me in making an effort to check sources, separate fact from opinion, and pause to verify before sharing. We all can do our part for the common good.

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