Library Columns

Archive: 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020

Plot Twist: The Library Column is Back!
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian
May 24, 2024

What a plot twist! We said goodbye to the “Independent Review” only a few weeks ago, and here we are with a brand-new Litchfield newspaper. I am delighted to tell you that the library will once again have a weekly column in the paper. There’s so much to share with you this week.

We are coming up quickly on the start of the summer reading program. I’ll let Litchfield Children’s Librarian Rachel tell you more about it in next week’s edition, but it begins next Monday, June 3. This year’s theme is “Read, Renew, Repeat.” The library will be celebrating things like conservation, recycling, the environment, plants, and animals.

Children and teens up to age 18 can sign up for this self-paced program beginning on the 3rd, but no need to worry if you don’t get to the library that day. Sign up continues all summer, and the program ends August 31. The summer reading program dates are the same at the Grove City, Cosmos, and Dassel libraries.

Local businesses, if you would like to donate small prizes or gift certificates for things children and teens would enjoy as summer reading prizes, we are always happy to receive those. You can call or email me to discuss it. We give out prizes all summer, so there’s plenty of time. We publicly thank the businesses that donate at the end of the summer.

Miss Rachel will be leading a weekly program called Kid Craft Corner every Tuesday from 4-5 p.m. in the library’s meeting room. The first session will be on Tuesday, June 4, and the program will continue through August 13. This program is free to attend and there’s no need to sign up. Children younger than age 8 need to be accompanied by a caregiver.

Story times begin again on Wednesday, June 5, with the half-hour baby and toddler-focused story time at 10:15. On Fridays, the hour-long story time is at 10:00 a.m. and is geared to preschoolers and up, but kids of all ages are welcome at both. Many of this summer’s Friday story times feature special programs that will appeal to elementary school kids as well as preschoolers.

The first of those special programs will be on Friday, June 7, at 10 a.m.  Science Heroes will present “Adventure of the Lost Treasure,” a combination of science and stories. Families are invited to join us on a treasure-hunting adventure deep within the jungle. The audience helps the performer act out the tale, as they use events in the story to explore exciting science concepts such as air pressure, energy transfer, and physical vs. chemical changes. Volunteers from the audience will help conduct the experiments, and the whole audience will get involved in changing variables, making predictions, and comparing results. Science Heroes was so much fun last year that we brought them back for a new program this year. Thank you to the Friends of the Litchfield Library for sponsoring this exciting program! This is free to attend, and no registration is required.

If 2:00 that day works better for your schedule, you can attend the same program at the Grove City Library.

Litchfield Library’s monthly teen program will be held on Saturday, June 8, from 1:30-3:00 p.m. Margaret will lead the kids in a Dungeons & Dragons escape room challenge. There’s no need to sign up for this free program for ages 11-18.

Have you wanted to check out the library’s books on CD or music CDs, but you don’t have a CD player? You can now check out a portable CD player from the library! The library purchased two of them through an accessibility grant from Prairielands Library System. One has adult and child-size headphones in the tote with it, and the other does not work with headphones. Both have radios as well as CD players. Audiobooks make books accessible to people with vision issues, learning disabilities, ADHD, and physical disabilities, as well as adults or children who are learning to read. Search the keyword “boombox” if you want to put a hold on one of these through the online catalog, or just ask at the front desk.

I offer my congratulations and best wishes to Brent, Kay, and the other local newspaper staff who are now serving the community at the “Litchfield Rail” and the “Hutchinson Station.” At the library we plan to subscribe to both. I hope many people will subscribe, so that we can keep local news alive in Litchfield. Thank you to all who play a part in keeping our community connected and informed.

Farewell to the Litchfield Independent Review
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian
4/11/24

It is with sadness that I write this column, my final one in the soon-to-cease Independent Review. I have been a columnist for the newspaper since I became the Litchfield Library’s head librarian thirteen years ago, taking over from previous head librarian Jeanette Stottrup. I can’t lie: it has been a bit like a constant homework assignment, with an essay to write every other week. But it has also been a wonderful opportunity for me and for the library.

The newspaper has allowed me to reach the people who then showed up to restart our wonderful Friends of the Litchfield Library group. It has given me the opportunity to tell the general public about new books, and I have enjoyed it immensely when people would come in and say to me, “I read your article; can I get that book you talked about?”  The column has been a way to share all types of library news, whether about programs, new technology, updated policies, or any other developments.

I know people have read my column through the years, because I have heard from them about the things they learned from it. People have also come into the library talking about the columns written by the Litchfield children’s librarian, who has taken turns with me to write the weekly article: Jan Pease, Rachelle Golde, and now Rachel Clark, during the years I have worked at the library. From what I can find in the library records, it appears that there has been a Litchfield Library column in the Independent Review since the 1980s.

One of the lasting joys for me personally is that having a regular column in the local newspaper allowed me to become a part of history. Newspapers become part of the historical record. At the library, we have microfilm of the Litchfield Independent back to the 1800s, and I help people view those reels regularly. People most often look for family history, but they also seek out community history. Newspapers help us find details about the past, gathered at the time things happened, rather than based on someone’s memory later.

The mother of a close friend of mine wrote a column for her Wisconsin hometown paper for many years. After her mom died last year, my friend went to the microfilm collection at her hometown library and found her mom’s writings. Her mother was part of the archives of her local history, and her children still have access to the things she wrote.

I don’t know how Litchfield or Hutchinson happenings will be recorded and archived going forward, or how people will find a central, reliable source of information on current local events, other than the radio station. This is an issue in so many communities these days as newspapers are shut down. No one is archiving social media or the ever-changing websites run by multiple organizations. We will all need to be mindful of finding the facts of local news instead of just believing the rumors that inevitably spread in any community.

According to the Associated Press in late 2023, the United States has lost one-third of its newspapers and two-thirds of its newspaper journalists since 2005. Most of these were weekly publications in areas with few or no other sources for news, with rural and impoverished areas affected the most. Studies have shown that the absence of a reliable local news source increases political polarization and misinformation, and that a void in news coverage allows more political corruption, which can result when there are no journalists covering local government. This concern is bigger than just Litchfield and Hutchinson, and it’s not the fault of our local newspapers. It’s a troubling trend for our entire country.

I would like to thank the staff of the Independent Review and the Leader for their many years of excellent work. Editor Brent Schacherer produced newspapers of outstanding quality, and I’m grateful for the years of service he gave the community. I wish him and his staff well as they transition to life after the end of these newspapers.

To find out what’s happening at the library going forward, visit our website at www.litchfield.lib.mn.us. We update it often, and we have started creating a monthly events calendar that’s posted on the “Library Calendar” tab of that site. You can pick up a paper version of the calendar at the front desk. The library also has a Facebook page, an Instagram account, and a TikTok account; just make sure you’re looking at the Litchfield Library in Minnesota, since there are Litchfields all over the country that have libraries!

And, of course, you can always stop in and take a look at all of the new books, DVDs, and CDs at the library, as well as the flyers about upcoming library events. There is a community bulletin board in the copy room where anyone can post a flyer, so that’s another source of printed information about events happening in the community.

It has been my privilege to speak to you through this column for so many years. Thank you for reading!


Trends in Adult Winter Reading
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian
March 28, 2024Every year it’s fun to see what Litchfield folks read for the annual adult winter reading program at the library. This year, 121 people participated in the program. They turned in reading logs for 514 different books, which they read and rated since the program began in January.

Participants choose what they want to read, which leads to so much variety. This year no books were read by more than two of the people who turned in reviews.

The most-read author in this year’s winter reading program was Agatha Christie. She has been popular in previous years, too. Not bad for an author who died 48 years ago! This year’s winter readers turned in twelve reviews of nine of her books, which included The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Murder on the Links.

Coming in second was William Kent Krueger, the tremendously popular Minnesota author. Our readers turned in nine reviews of nine different books by him, which included Fox Creek and Sulfur Springs.

Tying for third place were Nora Roberts and James Patterson, with eight reviews each. For Roberts, these were eight different titles, and for Patterson they were seven unique titles and a repeat. Other popular authors included Lisa Jackson, Tamera Alexander, Linda Lael Miller, John Sandford, and Sara Shepard.

The most popular genres were romance and mystery. The participants read very few science fiction, fantasy, or horror novels.

Classics were well-represented among this year’s books, including Jane Eyre, A Study in Scarlet, Dracula, and multiple works by Plato. Recent bestsellers were also in the mix, including Fourth Wing, Lessons in Chemistry, House of Flame and Shadow, and The Inmate.

In addition to novels for adults, participants in the program can choose to read nonfiction, or books for young readers, and they did both. The most popular subject in nonfiction was Christianity. Other topics included law, gardening, cooking, finance, dieting, raising chickens, and ice fishing. Juvenile and YA books included the Goosebumps and the Warriors series.

Some of the participants read multiple books by one author. Others read a wide variety. When you participate in the program, you read whatever you want! Credit goes to library staff member Mikaila for compiling these interesting statistics about this year’s program.

Thank you to the Friends of the Litchfield Public Library for sponsoring the prize drawing for the program. Everyone who turned in a reading log by March 16 with six books read and rated was entered into the drawing for three gift certificates to local businesses. It’s a fun bonus on top of the small prizes that everyone gets for taking part in this reading challenge.

Watch for more information on the library’s summer reading program for children and teens that begins in June. The adult winter program will be offered again in January of next year.


Oscar Movies at the Library
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian
March 15, 2024

The 96th Academy Awards were presented this month. Wondering how you could watch the movies people are talking about? You can check out some of the Oscar winners on DVD at the library, and more will be coming as they’re released on disc.

The historical biopic Oppenheimer was the big winner this year, winning seven of the thirteen awards it was nominated for: Best Picture, Directing, Actor in a Leading Role, Actor in a Supporting Role, Cinematography, Score, and Film Editing. This three-hour juggernaut was one of the top-grossing movies of the year, after only Barbie and The Super Mario Bros. Movie. If you didn’t catch it in the theater, by itself or as part of a “Barbenheimer” marathon, you can now watch it on DVD by checking it out at the library.

Oppenheimer is based on the book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. This sophisticated movie shows audiences the complicated life and personality of the scientist who led the effort to develop the atomic bomb during World War II. After the bomb was successfully created at Los Alamos Laboratory, Oppenheimer went on to confront the moral issues that arose from its creation, and to struggle under McCarthyism.

Poor Things was the next biggest winner of the night, winning four awards out of the eleven nominations it had. The movie’s star Emma Stone won the award for Actress in a Leading Role, and the film also won the awards for Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, and Production Design. The movie is based on the book Poor Things by Alasdair Grey. While described as bizarre and over-the-top, this movie uses a Frankenstein-style story to do what science fiction has always done: comment on our current society. Bella is brought back to life with an adult body and an infant brain by a scientist in Victorian London, and the men in her life are unable to contain her. This film is on order and will soon be available to check out.

Barbie was one of the most popular movies of last year, and it was nominated for eight Oscars. It won one of them: Original Song, for “What Was I Made For?”  In this existential comedy, Barbie lives in perfect Barbie Land until sadness, thoughts of mortality, and other human realities begin intruding into her life. She travels to our world to find out why, discovering the problems and the beauty of being human. While people dismiss this as a toy-related movie, it’s so much more than that; with themes of gender equality, motherhood, the meaning of life, and self-worth, it’s primarily for adults. This was my favorite movie of last year. It’s available to check out at the library.

The Holdovers was nominated for five Oscars, and it won one: Actress in a Supporting Role for Da’Vine Joy Randolph. This dramatic comedy (or comic drama?) features a grumpy teacher at a New England boarding school who is forced to babysit the few students who have to stay on campus over Christmas break. With a vintage style that makes it look like a movie made in the year it’s set (1970-71), this movie is sweet, sad, funny, and insightful, as the characters gradually reveal the personal issues underneath their prickly exteriors. This movie is available to check out from the library.

20 Days in Mariupol won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. This PBS film is the work of a team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the city of Mariupol as the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. The filmmakers show the atrocities that don’t make it on the sanitized news coverage, in an effort to bear witness to the events that happened at the start of the war. Cosmos Library has this film in its collection now, and Litchfield Library will be getting the DVD, also.

The library collection also has these movies, which were nominated for Oscars but didn’t win: The Color PurpleElementalSpider-Man: Across the Spider-VerseGoldaIndiana Jones and the Dial of DestinyPast LivesThe CreatorMission: Impossible: Dead Reckoning, Part One, and Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3. As other nominees become available on DVD, the library is likely to acquire them.

Oscar movies usually aren’t an escape from life, but they can help us reflect on life and the human condition. If you’re a movie buff, check out the library’s DVD collection for these and other high-quality films.


Smokey Bear Turns 80
by Miss Rachel
2/28/24

You might remember the Disney film “Bambi” for its heartbreaking family story. But did you know that in 1942, Disney loaned the characters to the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention program (CFFP) for one year? After that year was up, the CFFP program needed to find a mascot all their own. They came up with the classic Smokey Bear.

This March, we are celebrating Smokey Bear’s 80th birthday at the library. We want to engage our young patrons in reading about wildfire prevention, forests, and natural resource careers, while exploring the local environment.

On March 26th at 4:00pm, Interpretive Naturalist Savannah Stephenson will be at the Litchfield Public Library. Kids of all ages are welcome to come and learn about the difference between controlled burns and wildfires. Additionally, attendees will get the chance to observe different prairie plant roots to see why some plants survive fire better than others.

For the month of March, kids can participate in the Smokey Bear Reading Challenge here at the library. Kids can complete different activities centered around reading and learning about nature to earn points. Once they’ve earned 8 points, they can come in for a prize. Attending storytimes and the event on March 26th are also worth points for the challenge.

We have plenty of books that qualify for the Smokey Bear Reading Challenge. Come take a look at some of our newest additions!

If you’re interested in reading more specifically about wildfires, we have several new books for young readers. “They Hold the Line: Wildfires, Wildlands, and the Firefighters Who Brave Them” by Dan Paley is a nonfiction picture book that informs readers about how firefighters take on the deadly natural disasters. “Wildfire!” by Ashley Wolff is another picture book that shows the hardships that the animals face when fire breaks out on Spruce Mountain. For fans of graphic novels, “Wildfire” by Breena Bard follows the story of young Julianna whose home is destroyed in a wildfire. How can Julianna move on from this devastation?

 

Young science explorers might be intrigued by the book “Search for a Giant Squid: Pick Your Path” by Amy Seto Forrester. Readers start out by picking their submersible, then their pilot and dive site, and continue on their exciting adventure. Packed with facts and terminology from the field, young readers can learn a lot from this venture.

Not everyone wants to read nonfiction, and for those readers, I suggest “a slightly scientific fairy tale” by Sandra Fay called “The Three Little Tardigrades.” For those who don’t know, tardigrades are more commonly known as moss piglets or water bears. With a Big Hairy Wolf Spider as the villain, this story is somewhat reminiscent of the story of the three little pigs. Perhaps the familiarity and the slightly scientific take may be just right for your next read with your young reader.

Smokey Bear continues to remind us to that “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Come to the library with your young readers throughout March to celebrate his 80th birthday.

“About the Campaign.” Smokey Bear, 4 Aug. 2021, smokeybear.com/en/smokeys-history/about-the-campaign.


Reading Presidentially
by Beth Cronk, County Librarian

2/21/24

During this week of Presidents Day and George Washington’s birthday, it can be interesting to learn about the history of the American presidents. Litchfield Library has many books that share information about their lives and legacies.

One brand-new book about the presidents is Life After Power: Seven Presidents and Their Search for Purpose Beyond the White House by Jared Cohen. The presidents profiled are Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Grover Cleveland, William Howard Taft, Herbert Hoover, Jimmy Carter, and George W. Bush. Each made a unique decision about what to do for the rest of their lives after leaving the presidency.

Patti Davis, the daughter of Ronald Reagan, has a new book out about her family. Dear Mom and Dad: A Letter About Family, Memory, and the America We Once Knew is a memoir written in the form of a letter to Ronald and Nancy Reagan. Davis’s beautiful writing has been praised by reviewers, as has the candid but kind way she depicts her complicated family and her role within it.

James Garfield isn’t a president most of us know much about. A recent biography by C.W. Goodyear has tried to change that. President Garfield: From Radical to Unifier has been called “the most comprehensive Garfield biography in almost fifty years” by the Wall Street Journal. Although he was president only 200 days before he was assassinated, he had a long and important political career. The last president to be born in a log cabin, Garfield rose from poverty to become a professor, a college president, and a state senator, before fighting for the Union as a general in the Civil War. He went on to become the leading Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, serving for nearly two decades in a polarized era. As time went on, he became a peacemaker, and he was elected president because of his ability to overcome divisions.

Another short-term president, Gerald Ford, is the subject of another recent biography: Ordinary Man: The Surprising Life and Historic Presidency of Gerald R. Ford. Author Richard Norton Smith is an award-winning biographer of presidents and other significant historical figures. In this biography, Smith starts with Ford’s difficult childhood, then moves on to his early anti-establishment political views and his relationship with his wife Betty.  Most of the book is about the events of his presidency, something often overshadowed by the way he became president. Smith adds context by looking at the legacies of the decisions Ford made in office. The Wall Street Journal included this new biography on its list of the top ten books of 2023.

For an interesting look at the culinary side of the presidency, pick up Dinner with the President: Food, Politics, and a History of Breaking Bread at the White House by Alex Prud’homme.  Prud’homme was Julia Child’s co-author of her memoir My Life in France. In his new book, he examines the importance of the president’s dining table to issues such as diplomacy, race, class, and food trends. Did you know that Thomas Jefferson loved eggplant, or that every day Richard Nixon ate cottage cheese with barbecue sauce? One chapter is titled “Dwight D. Eisenhower: The President who cooked.”

If you prefer your history as historical fiction, look for the recent novel The General and Julia by Jon Clinch. In it, Ulysses S. Grant is writing his memoirs as he’s dying from cancer. To do so, he looks back on his life as the Civil War-winning general, a president fighting for the rights of Black Americans, a farmer turned businessman who lost all of his money to a swindler, and a devoted husband and father.

So many books are available to read about the American presidents. If you’re looking for Lincoln, check out the current display of books about him on the end of one of the adult paperback shelves. If you’re looking for any other president, you can check the catalog for the subject “presidents” or the name of the one you’re seeking. Many but not all of these books are in the U.S. history section: 973 in the Dewey Decimal system. Learning about past presidents is a great way to understand more about American history.


Books to Beat Bullying
Valentine’s Day 2024
by Miss Rachel

I admit it. I’m a millennial who will occasionally spend some time scrolling through social media. Normally, I look for animals doing goofy things. But not so long ago, I heard a song that caught my attention. The song “If I Were A Fish” was written by singer/songwriters corook and Olivia Barton in response to some incredibly hateful comments they received on the internet. The lyrics speak for themselves:

“Why’s everybody on the internet so mean?  Why’s everybody so afraid of what they’ve never seen? . . . How lucky are we? Of all the fish in the sea? You get to be you, and I get to be me.”

Embracing their differences, the duo decided to spread the message that different is great no matter what other people say. They even went a step farther and turned the song into an adorable picture book of the same name that you can check out from our library.

We have lots of books that encourage kids to be their own unique selves. We also have books to encourage kindness, which can be checked out to celebrate Pink Shirt Day on Wednesday, February 28th. Pink Shirt Day is a day to raise awareness around the issue of bullying. While the day started in Nova Scotia, it is now celebrated in many different countries around the world. If you’re looking for more reading options to celebrate Pink Shirt Day, take a look at our new shelf!

“Mina Belongs Here” by Sandra Niebuhr-Siebert and Lars Baus

Books like this one are a great way to teach kids how to empathize with others. In “Mina Belongs Here,” main character Mina is very nervous about starting kindergarten at a new school. Not only does she not know anyone at this new school, she also doesn’t speak the same language. As Mina learns more words and meets new friends, she figures out where she belongs.

“Jawbreaker” by Christina Wyman

If you’ve ever had braces, headgear, or any kind of orthodontal device, you might be able to relate to the main character in this book, Max. With Class II malocclusion (severe overbite), she’s doomed to wear orthodontic headgear. The school bullies take the opportunity to tease her while she deals with drama at home.

Picture books and chapter books alike can help kids to see the importance of kindness to everyone regardless of looks, teeth, language, or whatever sets someone apart. Celebrate Pink Shirt Day on Wednesday, February 28th by reading some books about kindness and respecting differences (all while wearing a pink shirt perhaps). As corook and Olivia sing, “We’re as free as can be to be the you-est of you and the me-ist of me.”


Minnesota Book Award Finalists at the Library
by Beth Cronk, County Librarian

February 7, 2024

The finalists for the Minnesota Book Awards were announced on January 27. These annual awards celebrate outstanding books written or illustrated by Minnesotans. The Litchfield Library has some of the finalists in a variety of categories, and it’s likely that more will join the collection now that they’ve been honored in this way.

Smoke on the Waterfront: The Northern Waters Smokehaus Cookbook was written by Ned Netzel, Nic Peloquin, Mary K. Tennis, Greg Conley, and Eric Goerdt. The Northern Waters Smokehaus is a restaurant in Duluth, Minnesota, that has been in business since 1998. This cookbook is an entertaining look at the work these restauranteurs do and the recipes they have created. If you’d like to learn to smoke fish or meat, make pickles or a salad, or create a tasty sandwich, this book has something for you. If you’ve enjoyed eating at Northern Waters, you may find your favorite menu item! Smoke on the Waterfront is a finalist in the category of General Nonfiction.

The fantasy novel Ink Blood Sister Scribe was chosen by the Good Morning America Book Club in June of last year.  NPR chose it for their 2023 “Books We Love” list, and the New York Times included it on their notable books list for 2023. Minnesota author and Macalester professor Emma Törzs wrote this novel about two estranged half-sisters and a family library of magical books that contains a deadly secret. Ink Blood Sister Scribe is a finalist in the category of Genre Fiction.

Trauma Sponges: Dispatches from the Scarred Heart of Emergency Response is a memoir published by University of Minnesota Press. Author Jeremy Norton has been a firefighter and EMT with the Minneapolis Fire Department since 2000, and he has a master’s degree in creative writing. Norton shares his decades of experience as a first responder, interacting with sick, injured, dying, and devastated people. Norton and his crew were responders at the scene of George Floyd’s murder, and they faced all of the aftermath, as well.  His book is described as having a rare insider perspective on the machismo in the profession, as well as the toll the constant trauma takes on individuals. Trauma Sponges is nominated in the category of Memoir & Creative Nonfiction.

Break the Wheel: Ending the Cycle of Police Violence is a book by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. Ellison gives his account of the Derek Chauvin trial for the murder of George Floyd, explaining the route that the prosecutors in his office took when pursuing the case. Ellison also sat down with police officers, historians, judges, activists, and legislators to discuss solutions to the larger issues. Break the Wheel is a finalist for the Emilie Buchwald Award for Minnesota Nonfiction.

Also a finalist in the Minnesota Nonfiction category is Minescapes: Reclaiming Minnesota’s Mined Lands. Author Pete Kero is an environmental engineer who co-created Redhead Mountain Bike Park in Chisolm, MN, built on former minelands. In the book, Kero shares how the mining industry, local residents, and tourists coexist on the Mesabi Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota. In the 1950s, residents started turning formerly mined areas into newly useful spaces. In the 1980s, the Mine Reclamation Rules began requiring mining companies to care for the land as they were extracting ore from it. Then in the 2000s, the Laurentian Vision Project brought together landscape architects, engineers, and local residents to guide the area’s development of these spaces.

The novel A Council of Dolls is by Mona Susan Power, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. This work of historical fiction tells the stories of three women and their dolls. Sissy is a Chicago girl born in 1961 to a volatile and dangerous mother. Lillian, born in 1925 on her ancestral lands, is sent with her sister to an Indian boarding school where they are abused by nuns. Cora, born in 1888 on the Standing Rock Reservation, is also sent to a residential school where they burn her beloved doll. A Council of Dolls was longlisted for the National Book Award, and it is now a finalist for a Minnesota Book Award in the category of Novel & Short Story.

To see the complete list of finalists, visit the website of The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library, the organization that runs the Minnesota Book Awards. There are categories for children’s literature, middle grade literature, young adult literature, and poetry, as well. Winners will be announced May 7. Enjoy the excellent books that Minnesota authors and illustrators have created!


Use the Library to Meet Your New Year’s Resolutions 
December 27, 2023
by Beth Cronk

Have you been thinking about your New Year’s resolutions? According to a recent article in Forbes magazine, about a third of Americans typically set a resolution or goal for the coming year.  USA Today newspaper has shared statistics from Statista, a German data gathering company, showing that Americans’ top New Year’s resolutions for 2024 are saving money, exercising more, eating healthier, spending more time with family and friends, and losing weight.

The public library is a great resource if you want to reduce your spending, even while pursuing some of the other goals on that list.

Instead of buying all of the books you read, or having an Audible subscription, you can check out a vast range of them from the library. The same is true for movies. If we don’t have a print book or a movie on DVD in our local library, you can order those from libraries all over the state of Minnesota. Children’s books and children’s DVDs don’t have late fees anymore; as long as you return them, you won’t even have the expense of fines for those unless they’re damaged.

Want to save money by dropping your streaming service or cable TV? While many streaming TV shows aren’t available on DVD, some are. Take a look in the library catalog to find out if we have the show you want to watch.

If you need to save money on subscriptions, you can visit the library to read local and regional newspapers and check out magazines. Our library system also has a large collection of magazines available on the Libby e-book platform.

Library programs are always free to attend. You can find free entertainment and education by attending storytimes, teen programs, book clubs, LEGO programs, knitting clubs, craft programs, science programs, and author events at the library. Some library craft programs are offered through free take-home kits. Attending library programs with your loved ones can help you meet your goal of spending time with family and friends!

Our library system offers free access to Creativebug, an arts and crafts instructional website. If your resolutions include pursuing your hobbies or learning new skills, this can be a way to try something new without having to pay for a class.

Technology is expensive. If you want to save on your data usage on your cell phone or home internet, you can come to the library to use the free wi-fi. It even works from the parking lot. We also loan hotspots so that you can have free wi-fi at home for 4 weeks, although these days there is a long wait for those. The library has laptops available to check out for four weeks, plus desktop computers for use at the library – both good ways to have a computer to use without having to buy one. It’s also inexpensive to print at the Litchfield Library: just ten cents per page for black and white prints or copies and fifty cents per page for color. Compared to buying ink cartridges, it can be a good deal.

If your goals include exercise and fitness, you can find books about those topics at the library, as well as workout videos. An enormous selection of cookbooks is available to check out, including many featuring healthy recipes.

If you visit the I Love Libraries calculator website at ilovelibraries.org/what-libraries-do/calculator, you can enter the number of books and movies you have checked out this year, as well as other library services you have used, to get an estimate of how much you saved by using the public library this year. Take good care of your finances, your health, and your general wellbeing by making the library a part of your new year.


Archive: 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020

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