Library Columns (2020)

Return to Current Library Columns

Library column for December 23, 2020

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

Did you know that birds and butterflies have four cones in their eyes to see color while humans usually have three, and cats and dogs only have two? Neither did I, until last night while going through our usual bedtime routine with our kids. One part of our routine is to read aloud at least one book with the kids before we tuck them in for the night. We recently checked out several nonfiction picture books which have been newly added to the library collection. Gone are the days of “boring” wordy encyclopedia-like nonfiction books for children.  Recent nonfiction books for children have become beautiful works of art that house a wealth of information expressed at a level of understanding children can easily grasp.  The book that I discovered the facts about animal eyes is titled:

Book Cover “Eye By Eye: Comparing How Animals See” by Sara Levine was a fascinating read for both myself and my kids! I learned about the structures of various animals’ eyes and why they are shaped the way that they are. The illustrations show what the various eyes would look like on humans, which got a lot of “oh cool!” or “gross!” remarks as I read the book aloud.  Other nonfiction picture books that we have read recently include:

Book Cover “All the Birds in the World” by David Opie- This brightly colored picture book explains the unique features of birds, including the very bizarre birds like the kiwi. Each detailed, photograph like illustration brings the various types and parts of birds to life for the reader. The illustrations each have map guides in the back of the book to help the reader identify the birds on each page of the book. It is a fun and informative read with a cute little kiwi bird that states repeatedly “What about me?”; the kids loved being the voice of this little bird. A great read for bird watchers of all ages, science units or an informative and entertaining book to read for fun.

Book Cover “Perkin’s Perfect Purple: How a Boy Created Color with Chemistry” by Tami Lewis Brown and Debbie Loren Dunn- This book is also full of brightly colored pictures and tells the story of how the color purple was created. The color purple was once a very rare and difficult color to make, which was why it was known for royalty until a boy, William Henry Perkin, accidentally discovered a way to create the color purple with his chemistry set. The author also includes a short biography of Perkin and an explanation of what color is and how Perkin’s invention for making colors changed the world. There is also a list of resources for further exploration of this topic for kids.  A wonderful historical science read for all ages.

Book Cover“History of the World in Comics” by Jean-Baptiste de Panafieu- This nonfiction graphic novel is an awesome explanation of the world from the beginning of time to modern days. It even includes some fun possibilities for the future of our Earth. This book is recommended for ages 10 and up if the child is reading on their own but can be a shared read with younger ages.

One is never too old to learn something new from a book, even a children’s book!  You might even be surprised to learn a new fact from reading aloud to a child. You can browse through our nonfiction collections online or make an appointment for a 15-minute browsing appointment. With this upcoming new year, I challenge myself, my kids, and you to keep exploring new ideas through reading nonfiction, as well as, fiction books. Who knows? Maybe you will stumble upon a little gem of wisdom.  Until next time, happy reading!

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 is 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!

Library column for November 25, 2020

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

Happy Thanksgiving from the Children’s Desk!  At this point, most of us are already thinking ahead to seasonal to-do lists which often include holiday shopping for our loved ones. As a librarian, my go-to gifts to give always include books. You can give the gifts of adventure, mystery, and knowledge all found in the pages of books. And a bonus feature is that books are usually easy to wrap!  I have put together a list of books that I would personally recommend as great gift options for children and teens.  The lists are split into three categories: children’s picture books, children’s chapter books, and books for teens. The books that I chose to include on these lists are books that were published this last year in 2020 and have either been read or reviewed by myself personally. Please note that this list is not exhaustive and the books are not listed in any order within their categories. I am happy to help you with more personalized recommendations. There are many more wonderful books that can be recommended for each of the categories.  If you would like a more personalized book recommendation, please feel free to email me at with a detailed message.  And now … drum roll please…for the fun part… the book lists!

Children’s Picture Books:

Book CoverMy Favorite Color by Aaron Becker: This beautiful book is best read with a light source to shine through the die-cut pictures. The book explores colors and their spectrums though nature. Who said we can only have one favorite color?

Book CoverTiny T. Rex and the Very Dark Dark by Jonathan Stutzman: Tiny T. Rex is off on another adventure. In this story he must face his fear of the dark. Very sweet.

Book CoverJack at Bat by Marc Barnett and Greg Pizzoli: this series is great for those looking for an easy reader for beginning readers.

Book CoverBedtime for Sweet Creatures: by Nikki Grimes: an adorable toddler fights bedtime while the child’s mother weaves creative stories about animals and the child’s behaviors. Beautifully illustrated and poetically written.

Children’s Chapter Books:

Book CoverSpindlefish and Stars by Christiane M. Andrews: This Greek mythology inspired fantasy inspires readers to choose their own paths, untangle mysteries and explore the power of storytelling.

Book CoverBefore the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson: This novel in verse explores ZJ’s relationship with his father as he copes with a long term football injury. Can they find common ground to stay connected?  This is a touching, emotional story of the bonds and strength of family while going through difficult times.

Book CoverThe Ickabog by J.K. Rowling: This fast-paced fairy tale is full of humor, monsters and epic adventures.

Book CoverVillage of Scoundrels by Margi Preus: This historical fiction story is based on a true story of WWII where a group of teens help to save refugees. This is an edge of your seat read!

Teens Books:

Book CoverThe Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu: A fictional story of Wolfgang Mozart and his sister Nannerl as they dream of making history with their music. When a magical stranger offers to help will Nannerl risk everything?

Book CoverStamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi: A history lesson told in a causal, relatable and even humorous language that will keep teens reading, thinking, and asking questions. This book challenges us to think about our personal ideas and beliefs of history.

Book CoverOne of Us is Next by Karen M. McManus: The sequel to “One of us is Lying” this thriller continues the mystery with a whole new set of problems with a deadly game of truth or dare.

Book CoverThe Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh by Candace Fleming: this nonfiction read reveals the darker side of this American Hero.

Graphic Novels: Superman Smashes the Klan (9781779504210): Yang, Gene Luen, Gurihiru: BooksSuperman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang for ages 10+

Book CoverWhen Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed for ages 10+

Book CoverThe Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp for ages 12+

Book CoverDragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang for ages 12+

Book CoverDonut the Destroyer by Sarah Graley for ages 8+

Happy holidays and until next time, happy reading!

Library column for November 11, 2020

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

Hello from the Children’s Desk!

November is international children’s picture book month.  The American Library Association will celebrate its third year as a partner with the annual Picture Book Month.  Author Dianne de Las Casas founded this library celebration with co-founders Katie Davis, Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Tara Lazar, and Wendy Martin; all of them are authors and illustrators of children’s picture books.  Picture Book Month was established as an international literacy movement to focus on printed books in an ever-increasingly digital age.

While reading picture books in any format promotes early literacy skills such as building vocabulary, narrative skills, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness, there is something magical about snuggling up with a child or a group of children to share a picture book.   Picture books are meant to be shared. Typically, we share them with young children; however, older children, teens, and even adults often find connections and enjoy reading and or listening to a picture book. They make us laugh and sometimes cry, and most often, the stories will stay with us long after we have finished reading the book.  Many of us can recite picture books or parts of our favorite titles from when we were children.  I encourage you to share a picture book with someone this November.  Picture books also make fantastic and creative gifts for people of all ages.  As children’s author, poet, teacher, and editor Emilie Buchwald states, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” However, the word “parents” can be substituted for grandparents, older siblings, and childcare providers.

Picture books bring us closer together physically, emotionally, and socially. Through rich text and vibrant pictures, we can engage, captivate, and teach children about the world. Picture books share information and stories about the world that is often different from the child’s current known world; this discovery will broaden their ideas, knowledge, and understanding of more of the world in a safe and secure way. Children can take in as much as they like while reading or being read to and rediscover new truths and ideas from the same picture when re-read or perhaps re-discovered many years later. Greg Pizzoli, children’s book author, states that picture books “make a space for them [children] to be absorbed into a world different than their own lives, which in turn, make their worlds a bigger and more interesting place to live.”

As part of Picture Book Month, there will be a new daily post from a picture book champion about the importance of picture books. Visit to read these short articles throughout November.

Check out a picture book or perhaps a stack of picture books to share with a loved one this month. The Litchfield Public Library has many brand-new books available, Thanksgiving-themed books, and old favorites to rediscover or share with someone for the first time. Call the Litchfield Public Library if you need help locating a title or make a 15-minute browsing appointment to explore the shelves yourself.

The Litchfield Public Library has digital storytimes posted to our website with new storytimes added weekly. The Litchfield Public Library will also have Take and Make kits available throughout the month. Check the library’s website at  or find us on Facebook and Twitter to get up to date information about available programs and services.

Until next time, happy reading!

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  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.

Library column for October 14, 2020

By Rachelle Golde, Litchfield Children’s Librarian

Hello, from the Children’s Desk!

The month of October brings us a lot to celebrate. This week we have Columbus Day,  Farmers Day, National M&M Day (Oct. 13- Do you have some M&Ms to observe the occasion?), Boss’s Day, Sweetest Day, and of course, the most well-known of them all – Halloween.  There are many other celebration days that I did not list. It’s a fun Google Search to see what celebration days we have coming up and fun ways to participate in them.  However, I wanted to highlight another celebration day on October 12th, Indigenous Peoples Day.

Indigenous Peoples Day is a time for reflection, honor, and remembrance of Native American peoples. The state of Minnesota adopted this celebration in 2016. Some have even stopped celebrating Columbus Day due to its controversial history.  You can read more about this celebratory day online.  To honor and encourage reflection and remembrance of Minnesota’s and our country’s great Native American history, I encourage you to read a book by a #OwnVoices author.  My suggested children’s titles that are on the shelf at the Litchfield Public Library include:

Book Cover“Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People” by Debbie Reese

Book Cover“Apple in the Middle” by Dawn Quigley

Book Cover“Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” by Kevin Noble Maillard

Book Cover“Thunder boy Jr” by Sherman Alexie

Book Cover“Bowwow Powwow” by Brenda J. Child

Another October celebration that librarians have a lot of fun with is the nationwide celebration of teens, TeenTober, hosted by libraries. At the Litchfield Public Library, we aim to create collections, programs, and services to help teens learn and discover new books and resources for education and entertainment.  For this TeenTober, Litchfield and Atwater libraries will be hosting a digital teen program. Teens can interact with each other and use their creative talents to generate a final digital project. For more information, contact Margaret Weigelt at 320-974-3363 or 320-693-2483. This digital event is scheduled for October 31st at 1:30 pm.

Library Resources for Students and Parents
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

Public libraries help provide support for education. Whichever way your child is going to school this year, the public library is happy to help provide resources for your family.

Pioneerland Library System has recently begun offering Brainfuse, an online resource that can be used anywhere. It includes a range of resources for all ages.

Brainfuse HelpNow offers personalized homework help in core subjects: math, reading, writing, science, and social studies.  Live tutoring is available through the Brainfuse site every day from 2:00-11:00 p.m. Because students communicate with online tutors in real time using an interactive virtual whiteboard to chat, write, draw, and graph, the tutors can provide individualized help to students of diverse needs and backgrounds.

HelpNow also offers skills building and test prep resources a student can work on alone, then take a quiz before connecting with a live tutor to review the quiz results. All live tutoring sessions are saved and can be replayed as well as shared with friends and teachers.

Students learning French or Spanish can use the Language Lab to either get live help from a tutor or use a variety of games and flashcards to practice skills.

The Writing Lab feature provides assistance at any time of day. Students can submit papers for detailed feedback.  The Send Question Center is similar but for help with non-writing assignments such as math or science.

Students who want to form an online study group with friends can do so through BrainFuse’s Meet feature, using the interactive whiteboard.

Is your student getting ready for college? Brainfuse offers SAT test prep and assistance with filling out the FAFSA for financial aid. I have wished for help with the FAFSA so many times! The eParachute feature helps people of any age discover college majors and careers that match their skills and interests.

If kids are a little rusty as the summer draws to a close, direct them to the Summer Camp feature, intended to sharpen math, science, and writing skills to avoid the summer slide.

All of these online resources are available now, and will be through the school year. Students can use them in conjunction with their in-person, hybrid, or distance learning, or parents can use them for assistance with homeschooling.

Speaking of homeschooling, libraries always offer a wide range of books and other materials that are useful for that. Some books are available for parents who are figuring out how to homeschool, such as the newer books The Brave Learner and The Call of the Wild and Free. But most of the resources homeschooling parents use from the library are the vast numbers of books for children and teens that are available on every subject and in every literary genre. If we don’t have it at our local library, we can usually order it from somewhere. Don’t forget documentary films as an educational resource; the library has those, too!

Whatever your school year holds, our library will be glad to help you find books and other resources to help. Remember that you can check out a device to get internet at your house for up to four weeks, and that you can pick up the library’s wifi outside the building 24/7.


Internet Access in a New Way
by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

In today’s world, it’s very difficult to do without internet access. In addition to offering one-hour computer appointments in the libraries, as well as wifi outside the buildings, Pioneerland has just added a new way for people to get internet access, at least for a little while.

Pioneerland libraries now have mobile hotspots available to check out. These devices provide wifi you can use at home, through T-Mobile.

You use your library card to check them out, just like a book. And like a book, they have a loan period of four weeks. They can’t be renewed.

To request one, you’ll need to call the library, rather than placing a hold through the catalog. If one is available, we can get it to you through curbside delivery right away. If they’re all checked out, we’ll put you on the waiting list and let you know when one is ready for you to pick up. These have been very popular in other library systems, so we anticipate demand.

If you keep the hotspot past the due date, it will turn off and become unusable. There will be a late fee of $1 a day for late returns. If the hotspot is not returned or if it comes back damaged, there is an $85 fee for replacement, and if any of the accessories are missing, there will be a charge for the amount the library spends buying a replacement for that piece. The cases for the hotspots are very sturdy and well-padded, so you can safely return them in the book drop. Staff will wipe down the equipment and cases between patrons.

Internet service relies on cell tower technology and coverage, so the signal will be stronger or weaker depending on where you live, and in some locations they won’t pick up a signal. Because of this, the Cosmos Library does not have any hotspots available to check out; they are unlikely to work in that area. The Litchfield Library has five, the Dassel Library has three, and the Grove City Library (where the signal is spotty) has two. The devices don’t go out through interlibrary loan; they can only be checked out at the library they belong to.

The hotspots have filtering software installed on them in accordance with Pioneerland’s Internet Use Policy, but the library is not responsible for individual activity on the internet. We encourage you to always follow safe internet practices. Pioneerland does not track your internet usage, data, or information while you’re using the hotspot and, in accordance with library privacy requirements, does not provide your information to the service provider.

If you need to print, the libraries do have e-printers that can accept emailed print jobs that meet certain parameters (Word document, photo, or PDF, but not a webpage, for example). The HP e-printing service sometimes doesn’t work well, so talk to library staff over the phone if you need to try using it, and allow plenty of time for the print job to come through. We can deliver printouts curbside.

If you check out a hotspot for a project and you complete it before the due date, please return the device so that someone else can have access to it sooner. We hope that these mobile hotspots will give you a way to get essential things done online at home during this unusual time.

Return to Current Library Columns

Pioneerland Library System © 2013-2020