Thursday, April 6, 2017

Librarian Post: So You Want To Build An Escape Room.

    Because I am a stupid, STUPID person I decided it would be a great idea to create an Escape Room experience in my library for the Summer Reading Program under the very thin explanation that it's TOTALLY a Build a Better World program (Build a Better World Through Teamwork).
   For those of you not familiar, Escape Rooms are a huge trend right now. They're basically a puzzle room. You go into a space, which is usually themed, and have to complete the challenge and "escape" the room by solving a series of puzzles in the allotted time, usually with a group of strangers, which forces you to meet new people and work as a team. My boyfriend and I are totally obsessed with these (because we are nerds who like puzzles) and I've been dying to do one for a while now.
    The reason this makes me a STUPID person is that Escape rooms are hard. REALLY hard. Especially for one lone librarian trying to build one all by herself.
    There are, of course, businesses that are out there that do the rooms for you. My library district's teen department, for example, uses the services of Breakout EDU to do a monthly mini escape room challenge for the teen patrons. However, these are tabletop games, more than an actual room setup and are geared more for younger audiences than the all-ages group I am aiming for. So I started from scratch, which is hard and has already made me want my mommy more than once.
    I figured the easiest thing to do would be to avoid a complex theme for the room, so I made the premise very simple: your group has all been called to an old mansion because a distant and eccentric relative has died and left you a fortune. However, you only get the fortune if you can solve all his puzzles and escape his room. I am aiming for a 30 minute room for a group of 6 people at a time (8 might work, but is stretching it, due to the size of the room I have to work with, which is one of our smaller conference rooms.
    Like any good librarian, I started by doing a lot of research, and one of the best pieces of advice I saw was that for a 30-45 minute room, you should pick 10 objects that would fit in with your room's theme and make these the focus of your puzzles or clues. I decided to theme my room as a study or reading room and picked out my 10 objects:
A man's hat
Several books
A tin of cookies
A tea service (tea cup, spoon, saucer and teapot)
A sugar and creamer set
A box of tissues
A lamp
A small snow globe
A crossword puzzle book (I made this one myself because I needed it to be really specific).

Here are a couple of pictures of what some of my props look like so far.

Next time I'll talk about how I'm putting some of the puzzles together and how the props work into the room setup as a whole.


  1. Am I stupid too? We are planning one for June. Escape the Library if you will.

    1. Haha! Solidarity in Librarian stupidity? WHAT WAS I THINKING TRYING TO DO THIS ALONE?!?!?!?! How is it going for you? Any awesome tips?

  2. I am also thinking of doing one for Book Weeek, I'm in the research stage!

  3. I'm researching this too. I thought I could pull it together in two weeks time and use it this week for National Library Week. Clearly not happening. I'm interested to find out what you wind up doing!

    1. Two weeks is hecka short for something like this. I am dying and I have two months. Haha! I will post again soon on my progress.

  4. This is really great. Let us know how it all comes out. My church has teens who this would be perfect for.

    1. It is SUPER Popular with teens! Our district's teen department has been doing mini scenarios from b=Breakout Edu for a while and it's their most popular program.