Last year, one of our Adult Reference librarians read about the popularity of escape rooms and decided that she wanted our library to try to build an escape room. She proposed the idea to our administration, and sent out a call to the staff for people to work on the committee to build an escape room.
Three members of our Circulation staff, one of our Teen librarians, and two Adult Reference librarians ultimately came together to form the Harry Potter Escape Room committee. We met bimonthly for 6 months. We wrote plans, we drew up diagrams, we made inventory lists. We figured out how many sessions we could accommodate and how to handle registration.
In between meetings, our craft-minded committee members made the props that decorated the room: the posters of the House Founders, the bottles of potions, the Sorting Hat, the howler, the wands.
Hatch, our Makerspace on Summer Street, made the fireplace. We borrowed furniture from throughout the library, and from people’s homes. Committee members contributed bookcases, beds, curtains, trunks, and all manner of décor items.
We spent all of Tuesday, June 12, setting the stage and having testers try to Seek the Sorcerer’s Stone. We learned so many things from the testers, and from each session of the Escape Room that has run. Nobody followed the clues exactly we had scripted them, nobody moved in the linear fashion that we had predicted. We wrote things one way because it made sense in the planning, but in practice, people tend to enter an escape room and scatter in all directions, looking for clues everywhere.
Every day, we rethought the way we had done the clues, revised, tried out new things. We re-wrote and revised and changed up the room each night. None of us had ever made an escape room before, and only one person on the committee had ever been through an escape room before. In retrospect, we should have taken some field trips to see some escape rooms in action and there were number of things we could have done differently, so we weren’t scrambling to change things last minute. Or in one particular stress-inducing case, re-buying a crucial piece of equipment after it broke, luckily after the sessions were over for the night, so we had time to find something equivalent before the next morning. Many things we had duplicates and back-ups of. There’s an alternate Norbert that never had to be trotted out. But that one particularly crucial piece of equipment, the lock on the box where the Sorcerer’s Stone was hidden, was not something we had a backup of.
This was a learning experience and a journey of discovery for us. We know what we did right, and what we could have done differently. And now we have a good idea of what we want to do differently for next time.
But ultimately, everything we did was aimed towards presenting a fun and engaging program for the community. We wanted to offer something entertaining and interesting and I believe we succeeded. People signed up, and showed up, and had fun.
Thank you to everyone who came to our escape room, whether you came to a session or came to the open house to take a look at what we had done. Thank you to everyone who said such wonderful things about the work we did, because that justifies all the effort we poured into Seek the Sorcerer’s Stone.
And it’s given us so many ideas for next year when, hopefully, we’ll descend into the Chamber of Secrets.
-Kerri, Adult Reference librarian