Lo­cal li­brar­ian to present es­cape room projects at state con­fer­ence

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - NEWS - By Sara Huff

STEAM pro­gram­ming for teens, reader’s ad­vi­sory and so much more.

This year, how­ever, is slightly dif­fer­ent. I will be pre­sent­ing one of these hour­long ses­sions.

My ses­sion is called “Es­cape Rooms: Where Do I Even Start?!” and I cre­ated it to be a help­ful step-by-step guide to as­sist li­brar­i­ans who have lit­tle or no prior ex­pe­ri­ence cre­ate es­cape rooms.

In the past few years, es­cape rooms have be­come im­mensely pop­u­lar around the world. Busi­nesses have been pop­ping up where you can pay to ex­pe­ri­ence var­i­ous themed es­cape rooms. Last year, I wanted to cre­ate an es­cape room for teens at the Wil­liam Jeanes Memo­rial Li­brary. When I was try­ing to de­ter­mine what theme to go with, I went with one of my fa­vorite book se­ries of all time, Harry Pot­ter. From scratch, I cre­ated a Harry Pot­ter-themed es­cape room, and on one (very hec­tic) day in Jan­uary of this year, I had al­most 40 teens ex­pe­ri­ence the pro­gram.

Af­ter that day I up­loaded the clues, notes, pic­tures and plans to a Face­book group for li­brar­i­ans. Ever since then, I have got­ten mes­sages from other li­brar­i­ans who have recre­ated my room at their li­braries. Some have kept closer to my orig­i­nal plan, and some changed de­tails, such as props. I loved see­ing how each li­brar­ian recre­ated the room in his or her own way. I have es­ti­mated that over 500 peo­ple have en­joyed some ver­sion of my Harry Pot­ter es­cape room, and I have even re­ceived a mes­sage from a li­brar­ian in Finland who recre­ated it there!

I will tell you right now … cre­at­ing an es­cape room from scratch is hard. As the teen li­brar­ian for the past three years, I have cre­ated, planned and im­ple­mented dozens of events, and none of them are like cre­at­ing es­cape rooms. Cre­at­ing an es­cape room in­volves so much time and en­ergy that it can be ex­tremely daunt­ing for some­one to cre­ate their own (I know I was over­whelmed!). That is why I de­cided to cre­ate my step-bystep guide and sub­mit it for con­sid­er­a­tion to present at PALA. I’m ex­tremely happy that my sub­mis­sion was se­lected. One of my fa­vorite parts about be­ing a li­brar­ian is be­ing able to share ideas with oth­ers all over the world!

Aside from the Harry Pot­ter-themed es­cape room, I also cre­ated a “Stranger Things”-themed es­cape room that I held at the end of Au­gust. (If you missed it, I’ll be hold­ing it again on Satur­day, Oct. 20!) I’ll be de­tail­ing my ex­pe­ri­ence cre­at­ing both of these es­cape rooms in my pre­sen­ta­tion at PALA.

I am hon­ored to be able to rep­re­sent Wil­liam Jeanes Memo­rial Li­brary at this statewide con­fer­ence, and I am ex­cited to see what other es­cape room cre­ations are in my fu­ture!

Sara Huff is the teen li­brar­ian at the Wil­liam Jeanes Memo­rial Li­brary and Ni­cholas & Athena Karabots Cen­ter for Learn­ing, 4051 Joshua Road, Lafayette Hill.

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