What’s the Big Deal About Escape Rooms?

by Stefanie

“Is this part of it?” one kid asks me. He’s holding up a clock that I had propped up in a corner of our program room, one of several dozen random (or, seemingly random) objects scattered on tables, on countertops, and even on the floor.

IMG_20180720_093847139

I’m careful with my poker face. “I don’t know. Is it?” I throw back at him. He looks at it again, then puts it aside on the table marked “Important Things.”

He knows if he really needs help, I’ll give it to him. But instead, he figures it out on his own a few minutes later (as it turns out, the time on the clock is also the combination to a lock across the room). And the group gets way more excited about it, because they crack it all on their own.

IMG_20180720_093852252

A bunch of objects scattered around – some significant, some not – may not sound like your typical library program. But this type of event has quickly become one of the most popular library programs int he U.S. It’s called an escape room, and the one we did for the teens his July was by far our most popular teen program of Summer Reading. In fact, the gears are already turning in my head, determining when and how I’m going to do the next one.

Ten years ago, no one had ever heard of an escape room. Now, there are almost 3,000 permanent escape rooms around the world. And this number doesn’t include the pop-up escape rooms that can be found at conferences and in public libraries. One can easily fall down a rabbit hole on Pinterest looking at suggestions on how to set up an escape room for your friends in the privacy of your own home. Permanent escape rooms create elaborate and detailed adventures tailored to different themes and skill levels, and can cost $30-50 per person (or more) for an hour-long event. They are hugely popular, and public libraries, as they usually do, are trying to capture the zeitgeist in their program offerings.

The concept of the escape room – although it has elements of medieval hedge mazes and role-playing games – can be traced directly back to video games based on the same concept: you’re in a room, and you have to solve a mystery to get out. The first of these games, Behind Closed Doors, was released in 1988, when PC games were still text-only. The escape room concept became truly popular, though, as a result of a 2004 Japanese video game called Crimson Room. From here, real world escape rooms were born, starting in Japan but then spreading into Europe and the U.S., with the first American company opening in 2013 in Seattle (probably not coincidentally in the same city where the first Starbucks opened).

The concept is deceptively simple. The room is the framework, and wraps the mystery up into a nice package while also providing the challenge: the clues almost always lead you to a key that allows you to “escape the room” (hence the name). But you’re surrounded by clues or potential clues, and it’s up to you to work your way through all the puzzles to get to the end. So the room is both the problem and the solution at the same time. Themes vary from the classic Private Eye mystery to the X-Files to Ancient Greece. The puzzled are generally organized so that no specific knowledge is needed. You need only bring your puzzle-solving skills to the table.

But most importantly, you’re working against a timer to solve the mystery. The adrenaline rush of racing to finish in time is a huge aspect of the appeal. To this we can add the immersive experience created by all of these themed adventures. Rooms set in specific time periods put huge effort into verisimilitude, and even fanciful rooms set in fictional worlds aim to include so much detail that players feel like they’ve stepped onto the Holodeck (apologies to non-Star Trek fans: this would be the computerized room that whisks you into any scenario, place, or story you can think of). In other words, it is a perfect pairing for libraries, where readers come to find the next book that will throw them into a new immersive fictional (or nonfictional, for that matter) experience.

Our escape room registration filled up several days before the event. We opened more slots, and it immediately filled again. The kids came ready to solve, and every group managed to finish nicely within the 30-minute time limit. The beauty of a program like this is that the core elements will remain the same: locks, invisible ink, objects tucked into secret places, messages to decode. But each time they can be rearranged and done with a different theme so that the same set of participants can return and get something totally new. This is what has made escape rooms so accessible and universally popular.

IMG_20180720_141127808

This summer was the library’s first attempt at an escape room, but it was so popular and fun that we’ve got one planned for adults in September. So, if this sounds interesting to you, keep an eye on our program schedule, like us on Facebook and Instagram @anbllibrary, and check the website regularly. And be sure to register early!

 

 

Advertisements

Secrets of the Century

by Kelly

One hundred years ago, the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library opened its doors to the community of Belding, Michigan. Paid for by Alvah Norton Belding and built in memory of his parents Hiram and Mary Belding, the library has served as a foundation for free and public education for a century.

On May 19, 2018, from 1 to 6 pm, the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library will host a Centennial Celebration in honor of this historic library and its visionary founder.

The celebration will include performances from the Belding Pops vocal group, the Belding High School Leadership Band, a dedication by the City of Belding for the City’s mural that graces the wall between the library and the Gathering Place, and a ribbon cutting and rededication of the library itself, to welcome in the next century of library service to the community.

However, I feel the most intriguing aspect of the Centennial Celebration will be the opening of our time capsule, a secret copper box that was placed within the cornerstone of the building in 1917, during the library’s construction.

What treasures from a hundred years ago does the time capsule contain? Come to the Centennial Celebration to find out! The items inside the time capsule in the cornerstone have been hidden inside the building for an entire century, just waiting to come out! I have always found this building and the history it represents to be very special, but knowing that there is a box of secret treasure inside the cornerstone gives the library a quality that is almost magical.

The time capsule will be opened for the public to view as part of the celebration ceremony, and the items will remain on display inside the library through July of 2018, when the box and its original contents will be replaced inside the cornerstone along with some new items to be kept securely hidden for the next century. New items added to the future mystery box will  include the selected winners of our essay and artwork contest, which was open to all Belding public school students.

Please plan to join us May 19 at 1:00 pm, and be part of history in the making. The library will be a showcase of history and will offer staff-led library tours, photograph displays, musical entertainment, food, and more! We look forward to bringing in a new century with you all!

 

 

CentennialInvite

 

Behind the Name

by Kelly

The Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library celebrates its centennial anniversary in May of 2018, an event that surely factored into my decision to join the ANBL team last last year. As a historian, I always jump at the opportunity to be a part of something that not only will become part of history, but is also history itself. The Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library is no exception.

As a member of the planning committee for the library’s Centennial Celebration, my recent duty has been to gather history of both the library and the man whose name adorns the building.

Just who was Alvah N. Belding, anyway, and why did he build a library here?

I found answers to these questions in the many resources available here at the library, including published histories, newspaper archives, photographs, and paper files. Most of the information detailed here can be referenced in the publication Belding Bros. & Co., 1863-1913.

Alvah N. Belding was born in 1838 in Ashfield, Massachusetts, to Hiram and Mary Belding. He was the youngest of four boys, all of whom possessed an adventurous and entrepreneurial spirit.

BeldingBrothers

In 1855, Alvah Belding traveled with his father to Michigan, where he cleared land for his father’s farm, and helped build the dam which furnished water-power for the Patterson Saw Mill. In those days, Belding was called “Patterson’s Mill,” not taking on the name of “Belding” until 1871, after Hiram Belding purchased a great deal of land from Levi Broas, the original pioneer of the area. (The section of land Belding purchased from Broas was the area north of Liberty and east of Broas streets.)

The Belding brothers’ entrepreneurship led them to manufacture and sell silk, beginning as a partnership in 1857, then establishing the Belding Brothers & Company in 1863. The brothers sold silk across many states, and were regarded as fair and decent businessmen who employed many, and treated their workers with the utmost respect.

Business aside, the Belding brothers exhibited a great many values, including community pride, family togetherness, and belief in the importance of education. Because of their dedication to education, Alvah Belding and his brother Milo each gifted money for the establishment of a public library. Alvah’s library was in their adopted hometown of Belding, Michigan; Milo’s library was in their original hometown of Ashfield, Massachusetts.

BeldingLibrary1950s

Belding Library Ashfield

 

 

This year marks the one-hundredth year of the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library. A Centennial Celebration is currently being planned for May 19, 2018, from 1pm to 6pm. We invite the community of Belding and any others who wish to attend and share in our gratitude for Alvah N. Belding and his commitment to the future of the city which bears his name.

 

Panic! At the Library

by Britney

Hello to all of you out there in Reader Land. (Waves enthusiastically.) Today’s post is for you!

I am a series reader. Though I enjoy single titles, and admire authors who can tell a tale from start to finish and contain it within the confines of a front and back cover, I prefer multi-volumes. When I read a story I really enjoy that has characters I like, I am always glad to get to spend more time with them in subsequent installments. I also like the additional glimpses I get into different worlds, cultures, and times. After all, if J.R.R. Tolkien had stopped writing after The Hobbit, I would have thought Middle Earth consisted only of The Shire and the Misty Mountains, and I never would have gotten to meet the Rohirrim, or seen the White City. See what  mean?

However, I must admit to a short-lived moment of sheer panic when I read the last word of the last book in series. Ahhh! What am I going to read now??? What if I don’t like it??? What if it’s not as good as the books I just read??? But I want something EXACTLY LIKE what I just finished!!!

mickey gif

This is where I force myself to take a deep breath, and I assure myself that everything will be ok. I will find another book. I will discover new, awesome characters. I will traverse another imaginary land in search of action and adventure.

Now, be honest. How many of you out there experience this same sense of dread when you finish a book? Perhaps you look over at your TBR pile to find it has grown claws and threatens to crush you if you don’t pick a book to read immediately. The PRESSURE! Time is a valuable commodity, and you don’t have any to waste on a book you don’t like.

sponge bob book

Never fear. I’m here to help.

Did you know librarians are trained in something called “reader’s advisory?” Reader’s advisory involves us talking to people about a wide variety of things in an effort to pair them with their next “perfect read.” Here are some things we may ask you:

*What are some of the TV shows you like to watch?

*What types of music do you listen to?

*What do you do in your free time?

*Which books have you enjoyed in the past?

*What were your favorite books when you were a kid?

*Which books have you read that you disliked?

*Are you a history buff? Are you interested in space? Animals? Travel?

*Do you like to listen to things while you work/exercise/study?

If you think some of these questions have nothing to do with reading, you’d be right. But they all help give us information that will allow us to learn your interests, and your likes and dislikes, to help us help you find a great book. Books aren’t just about reading; they’re about experiencing all that book has to offer. And that is a multi-faceted process.

So next time you close the cover on a book you’ve just finished, don’t panic. Rather, look at it as a challenge. And then let us at the library be your book warriors and help you attack the Next Book Wilderness!

liono

Seed “Library”

by Kelly

As the Adult Services Coordinator for ANBL I spend my days planning enjoyable, unique, and informative programs and providing a variety of resources for the Library’s 18-and-older community. From playing bingo with our Seniors during our monthly “Senior Social” program to teaching family history research, and planning the Library’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, my job is full of fun tasks and interesting people.

Despite being a century old, the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library is anything but dry and boring. Library staff members are constantly thinking up fresh ways to deliver materials and programs to the community that are progressive and non-conventional by “traditional” library standards.

One of these “non-traditional” library collections we are excited to bring to the community in the spring of 2018 is our Seed Library. A seed library is exactly what it sounds like – a collection of vegetable, flower, and herb seeds that patrons can check out for free, and take home to plant in their own gardens.

With the help of the Community Seed Resource Program at Seed Savers Exchange and a local patron gardener, the library has a nice start-up kit of vegetables and herbs to offer patrons beginning this spring.

In anticipation of the ANBL Seed Library, we are hosting a “Starting Seeds” program on Monday, February 19 at 6:00pm at the library, where participants can learn about starting seeds, discover potting soil recipes for optimal growth, and even take with them  seed samples to start at home.

Seed libraries are popping up all over the country, and offer library-users and their communities a place to store, share, and learn about this non-traditional library resource. And then, at the end of the growing season, library gardeners can choose to give back to the seed library by donating seeds from their own harvested crops, or by leaving a review or growing tips for the following season.

We love to see our library patrons learn and “grow.” Look for the ANBL Seed Library to start circulating early this spring, and keep an eye on the adult program calendar for a complete listing of programs and events.

Happy planting!

Coming Home

Guest post by Tricia Slavens

I grew up in the Alvah N. Belding Memorial Library. Well, not literally, but that would have been cool.

I remember being really excited when my family moved two blocks away from the library, and not just because it would shorten my walk. A self-professed bookworm, it was one of my favorite things to spend an afternoon in the children’s library downstairs (despite the rumors amongst my classmates that it was haunted) picking armfuls of books off the shelves to browse through. My sisters and I would explore the foot-beaten path behind the library by the river. Neighborhood kids were always around to play “Mother May I” on the steps.

As a broody teen I would sit in the chairs reading for hours or just walking along the rows of books. I just liked being there. I loved the smell of the books and the quiet. Growing up with four younger sisters meant quiet was a luxury not easily found in my house. After the school libraries closed for the night I’d take my homework to ANBL. I’m old enough to remember when the library got computers, then the internet. I spent many days agonizing over when it would be my turn to log on and chat with friends or play online games.

Like some kids do, I grew up and moved away.  As an adult I visited the libraries in the new cities I lived in but it wasn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong, some of them were very beautiful. Others were a little lack-luster. But none of them were my hometown library.

As it happens, I ended up back in little old Belding. One of my first stops after getting settled in town was to bring my daughter to the place that had been such a big part of my adolescence – the library.  We immediately got ourselves library cards and I was so happy to see that some things hadn’t changed. The feeling of being completely awed as I walked through the door was still there.

library back night

It was to our mutual excitement to find that the downstairs children’s library was greatly expanded and positively enhanced. ANBL continues to expand with the Overdrive App, which lets patrons access eBooks and eAudio books, which I could not live without. There are also so many free programs to join and activities to attend.

Now my daughter will get the benefit of having this library be a part of her life. With the evolution of the technology and social media, it’s nice to have something as awesome as ANBL in common with her.

 

The Library is so grateful to Tricia for being willing to write this guest post for our blog. We love hearing about the role the Library plays in the community!