At Nova, there is a tradition that goes back long before I started working here of providing jigsaw puzzles to the law students. There’s always one at the circulation desk and one at the reference desk and often a third one going at another part of the law library.
At first, I thought it was cool, but a little odd. Puzzles are not a typical law library fixture. They take up space, pieces fall on the floor…not everyone’s into puzzles. But I’ve really come to fall in love with them. Professors, students, pro se patrons, sanitation workers, library staff, and campus security all come and play with the puzzle. And while they play with the puzzle, they chat. And in doing so, we learn about needs that may not otherwise have been met.
Sometimes, when a professor or student is working on a particularly tough research puzzle, you’ll see them come and play with the pieces for a while. As they create a part of the picture, you can almost see the light bulb come up over their head as engaging a different part of their brain lets them untie the Gordian Knot they’d created in their head.
Some people do a piece a day and it’s a chance to say hi with a smile. It’s also fun to occasionally find new creative pictures. We put pictures of new and completed puzzles on our Twitter and Facebook feeds so that everyone knows that a new one is available and can follow the puzzle progress.
This past semester, during finals, we added some games to the mix. A couple of traditional favorites: barrel of monkeys, dominoes, Twister, and pickup sticks. Along with a few newer games: Bananagrams and Jenga. It was fun seeing law students playing pick up sticks, spelling out words in Bananagrams, and creating sculptures with Jenga pieces. The monkeys…migrated. We found chains hanging on carrels in the library. It was nice to see students not just using the library for research needs, but also associating it with fun.
The games are back in my office for most of the summer, but the puzzles will remain and we are going to continue, as a library, to look at how to inject fun and levity into the mix. The law is serious business, but if we can help the students keep their sense of humor, it can help them keep their other senses in perspective as well.
What about you? What does your library do for fun?