by June Chase, Homebound Services Clerk
It all started earlier this year when the Management Team of the Library asked all staff members to think of ways to entice more people to come into the Library. All ideas were welcome.
My idea for a Puzzle Exchange began to form during late-February of 2021 while I was fixing a jigsaw puzzle in my living room. While chatting (actually joking) with my family I said, “We should put up a huge shed on our front lawn and start a puzzle exchange. You know, like the small libraries you see throughout town.” That suggestion was strongly shot down as fast as I said it.
I can still remember my first jig-saw puzzle that I received when I was around 5-years old. It was a picture of Rapunzel in a tower window with her hair flowing down the outside to the ground. This triggered me to grow my hair very long, but not to the ground like Rapunzel. Now that’s a story for another day!
It wasn’t until a few years later—around the age of 9—that I became more interested with the actual pastime. I enjoyed watching my mother create a work of art by joining the pieces together. Occasionally I would try to help her, but I was more of a distraction to her, which frustrated her. So, she found a puzzle suited for my age group. She showed me how to separate the pieces, to build the edge first and to sort by colors and shapes. I was hooked from then on. I have to admit that over the years, puzzles have become my winter addiction. I enjoy all types of jigsaw puzzles, from children’s level to extremely hard ones.
The idea for the Puzzle Exchange was rooted deep in my mind for a long time. I mentioned it casually to a few co-workers to test the waters of acceptability. Their positive feedback overwhelmed me. At this time, I also found out that Mead Public Library in Sheboygan already had a puzzle exchange and I was stoked. I was more determined than ever to get one started here at MPL.
So, in March, to get the ball rolling, I emailed Karen (my supervisor) a detailed outline of my idea, which involved erecting a shelving unit in our portico where previous displays had been housed. This location would have a dual purpose. First, to draw more patrons into the Library and second, to provide a convenient location that would be less disruptive to other patrons. This would be a win-win scenario for both me, personally, and for the Library. I was on pins and needles the whole time as I anxiously waited for a response from Karen. In the end, she presented my idea to the management team in April and they all loved it!
In the next phase, I reached out to Mead Public Library and gathered the necessary information which helped me make informed decisions regarding our puzzle exchange that would benefit its operation. MPL offers many activities and programs that span all age groups, from storytimes to the Great Decisions lecture series. Our library has been a prominent staple in our community for many decades that offers our citizens a variety of materials to enrich, connect, and inspire them.
And finally, our newest addition is here! I welcome everyone to come on down to Manitowoc Public Library and enjoy. Take a puzzle, leave a puzzle! It’s “THE PUZZLE EXCHANGE!”