June 23rd, 2024

Library’s Austen escape room boon for book lovers

By Justin Seward - Lethbridge Herald on November 29, 2022.

Herald photo by Justin Seward The university team works to complete the Jane Austen Escape Room at the Lethbridge Public Library's Crossings Branch.

Lethbridge Public Library’s Crossings Branch was the site for the first-ever Jane Austen Escape Room on Saturday.

The Escape Room idea came up between branch coworkers Emily Kundrik and Jordan MacKinnon.

“Her and I sat down and we wanted to come up with a program that we could do in the winter because the winter gets really crappy and we wanted a place for family and friends to come and have something to do,” said MacKinnon, a customer service assistant at the branch. “So we came up with the Escape Room because her and I really like doing them outside of work. So we wanted to somehow bring this into the library.”

Both employees came to the decision they wanted to do a literary Escape Room for the first one.

“So we both really like Jane Austen,” said MacKinnon. “So that’s how the Jane Austen (escape room) came to be with that.”

The duo used their knowledge of Austen to create clues that would be easy for an Escape Room.

MacKinnon considers Austen to be up there with the likes of Shakespeare.

“We wanted to pull main characters, main ideas kind of from her stories and they were written in Regency era,” explained MacKinnon. “So that had a lot of tea times, that had dancing, that had books, readings and letters. So we did a lot of our clues based on that. So we had a dancing clue which you had to spell the word dance with music notes. We had a page cipher clue, so you actually had to go into her books and find words and letters in the books to actually help you unlock a book. So that got people involved in it and then we also had a matching clue. So you had to know who got with who by the end of the book.”

Participants were only given parts of a clue and they had to work through one clue to get to another clue.

“So that way they actually are challenged to actually to kind of have to A, B, C even though they started with C; they have to go back,” she said.

Clues were also spread throughout the room.

“We didn’t make it easy,” she said. “We didn’t lay it out. You actually have to explore and go through and look for things and so that was another way we challenged them.”

University student Kaitlynn Zimmer said it was quite fun.

“I wasn’t really too sure what to expect,” said Zimmer. “I’ve been to a couple of Escape Rooms before. But going it was quite fun in terms of having a Jane Austen-themed one. And then I think coming out, it was just kind of learning how Jane Austen could be incorporated in so many different ways in terms of clues. So that was fun for me.”

She thought the most challenging part was piecing everything together.

Eva Gatner’s favourite part was combining so many aspects of literature, music and math.

“It was really good to have a diverse group of people for this,” said Gatner.

Plans are in the works for a Pokémon Escape Room in February and a Star Wars one in May.

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