When it comes to building a fun adventure, having your player stop at a library is almost an auto-include. Libraries are fantastic for many reasons:

  • They’re open during regular, predictable hours

  • They’re (usually) quiet

  • They’re free.

In this blog, I’ll be talking about the different ways you can use a library, some things you can focus on, and a few tidbits to remember.

The  Champaign public library  is SUPER nice

The Champaign public library is SUPER nice

Step 1: Find the right library

Check out your local library.  It’s worth making a pit stop to check out the library.  Chances are you might never have stepped foot in it!  Some libraries are super nice and pristine. Others can be a bit jank.  Make sure your local library works for your adventure!

*Note - find the location of all libraries in the area.  You’ll want to make sure your instructions are clear.  You don’t want to accidentally send your player to the wrong place!

Step 2: Using the library

There are a bunch of ways you can incorporate a library. They range from the very simple to the very complex. Here's some of the options:


1. Hide something in a book. 

This is a simple and very secure dead drop. Give your player an address or driving instructions and then include a library book number.  There is something really exciting about walking through the aisles of a library hunting for the correct book. Once they grab the envelope, they can move on!


2. Use the book to decode a message. 

Maybe in the previous envelope, they also got a slip of paper with an Ottendorf cipher on it.  They arrive at the correct book and use the letters within the pages to decode where to go next.


3. Check out the book to use later.

It's not a bad idea to have the library be the first stop. Your player can then use the book they check out to decode all messages.

Keep in mind that if they’ve never been to the library before, it might eat some time when they have to get a library card in order to check out the book. 

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Things to remember 

- If you have a theme for the adventure, why not choose a book that fits the theme.  Even if it’s just the title of the book, it’s a fun way to help tie everything together.


- I STRONGLY RECOMMEND choosing a book with duplicates at the library. The odds of one book getting checked out at any given time is pretty low.  The odds of all the copies of a book being checked out at the same time is extremely small.  When you do this, you can stop by the library to drop the envelope early in the day and don't run the risk of it being gone.

- “Should I check in with the librarians to let them know what I’m doing?” This one is up to you. It’s not really necessary since you’re not doing anything disruptive.  In the 35 adventures I’ve run, I’ve used a library 5 times and I’ve never had an instance where I spoke with the librarian prior to the adventure. 

Feel free to leave a question or a comment if you'd like me to blog about anything specific next time.


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