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John Jay College of Criminal Justice
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Lloyd Sealy Library

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Students "Escape the Library!" this spring

Four students posing in front of a sign that says 16:55 (time left in challenge)

Since 2013, the Library has co-organized an annual murder mystery-themed scavenger hunt for first-year, transfer, and Summer Bridge students with Student Academic Success Programs (SASP). This year, the challenge evolved into “Escape the Library!”, a group competition inspired by the popular escape-the-room games. Led by a librarian and a Peer Success Coach, student teams solve a mystery using library resources, including real historical documents. This spring’s cohort of 71 mystery solvers explored every corner of the Library and learned how to find information in the catalog and two databases.

The premise: a ghost has trapped everyone in the Library and won’t let anyone leave until they find out where his killer hid from the police. Armed with the ghost’s name and the date of his murder in 1921, students first consult the New York Times archives for an article about the (real) murder. From there, each clue leads to another clue by way of a new library skill, such as locating a book in the stacks. Then students scurry to find the pieces of the murder trial transcript hidden throughout the Library. Finally, each team must construct a properly-formatted APA citation to find a hidden message that reveals where the killer was hiding.

It took most teams the full 45 minutes to finish the challenge, though one team (pictured) completed everything in under 30 minutes. The prize, a free lunch in the cafeteria, so motivated some teams that they had to be (gently) reminded not to sprint in the Library!

Feedback from students has been very positive across the board. The only critique? “Make it more difficult!”

(Photo: Peer Success Coach Kelsey B. led Miranda B., Alondra H., and Aaron P. to win in record time. Printed with permission.)

 

By Robin Davis

Read more from the Spring 2017 issue of Classified Information, the Library's newsletter