We Love Puzzles: A Library vs Library Challenge, Plus Swaps, Books & History

Posted on January 26, 2023 at 4:00 am

By Abra Cole

I come from a long line of puzzlers (people who enjoy puzzles). Growing up, we played with simple shapes with wooden knob handles that we clumsily assembled. As we grew older, the complex puzzles with 1000+ pieces became the standard.

Most holidays and family gatherings still include at least one epic puzzle to put together. The companionable silence and the intermittent collective excitement after a piece is successfully placed is a central part of our get-togethers.

January is the perfect time of year for puzzles.

It’s National Puzzle Month, and January 29 is National Puzzle Day. Also, it’s cold outside, making it difficult to play or just be outside for very long. There are (hopefully) some good holiday leftovers in the freezer for snacking. And if we were lucky, we received fantastic puzzles as gifts for the holiday season.

It’s a great time to break out a puzzle and make a day of it!

Library vs. Library

Here at SCLD, we love a good jigsaw puzzle. In fact, we love them so much that seven of our libraries have accepted an epic puzzle challenge:

These libraries will all be puzzling for the title of “2023 Library Puzzle Champion” by inviting library customers to work on the same puzzle at each location to see who can complete it the quickest. The challenge starts at 12pm, this Saturday, January 28, 2023.

Since each library is open different days and hours, the winner will be declared by taking the puzzle completion day and time and dividing it by the hours the library was open. That way, only the hours when customers could actually work on the puzzle will count.

To see updates about this challenge and which library claims the championship title, check out our social media: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Do you have a favorite library from the list of seven? Stop in to help your library complete the puzzle and win the challenge!

Puzzle & Game Swaps

Need a new challenge at home? You can bring puzzles and games you are done with to the library and swap them for some puzzles and games that are new to you! Here are the details about the upcoming swaps in February and March.

Jigsaw Puzzle & Board Game Swap
For all ages
Trade in your jigsaw puzzles and board games for a new challenge. Please only bring complete puzzles and games that have all their pieces. Puzzles and games can be any age level.

Saturday, Feb 11, 10am–1pm

Saturday, Feb 18, 1–6pm

Saturday, Mar 4, 2–4pm

Tuesday, Mar 14, 1–6pm

Saturday, Mar 18, 1–4pm

Saturday, Mar 25, 10am–1pm

Tuesday, Mar 28, 4–6pm

In Our Collection

Our collection includes books to challenge your brains as well as titles to help you create your own puzzles and board games.

As part of our Library of Things collection, we have several puzzling STEM kits for preschoolers and school-aged kids as well:

Some Puzzle History

The first jigsaw puzzle was a map glued on wood and cut out by John Spilsbury in 1767 Courtesy of Jane Austin Book Club

Some of the first jigsaw puzzles were said to have been created by a London cartographer named John Spilsbury in the 1760s (though they wouldn’t be called jigsaw puzzles until the early 1900s).

Spilsbury pasted maps onto thin pieces of wood, cutting out each country, or other boundary lines, separately. He called them “dissected maps.” They were a popular, though expensive, item for sale in his shop. The purpose was to help the children of wealthy families learn geography. In the following decades, others applied the puzzle idea to other areas of learning, such as history, religious, and moral lessons.

In 2002, National Puzzle Day was established by syndicated columnist Jodi Jill to share her love of all things puzzle. Jill spends her time creating puzzles, talking about puzzles, and encouraging others to try puzzles. Her column Brain Baffler has been in weekly syndication for over 20 years. Passionate about puzzles of all varieties, she decided to honor this worthy hobby with its own day on January 29 each year.

These days all kinds of puzzles, from jigsaw to crosswords, are accessible to all of us. You can find puzzles in most every type of store, crosswords and sudoku in the newspaper and at the checkout stands in grocery stores, and books full of puzzling challenges at your local libraries.

Because puzzles come in all shapes and sizes, there’s bound to be one of interest for everyone—brain teasers, sudoku, crosswords, word searches, logic puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, picture puzzles, and more.

For groups looking to be challenged, escape rooms are a lot of fun. There are several escape room businesses, from Spokane to Coeur d’Alene, that would be happy to lock you and your friends into a puzzle.

Studies have found that doing different types of puzzles can improve visual-spatial reasoning, problem-solving skills, and short-term memory. Puzzles can also help with reducing stress, increase vocabulary and concentration skills, and help with cognitive decline.

Jill’s National Puzzle Day declaration is meant to celebrate all of that.

I wish you exhilarating and fulfilling puzzling experiences!

Abra Cole

Abra Cole works as a Public Services Specialist for Spokane County Library District. She enjoys engaging with library customers, including hearing about their favorite books, hearing about how their gardens are growing, and helping them solve technology troubles with personal mobile devices and the library’s 3D printer. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, expanding her fiber-arts skills, and hanging out in the woods with her family.

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