WARSAW — Anna Jackson has an idea for those looking for something to do during spring break: get yourselves locked in a Warsaw Community Public Library room together.
The suggestion, of course, is only metaphorical. As a public entity, the library is prohibited from physically locking anyone in a room.
The room Jackson refers to is the current incarnation of the library’s escape room and, as Rod Serling used to say, “You unlock this door with the key of imagination.”
The concept of the popular diversion is simple. Search the room, find hidden objects and clues, solve puzzles and figure out the key to escape.
Or in this case, eight keys. “This is the most locks we have ever had,” said Jackson, the library’s young adult librarian, of the escape room themed “Easter Bunny Going Rogue.” Participants must solve logic and sudoku puzzles, go on an Easter egg hunt and find other clues, in no particular order, to decode the combinations or find keys to unlock three tabletop boxes.
If all the locks are opened within the 40- to 45-minute time limit — counted down on a laptop screen in the room — the group can claim a successful escape. Jackson estimated about 60 percent of the groups prevail in their quest. For those who get stuck, a hint hotline is available.
The escape room, free to the public, will operate at the top of each hour Thursday and Friday, April 4-5, during library hours. The first group will begin at 10 a.m.; the last at 5 p.m. The library closes at 6 p.m. each day.
“Call our office at (574) 267-6011 and hit 4 for the adult desk reference department,” invited Jackson. “We can get them scheduled. We are taking only phone calls or in person reservations to avoid confusion.”
The library has hosted nearly a dozen escape rooms during the past two years. “We had one over the Christmas break. It was more popular than I thought it would be and we had to run it 14 times because there was so much interest. People kept calling in about it.
“We usually get ideas from other libraries or from an awesome website that writes them or collects what people send in.” The Easter version is “the first one we wrote ourselves.”
The adventure is “appropriate for all ages,” she said, “so families can take part. It is always fun. People will think it is more for children but it is also fun for the adults. We’ve had two or three groups of adults test the puzzles and they said they were fun and challenging.”
Children 8-12 years old can enjoy their own escape room, themed after a sea turtle, during library hours Thursday and Friday, April 11-12.
Jackson said the optimum group size is five to seven people so “there are more brains and everyone has input,” but groups of two or three may also sign up or join up with another small group.
Jackson offered some advice on how to get the most out of the experience.
“Be prepared to have fun and don’t get too serious,” she said. “Definitely think outside the box. Don’t get too focused on doing things in a certain order and always look around the room for clues.
“Feel free to use, but not misuse, any tools in the room, like a pen or pencil, scotch tape or write on the whiteboard. Don’t think about it as a chore or task. It is ultimately a game.”