Library Orientation Mystery- The Hunt for the Seventh

Our discussion Prompt for this week: Describe how you could entice readers with a mystery or suspense book as a librarian. 

This week I fumbled around a bit at first because all my ideas applied to the classroom not necessarily the library: enticing kids to attend tutorials after school and such. Then I stumbled upon an article titled, “Launching the Library Mystery Tour” which discussed a problem their university freshmen getting acquainted with their library. (Kashbohm)  They basically set up a murder mystery scenario that said someone had murdered F. Scott Fitzgerald. The freshman followed clues to various areas of the library and to key people in the library until they found enough clues to determine the murderer. It is basically a scavenger hunt with a murder mystery theme. Here is how it worked:

Students had to go to a group study room to find one clue, and they used the movable shelves for another. Information for the solution came from books, print and electronic journals, reference databases, and people in the library so that students would see a variety of resources. (p.40)

I thought this was a brilliant, fun way to orient the students to the library. I also thought about all the break out boxes that seem to be all the rage right now. That could add some fun. I did a search on good-ole youtube and found this fun one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoXLWZMwORA  This teacher librarian used the book Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library as a theme for her breakout boxes. In the video she references https://www.breakoutedu.com/welcome , so I took a look at that website. I need to take some time to explore this whole site some more because there is a lot here! I’m not sure that the locks and boxes really add much of value for what I’m thinking. Maybe after I learn a little more about them, I’ll warm up to the idea.

I teach middle school so I’m planning this for that age group. My plan for my library is to have a The Hunt for the Seventh themed orientation (Morton-Shaw). This book is a delightful ghost story with a bit of mystery and suspense–a trifecta! Jim keeps hearing “Find the Seventh” and sees ghosts silently trying to warn him. There are statues all over the creepy manor. He finds something which looks like a curse saying, “If the seven stones dishonored be, And slain the noble willow tree, Revenge will come each thirty year, Til seven infant deaths bring fear” (Morton-Shaw).  He also starts finding bits of cryptic poetic clues near the statues of children which have all died on the property. He must figure out what they mean to save another child from dying, the seventh child to die on that property. And he must do it before time runs out.

I could show the students the trailer for the book:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHE1mMPpgmA.

I didn’t make this trailer and it is not perfect. I would probably make my own.
After that I’ll give the first clue telling them they must find the 7th clue before the timer goes off (or dismissal bell rings) to win.

Each clue can do two things:

  1. Give them a bit of information about the library such as “How many books can I check out at a time?” 5 books or “How long can I keep the books” 2 weeks.
  2. The second bit of information is a clue like: “If the seven stones dishonored be, Find the second in Haunted Houses.” They use the catalog to locate a book called Haunted Houses 133.1 WIL.

Next clue could be, “If the seven stones dishonored be, Find the third, where books fall on returning day.” (The book drop) and so forth. If I had a large class I could have 2 different sets of clues. Or I could do a simple version for 6th grade, and a more advanced one for 7th grade. Now I’m excited to try this!

Reference

Kashbohm, K.E., Schoen, D., & Dubaj, M.(2006). Launching the library mystery tour. College & Undergraduate Libraries. 13(2). 35-46.

Morton-Shaw, C. (2009). Hunt for the Seventh. New York:Katherine Tegen Books.

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