Footnotes from the Library

Lois Anderson

A few months ago, I was asked to be in charge of the Puzzle section of the SunBird Library. This is what I have discovered. Most people who like to do puzzles think that this activity exercises your brain while it helps use up a few minutes or hours. Those who don’t do puzzles tend to think that puzzles are a waste of time and an act of frustration. I happen to like puzzles; thus, my library assignment.

Most of the puzzle boxes indicate how many pieces are in the box and we try to keep like numbers together. In the first section are 100 to 350 pieces and 500 pieces. The middle section has puzzles of 750 pieces and then 1000 or more. Some large boxes contain more than one puzzle and usually are on the bottom shelves.

A clue to difficulty is the picture on the front of the box or the size of the pieces themselves. If a picture has many tiny pieces it is usually harder than the same type of picture with fewer pieces. We do not try to separate puzzles according to picture type or difficulty.

When a puzzle is donated, on the back we write “SunBird Library” and the date received. We prefer puzzles that are complete and when one of our volunteers completes a puzzle, all the pieces are placed in a plastic bag and then put into the box. If a piece or two are missing, we note on the picture (with a circle or X) where the missing piece is located and write on the box back “piece missing.” If many pieces are missing, we reluctantly discard the puzzle into the recycle bin.

Occasionally, pieces fall out of a box or are found on the floor. These lost pieces are placed in a small plastic bag marked “Lost Pieces” that is on one of the shelves. Most puzzlers know to look for that plastic bag if a piece is missing or if they find a piece on the floor.

A couple of interesting puzzle facts: A group in Sun City last summer worked at the local library on a puzzle of 34,000 pieces. Another group (unknown location) completed a 64,000 piece puzzle in less than four months. Either you love them or you ignore them. No one seems to sit on the fence with this activity!