As staff at the Free Public Library of Monroe Township worked from home during COVID, they participated in webinars to come up with ideas on how to make the library better. One that stuck out to Adult Programing and Community Outreach Librarian, Jennifer Shillig was the idea of games and activities for adults, including a jigsaw puzzle contest.
“I contacted Princeton library in the spring to ask about the particulars of these contests,” said Shillig. “I patterned mine after that.”
The library began hosting puzzle contests in July, when it reopened after the pandemic. Patrons could sign up individually or in groups to complete a 500-piece puzzle in under two hours. The winners – team or individual – earned prizes that included coupons for ice cream, free bowling or fast food.
On the rare occasion when a puzzle is not completed in time, those with the fewest pieces left win.
“It has not happened yet in the few times that I have had it, where a puzzle does not get finished in that time frame,” said Shillig, who has held two contests so far.
Some of the contest puzzles were purchased through the library, but many were donated from the community. The library accepts donations of 500-piece puzzles in good condition with all their pieces.
The next contest takes place on Nov. 30, and as of deadline, 22 people have signed up for 28 available seats.
While the puzzle contest is among the most popular adult programs at the library, there are many others. Every two weeks, the facility hosts its lunch and a movie program, but with the holiday season approaching, it is temporarily once a week, the better to show holiday classics like “A Christmas Carol” and “The Nutcracker.” Patrons bring lunch and beverages are provided.
The library also hosts an adult craft night every month, paint night parties every two months with Gina Martucci and monthly Bingo games.
“We have to get adults to enjoy themselves and realize it is not just books and computers we offer,” Shillig noted. “We want to get adults to socialize with each other – adults and seniors – with creative stuff and games. It helps to keep their minds and social lives active.”
For more information about library events, visit http://monroetpl.org.