Community puzzle project reflects atmosphere of local library

Published 8:29 am Tuesday, January 7, 2020

One of the tables in the back of the library features a pile of puzzle pieces that spreads out for the table’s whole width. To the average passersby, it is just a fun little project they can work on in their downtime. To the staff, though, it represents the very culture of their establishment.

Adult Services Coordinator at the Elizabethton/Carter County Library Maryann Owen said the idea started in October as just a fun little activity patrons could do.

“I did not know if it would take off or not,” Owen said.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The result, however, was remarkable. She said patrons would sometimes look at it as they passed by, only to then come back about 30 minutes later and work on it for a little bit.

The original puzzle came from a patron’s donation, Owen said, as were the next three.

“Sometimes people do not know they need to relax,” she said. “It is something that slows you down.”

When combined with a recent plastic bin of art supplies for patrons to use if they cannot attend her regular Coloring Connection sessions, though, Owen said the culture of the library is shaping up to be more than just a place for books.

“I always thought we should be a major hub of the community,” she said. “I tell people it is their library. We are just here to serve them.”

She said a library like this one, for many patrons, may be someone’s only source of community engagement they get on a regular basis.

“It is delightful,” she said. “This is what you want to count on.”

She said little projects like this can be just as successful as the large projects with advertising and flashy lights.

“You read every day about how people feel disconnected,” Owen said. “That is important.”

For those who may be looking to donate their own puzzle to the library, Owen said 1,000-piece puzzles are popular, though not expressly required. She said she cannot wait to see this seemingly small activity expand and grow.

“Maybe we can swap with other libraries later,” Owen said with a smile on her face.

The library itself is located at 201 N. Sycamore St.