Mystery Hunters is an educational library game, which can be played in 4 public library branches in Krakow. The players become detectives who solve mysteries. They receive special ID cards, as well as paper and pencils to make their work easier. During their investigation, they get on the literary trail and solve the mysteries they find on the way by collecting fragments of the solution from various books found in the hints. The map, catalogue and library markings help them in their efforts, teaching them how to use the library. The game was designed by the Szablą i Piórem Foundation in cooperation with the Marshal of Małopolskie Voivodeship (as a part of the Małopolskie Czytanie programme) and the Krakow Festival Office, operator of the UNESCO City of Literature programme in Krakow.
The game has three difficulty levels, depicted on the ID card as stars. In the beginning, the player solves the first four mysteries, thus earning the first star, after which the difficulty of the following four puzzles increases. After completing all 12 of them, the player is given a Mystery Hunter badge. The mysteries concern various areas and disciplines, such as astronomy or zoology, and while solving them, the reader explores educational books on popular science, novels and legends, as well as fairy tales connected with a given field. This way the young players can learn while still having fun.
During their investigation, the players will “meet” fictional detectives such as Pan Samochodzik and Marek Piegus, who will teach them their methods and pass on their knowledge. Those books are marked, so that they stand out from the rest. The players are bound by a special detective’s code of conduct, which was designed to teach children how to behave in a library in an unconventional way. The rules tell them to be quiet and return every book to its proper place, thanks to which the librarians will not have to supervise the game throughout its duration.
The main goal of the game is to make children realise that books are a potent source of knowledge and answers to many of their questions, as well as to encourage them to read and to return to the books that they used during the game.
The game was designed for teams or individual 10-14 year-old players, however, the minimum and maximum ages are flexible, depending on the aptitude of the participants. The game is free, and can be played every day during opening hours of the libraries, without earlier registration or reservation.
Libraries participating in the game:
A test of the game was conducted in Wrocław in 2013. This year, the full version of the game (12 mysteries + groups) was launched in four branches of public libraries in Krakow:
- Nowohucka (Branch no. 8 – Bohaterów Września 26),
- Podgórska (Branch no. 13 – Powroźnicza 2),
- Śródmiejska (Branch no. 16 – Al. Pokoju 33 ),
- Krowoderska (Main Library – Królewska 59).
The Mystery Hunters game is an element of UNESCO Krakow City of Literature programme. The goal of the game is broadening the offerings of public libraries directed at the youngest readers and promoting readership among children, as well as inspiring librarians to look for and employ creative and innovative tools, combining education and entertainment. The project was prepared by Hanna Tucznio, Iwona Tucznio, Bianka Lesik, Barbara Mioduszewska and the author of the game’s concept – Zuzanna Wollny.