Harry Potter theme followed in library's first-ever escape room event

Ruby Howell
Pratt Tribune
A group of women met at the Pratt Public Library last week to work their way through the first-ever escape room offered there. Successfully completing the puzzle were (from left) Lea Ann Holland, Louise Pelzl, Debby Blatchley, Abigail Skiles, Marsha Barker, Tammy Killough, and (in the foreground) Derese McAbee.

Employees at the Pratt Public Library are transforming spaces inside as they get ready for their first escape room. Just like escape rooms in bigger towns, this event involves a team of people who agree to be locked into a room together where they must follow clues and solve riddles within a certain time frame to find the key to unlock the room and get out.

The Pratt Public Library has chosen the theme of “Harry Potter: Quest for the Quidditch Gear,” for an interactive summer experience for those who register. Contestants will solve puzzles to help them find and unlock the missing quidditch gear. For those not familiar with Harry Potter, quidditch is a sport played on flying brooms with several balls and goals and a complex scoring system. Like any sport, one cannot practice without equipment and so the fun begins.

Abigail Skiles, a librarian for PPL, said that the escape room will be open July 26-30 in Pratt. They are transforming the library auditoriums into two magnificent rooms worthy of Hogwarts itself, where teams will solve riddles, mix potions, and even fight a dragon to collect the clues they need to complete their quest. Since the challenge can take 45-60 minutes to finish, the days have been divided into hour time slots and the library asks that contestants register for a spot, which Skiles said they can do any time leading up to the week of the escape room or during the week itself – either in person at the library or over the phone at (620)672-3041.

The Harry Potter Escape Room is for all ages. Skiles said that each team must have 4-8 people and at least one adult, and there is no cost. 

“Anyone who loves Harry Potter or escape rooms (or is roped in by someone who loves Harry Potter or escape rooms) is welcome,” Skiles said. “Everything you need to solve the puzzles is provided in the clues and the props, so don’t think you have to exceed expectations on Harry Potter trivia to participate. If you want to join in the fun but can’t get enough people for a team, let us know and we’ll connect you with others who have the same problem.” 

The library ordered an escape room manual as a finale for last year’s summer reading program but were unable to open it due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Needless to say, Skiles and her fellow staff are twice as excited to put it on this year. Staff at the library began working on props, puzzles, and decorations in the early spring of this year.

“The mission of the Pratt Public Library is to foster lifelong learning by providing materials and services which will serve the educational, cultural, professional, and recreational needs of the community,” Skiles said. “We love finding innovative ways to fulfill our mission! The Harry Potter Escape Room is one among many programs we put on in an effort to make the library a fun place to be.”