Puzzle Me This: Connecting User Communities With Libraries Through Puzzles Mathew Willmott, MIT Science Library • The MIT Libraries Puzzle Challenge • In October of 2007, the MIT Libraries embarked on a new type of marketing campaign, and released the first of a series of puzzles to the MIT Community. Five more puzzles were published throughout the course of the 2007-08 academic year. Each puzzle required the use of at least one library resource to find the solution, and students who correctly solved a puzzle during the given time period were entered into a drawing to receive an iPod Nano. • Goals of the campaign • Survey data showed us that advertising should be more engaging; thus we designed puzzles that would: • Be fun for students to solve • Made puzzles challenging but not impossible • Modeled puzzles after MIT Mystery Hunt • Introduce students to new resources • Citation searching in Web of Science • Paper reviews in MathSciNet • Urban planning history in Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps • Advisory database for business, management, and economics • Marketing strategies and locations • Each puzzle had a solving period of about two weeks, during which we tried to use pointed marketing strategies in various locations to advertise to students who would be interested in solving them. • Most successful locations: • Lobby 7, MIT’s main lobby • Puzzle page in The Tech, MIT’s twice-weekly campus newspaper • Spotlight on MIT’s home page • Other locations, with mixed success: • Facebook • MIT Libraries News Blog • Slides before on-campus movies • Fliers at library desks • These advertisements were designed to focus on the puzzle; solutions were submitted through an online form. • What did we learn? • Get to know the audience you’re advertising to: • MIT students are problem-solvers, and so puzzles were effective • Engage people with a fun activity: • Solvers actually used the resources rather than just hearing about them • Consider your target audience when choosing advertising locations: • TheTech’s puzzle page got the most attention. • Next Steps • Currently conducting a survey of solvers: • What they liked about the campaign • Whether they learned anything about library resources • What they think about advertising locations • Considering conducting a focus group to get more detailed feedback For more information: Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the MIT Libraries’ puzzle page at http://libraries.mit.edu/puzzle.
Puzzles Puzzle Construction: An In-Depth Example The main goal in the construction of these puzzles was to guide the users to a resource and show them some way in which it could be useful to them in the future. Other Puzzle Examples • Compendex • Column 1: ISSN numbers • Column 2: Compendex reference numbers • Not solvable with Google alone • First puzzle released • 38 correct solutions received • Puzzle highlights the Dewey Research Advisor (DRA): • New, lesser-known resource • Patrons could find it useful • Solvers are directed to the DRA by the letters in bold italics scattered throughout the lower half • Solvers use the DRA to find the answers to the questions with the appropriate number of letters • Answers can be entered into the grid so that the elongated boxes contain a single letter: • MathSciNet • Highlights peer reviews • Grayed lines refer to MathSciNet MR numbers • 32 correct solutions received • Inventions of Note sheet music collection • (created at MIT) • Word search in which the unused letters are the important piece • 67 correct solutions received • The completed grid reads “Answer is Milton Friedman” in the grayed boxes • 109 students submitted a correct solution to this puzzle Now it’s your turn! Solve this puzzle to get an MIT Libraries keychain! (attach sample puzzle here) • Sanborn fire insurance maps • Pictures are counties in Massachusetts, solvers need to identify the highlighted town • Numbers below each picture tell the solver which Sanborn map of that town to use. • 56 correct solutions received
Statistical Results • Dewey Research Advisor statistics • Puzzle released in November. Statistical analyses showed significant increases in usage during November (and September when I was writing the puzzle) • Top chart: Total queries to the DRA search box by month during 2007; November had a 200% increase over October. • Middle chart: Answer pages accessed in the DRA, either through queries or through browsing the questions; November had a 40% increase over October. • Lower chart: Total web traffic to the MIT Libraries webpages for the month of November 2007. November 20, the day the puzzle had a spotlight on the main MIT homepage, had 7796 visits, almost 2800 visits (56%) more than the second highest day that month. • Inventions of Note web traffic • Red=puzzle open for answer submission • Green=puzzle in construction • Blue=remainder of the spring semester • Average visits per day for the blue section = 136 • Average visits per day for the red section = 304 Solver statistics Submission count by student status (correct solutions in parentheses) • 237 different MIT students solved at least one puzzle • 23 students solved three or more puzzles • 3 students solved all six puzzles. • 122 students requested to be notified directly via email when future puzzles are released • Chart at right tells where students reported that they first saw the puzzle What students are saying: “…thanks also for providing a fun distraction from work throughout the year. I only wish you'd started these earlier in my time at MIT.” “I had a lot of fun solving the puzzles!” “The puzzles were unexpected, entertaining, and a welcome distraction from everyday work. Seriously, what MIT student wouldn’t be intrigued by a cryptic list of numbers, especially if it isn’t on a p-set?” “It succeeded in not only being entertaining, but I actually learned a great deal more about the MIT library tools. Keep it up in the future!” “More frequent library puzzles, please.”