Angela Swanson had planned to start a puzzle library out of her home in the fall, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit she decided now was the time.
She canvassed friends and cleaned out her own collection to stock the shelves in her carport with puzzles in a variety of colours and sizes. Swanson spread the word through social media, and before long neighbours and strangers were dropping by to pick out their next pandemic puzzle.
"When COVID-19 hit I said, 'I need to do this now and it will give some people things to do while they're inside'," said Swanson.
"Puzzles are fun and they take time to make and you feel like you've accomplished something at the end," said Swanson.
Swanson said she was inspired by small scale book libraries people set up outside their homes. The books are free to borrow and there's no membership needed, Her puzzle library is set up the same way.
Anyone can simply come and take a puzzle, with no obligation to return it, though so far many people do.
"I'm starting to see puzzles returning and going back out," she said.
When a donation comes in, Swanson wipes the box and puts it in quarantine for a few days until it's deemed safe.
It's a good use of an object that can collect dust in some homes.
"We all have puzzles sitting on the shelf and we usually only do them once, and they're expensive."
"So I thought it would be neat to share," Swanson said.
So far about 100 puzzles have been donated. Counting the ones that have been returned and lent out again, she said there have been 180 puzzle transactions in five weeks.
Her friend Becky Estabrooks accounts for about a dozen of those.
Estabrooks and her family normally do one puzzle a year on New Year's Eve.
"It's kind of tradition that usually starts off the new year, then I think, you know we should do more puzzles but then we just never do." Until now.
Estabrooks estimates she and her husband and four kids have completed twelve puzzles this month alone.
"It just sits on the kitchen table in the dining room table and we just kind of come and go."
She said a family puzzle is a low pressure group activity.
"Rather than just go our separate ways and hang out on our devices, in the evenings or in the afternoon, we just take a break and work on puzzles together."
Estabrooks borrowed her first puzzle from the library to support her friend, but it's turned into an activity the family looks forward to.
She said it's become a reprieve for other families too.
"I think it's just a great way to bring the community together and just bring a little bit of joy to people's lives and a little bit of extra family time."
This is what Angela Swanson was after, a moment of reprieve during what is a stressful time for many.
"I've had moms tell me that they do them with their kids."
"Their days are crazy because they have so much going on and then that evening they'll do a puzzle just to relax."
(Credit: Original Post)