When the COVID-19 began to shut down the world, Arlington resident Allegra Jabo was one of many who spent their newfound time working on puzzles.
“When everything first shut down for the pandemic and we were all inside waiting for the few weeks to be over, we started working on the puzzle we had bought for our canceled beach trip,” said Jabo.
As time progressed, people began finishing their puzzles and were looking for new ones. Jabo was one of these people, despite being in a small group of enthusiasts who had been swapping puzzles — so she decided to go bigger.
Jabo owns a business called The Science Seed, which offers a program designed to introduce science to preschool and early elementary school children. Before the pandemic, she was using the entryway of her home as a swap spot for her business. When her business shut down, along with schools, Jabo decided to turn her entryway into a swap spot for puzzles.
“At first, I was worried about maintaining our puzzle supply as we became more popular, but with so many people having time on their hands to clean out their houses, we continue to receive lots of donations,” said Jabo. There are now over 300 puzzles at Jabo’s house — all donations from other residents — and donations are still being accepted.
“To donate, [people] can drop off in the drop-off corner of our entryway,” said Jabo. “If they know of any missing pieces, they can put a Post-It on the box to let me know so I can add that information to the library note taped to the box.”
As the pandemic wanes and more things reopen, Jabo’s business will need her entryway back so she’s been looking for a new place to move the puzzle library.
“I do not plan on simply abandoning the library,” said Jabo. “I am actively working on finding a permanent home for the library and hope to move it into a community center or library branch.”
She said the experience of running the puzzle library has been both rewarding and surprising.
“The library’s success has been a surprise, and the many notes of gratitude I get online and in Post-It form have been truly lovely to receive during this crazy year,” said Jabo. “A woman visiting the other day told me the library has been her favorite part of the pandemic. It has been very rewarding and I’m grateful I’ve been able to do something seemingly so small to bring a little joy to puzzlers during this time.”
The Douglas Park Little Free Puzzle Library can be found at 1706 S. Lowell Street and is open 24/7 for puzzlers of all ages. More information and updates can be found on its Facebook page.
Photo courtesy Allegra Jabo