The Disappearance of Daniel Bennett

The River Campus Libraries teamed up with regional peers to create a literacy escape room
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Students gathered around a laptop on a table

Beginning in the spring of 2017, four librarians from the River Campus Libraries partnered with five colleagues from SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and two gaming masterminds from Genesee Valley (GV) BOCES created an escape room “experience” that would teach information literacy skills using this fun, challenging, and on-trend format.

The first step was engaging in an escape experience to observe the key essentials of clues, puzzles, connections, lock boxes, time limits, teamwork, and creative thinking. Step two: devising a research process scenario and tracking the concepts to the ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries) Information Literacy Framework and the AASL (American

Association of School Librarians) Standards Framework for Learners, making this escape room versatile enough for a high school or university audience.

The end result was The Disappearance of Daniel Bennett. The scenario focuses on a student council leader who wrestles with the ethical dilemma of supporting security spyware placed on all students’ digital devices in an effort to curb cyber bullying. In the end, Daniel can’t make a decision, so he leaves it to his classmates – those engaging in the escape experience.

The game was tested numerous times on various audiences, including RCL staff, Victor IB high school students, and the University of Rochester’s Early Connections Opportunity and Early Connections Africa summer students, before being presented at two national conferences. Kim Hoffman, Head, Outreach, Learning, and Research Services, RCL worked with Michelle Costello (SUNY Geneseo), and Brian Mayer (GV BOCES) to engage about 40 librarians at the annual American Libraries Association conference (New Orleans, 2018) and Eileen Daly-Boas Librarian for Philosophy & Education, Outreach, Learning, and Research Services, RCL presented the game with Brian Mayer (GV BOCES) to about 15 at GenCon, the largest tabletop gaming convention in North America (Indianapolis, 2018).

The Disappearance of Daniel Bennett is an open educational resource (OER). The storyline, instructions, and all materials can be downloaded for free and played by anyone.