Deerstalker hats, trench coats, magnifying glasses and pipes will be the attire at the East Helena branch of the Lewis and Clark Library on Thursday, Dec. 27, as middle school students arrive ready to sleuth during a Sherlock Holmes-themed lock-in.
Participants will be searching for clues and using the powers of deduction to solve a murder. The script and narrative will be adapted from a kit the library owns and themed around Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective. The evening begins at 7 p.m. and will include pizza and snacks. Until 7 a.m. participants can watch both of the recent Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr. and play mystery-themed board games like Clue.
“There will be lots of silly games and things we do to keep kids awake and engaged,” said Andrea Eckerson, assistant librarian and teen services branch librarian.
The event is the result of Eckerson’s love of Sherlock Holmes and creativity. She received a 2018 Jan Stauber Grant from the Beacon Society. Initially, Eckerson applied for the grant as part of an assignment while pursuing her library sciences degree, but decided later the grant would fit her lock-in murder mystery for teens idea.
“I’ve love Sherlock Holmes, mystery and problem solving,” Eckerson said. “And this fit all of those categories.”
The lock-in’s purpose is to introduce teens to the works of Doyle and his famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.
“Those attending the middle school lock-in will have a lot of fun dressing up, solving mysteries and playing games and puzzles,” said Diane Potter, branch librarian. “It is a very creative grant and I just know that Andrea will execute it in a fine fashion.
“It also teaches the social aspects of reading and discussing literature,” Potter said.
In the past, the Stauber grant has used Sherlock Holmes to teach English, literature, history, mathematics, deductive reasoning, forensics and critical thinking.
This is the second lock-in that the East Helena branch has held. The previous event was a middle school lock-in just for fun with seven youths.
"I think lock-ins create long-term friendships," Eckerson said. She explained that many of the friends she met at lock-ins were very close to her for years.
The mystery lock-in will have a capacity of 12 youths and the library has around half of that number already registered.
Interested parties should visit the East Helena branch of the Lewis and Clark Library to fill out an application. Parents will be responsible for dropping off their child at 7 p.m. on Dec. 27, and picking them up at 7 a.m. on Dec. 28. The event is open to grades sixth through eighth.
Eckerson requests that interested parties have their applications submitted as soon as possible.
The Stauber Grant is awarded in honor of famous Sherlockian Jan Stauber. Stauber was a middle-school teacher who visited classes for decades in the guise of Sherlock Holmes to share the joys of reading with students.
The mystery lock-in is an offshoot of the East Helena branch’s teen library program, which hosts a program from 3:45 to 5 p.m. every Thursday featuring movies, crafts, board games and reading.