I have had a lot of people tell me that with the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, comes a sense of boredom.  I have heard on CBC radio that many individuals are having a hard time concentrating on books and shows now.  So what is going on?  Is the pandemic having an effect on our levels of boredom?

Well, actually, yes it is.   Research out of York University in Toronto shows that we are more likely to feel bored when we are stressed.  I don’t know about you, but a global pandemic which is still gathering speed sure stresses me out!  I was keen to read when the pandemic first kept us home, then I binged on Netflix, cleaned all my closets and cupboards, and then found myself uneasy.   Paying close attention to story lines and plots became harder.  I am reading less now, and walking my dog more.  For those of you without the calming benefits of a hound to follow over hill and dale, the answer awaits you at the library!

The answer for short attention spans and that sense of not wanting to do anything is puzzles!  Yup, puzzles.  I don’t mean to imply that people who do puzzles have short attention spans, but it is something that you can do for a while and then just get up and walk away.  When you pick it up again, you don’t have to remember where you left off.  The pieces lie beckoning before you!  And, every time you fit a piece correctly into the puzzle, you get a small shot of dopamine in the reward  of your brain!

Puzzles have come a long way in the last twenty years, and today you can get puzzles with pictures of famous art works, literacy themes like our Hardy Boy puzzle, spectacular scenes of pastoral beauty, cute kittens, and of course hockey.  I really had no idea that hockey puzzles actually existed until I had to organize the puzzles here at the library last week!  We have puzzles ranging from two hundred and fifty pieces to two thousand pieces!

I bet that most of you do not know the origins of jigsaw puzzles. The earliest puzzles were actually made in the 1760s when European mapmakers started pasting maps onto wood and then cutting them into pieces.  I believe that this was done as an early training tool to show how pieces of the known world fit together.  A John Spilsbury, an engraver and mapmaker, is credited with the creation of the first jigsaw puzzle in 1767.  Puzzles for adults really emerged around 1900, and by 1908 the puzzle was a craze in Europe and the States.  Early puzzles had to be cut by hand, one piece at a time, so they were costly.  In 1908, a 500 piece cost $5.00 when the average worker only earned $50.00 per month.  The rich would purchase puzzles for big parties and weekends at the manor house. 

An interlocking style was invented around 1909.  Puzzles became so popular that Parker Brothers stopped making games and devoted their entire factory to puzzle production!  The Great Depression saw another upswing in puzzle mania as they offered an escape from a very troubling time. 

Which brings us back to puzzles and stress.  Completing a jigsaw puzzle is an ideal way to relieve stress, keep your hands busy, and build something beautiful!  We have a huge selection of puzzles waiting for you here at the library.  I have taken some pictures of a few of the box covers to give you an idea of the variety that awaits you!

Photo Gallery: Puzzles will appear here on the public site.