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The Collections: Guide to the Collections: Slocum Puzzle Collection

Twenty pointer burr, an interlocking puzzle by Wayne Daniel

The Jerry Slocum Collection of mechanical puzzles embodies a lifetime pursuit of the intriguing and the perplexing. The result is the largest assemblage of its kind in the world, with over 30,000 puzzles and 4,000 puzzle related books. Unlike word or jigsaw puzzles, mechanical puzzles are hand-held objects that must be manipulated to achieve a specific goal. Popular examples include the Rubik's cube and tangrams. The puzzles in the collection represent centuries of mathematical, social, and recreational history from across five continents.

About 400 puzzles from the larger collection are on display at the Lilly Library in the newly refurbished Slocum Puzzle Room. The bulk of the collection will be transferred to the Library in installments over the coming years.

Exploring the collection

An online database of the collection is under development at the Indiana University Digital Library Program. Users may view images of selected puzzles by keyword-searching the database, or browsing the puzzle classification scheme developed by Mr. Slocum.

A 16-page illustrated catalog published to accompany the exhibition, A World of Puzzles: Highlights from the Jerry Slocum Collection of Mechanical Puzzles, Brainteasers & Ingenious Objects is available for purchase, price $4.00. Contact the Lilly Library by e-mail: liblilly@indiana.edu or by telephone: 812-855-2452 for ordering information.

Slocum Puzzle Room

Visiting the collection

The Slocum Room is open during regular library hours and closes fifteen minutes prior to the library closing time. However, because the room is often used for lectures and presentations, it is advisable to confirm the room's availability when planning a visit to the see the puzzle collection. Please contact Andrew Rhoda, Curator of Puzzles, arhoda@indiana.edu, with questions about the collection and for information about scheduling tours or group presentations.

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Last updated: 23 October 2013

The Lilly Library, 1200 East Seventh Street, Bloomington, Indiana, 47405-5500   Tel. 812-855-2452  Fax. 812-855-3143

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