The library escape

Bringing local people together to design ‘escape room’ games to help reduce social isolation.

The challenge

The bustling city of Milan in northern Italy has 26 public libraries across the city, and a UNESCO designation as a Creative City of Literature. However, many communities in the more remote areas of Milan are not benefiting from social interactions, cultural events or engagement with their local libraries. The pandemic has further exacerbated a sense of polarisation and social isolation in these communities where large condominiums with thousands of residents are located.

The initiative

As a solution to this problem, the Milan public library system is working together with the network of Milan condominium libraries to expand a network of shared spaces where books and reading are available, as well as offering local people the chance to build civic literacy and to positively shape and share their needs and aspirations.

The core idea is to bring together different generations of condominium inhabitants through a series of game-playing initiatives – connecting them to each other, to the libraries in their buildings, to their wider communities and to public libraries in the area. Working together as a team, the groups are creating an ‘escape room’ concept based on the community served by two condominium libraries.

What’s next?

The ‘dream’ end result would be to bring a community together around the condominium libraries – a community that is more engaged in taking part in the library’s life and that can catalyse new services and resources for other people living in the neighbourhood.

In order for this dream to become a reality, the challenge team needs to develop partnerships to help spread the word about the site-specific escape rooms. They also need more funds to scale up their prototype to make sure the other 25 condominium libraries across Milan can benefit from gaming and creative events as a way to engage more residents.


Relevant links

There is a page that collects all the condominium and spontaneous libraries in the city:



Website by HOAX Amsterdam