Library Love: Five Borough Scavenger Hunt

Think: library trivia meets New York City Marathon meets urbanist adventure.

Share your love of libraries in some friendly competition with other passionate New Yorkers!

The story of our city’s libraries tells the story of New York’s past, present, and future. Over the last 100 years, libraries have evolved to keep up with the changing needs of our diverse population to serve neighborhoods in all five boroughs. More than just places for books, libraries are vital community spaces where kids can play and learn, teens can geek out on computers and comic books, and people from all backgrounds can apply for jobs or learn new skills, languages, and hobbies. In every community across the city, libraries physically anchor the collective commitment to discovery, self-improvement, and innovation.

Join Open House New York for a citywide scavenger hunt to deepen your knowledge of our city’s libraries, from the past to the future. Race to decipher clues, explore new corners of the city with friends, and find a new appreciation for these vital community anchors.

Register Here


Key Dates

Registration deadline: Wednesday, August 3

Clues released: Saturday, August 6, 10:00am

Clue submission deadline: Saturday, August 6, 11:59pm


Registration Fees

Registration fees are according to team size as follows:

  • Local Library Patrons (1-10 individuals): FREE
  • 1-3 individuals: $45
  • 4-6 individuals: $75
  • 6-10 individuals: $150


How to Register

Compete as an individual or as a team—note team size is limited to 10 people. Only ONE person per team should register. This person will be designated as the team captain.

To encourage broad and equitable participation in the hunt, all registration fees will be waived for anyone with a library card. Branch staff can sign up an entire team OR individuals with a library card can sign up and be matched with other library patrons. The benefit of signing up as an individual is to not only compete for free, but you will discover the city with new friends and fellow library enthusiasts.


How to register for free

  • If you participating as an individual, select Join-A-Team: Local Library Branch at registration, and indicate your local library branch. OHNY will create teams of 1-10 based on other patrons who have signed up.
  • If you work at a library, select Build-Your-Team: Library Staff at registration and rally a team of up to 10 staff members or library patrons. There is no limit to the number of teams each branch can form, however each team is limited to 10 people. Please identify the name of your branch and your job title when you register.

How to register if you are not part of a local library branch

  • Teams must register in advance by the Registration Deadline of August 3. Play solo or in teams of up to 10.
  • You will need to provide your team members’ names prior to the event. Please have your names collected by August 3. We will include how to register your team members’ names in the follow-up instructions.
  • Each team must designate a team captain who is responsible for confirming team details prior to the event.
  • Before August 6, designate a team mascot—make your own or pick an object that will be pictured in all the photos you submit for points.


How to play

  • Decipher clues. On Saturday August 6 at 10:00am, more than 60 clues will be emailed to teams that hint at key library sites across the five boroughs. Each clue will include a clue number, the borough where it is located, and the number of points if answered correctly. Clues are worth different points depending on their difficulty and distance from each other. You do not need to decipher every clue or visit every location. The goal is to decipher and visit as many locations as you can over the course of the day. No points will be earned for deciphering a clue alone; you must also visit and photograph your team in front of the building or structure.
  • Take photos of clues around the city. From 10:00am – 11:59pm on August 6, race to the clue locations, taking photos in front of the building or library hinted at. You won’t need to go in; just a photo of your mascot or team in front of the building works! Teams can walk, run, take public transportation, or use bikes, ferries, or cars to get around during the hunt. Teams that do not use cars (personal vehicles, taxis, or rideshare) will receive a green energy points bonus! As part of Summer Streets, Citi Bike will be offering free day passes on August 6: use the code SUMMER22 in the Citi Bike app to receive unlimited 30-minute rides on a classic Citi Bike for 24 hours!
  • Submit clues. Teams must submit their clue photos using the clue submission form by 11:59pm on August 6 for scoring. Clues submitted after August 6 will not be scored. Each clue should be uploaded to the form with the team name, clue number, answer, and accompanying photo.
  • Spread the #librarylove. Post your scavenger hunt pictures on social media with the hashtag #librarylove and tag us at @openhousenewyork on Facebook and Instagram and @ohny on Twitter, and our library partners NYPL (@nypl), BPL (@bklynlibrary), and QPL (@qplnyc). We will be reposting your photos throughout the day!



The top three winning teams will be notified the evening of Sunday, August 7, and publicly announced on Open House New York’s newsletter and social media the following Monday.

The first place team will receive:

  • Admission to an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of a library given by branch librarians and the architects and designers of the library as part of the 2022 OHNY Weekend on October 22-23. Library branches offering tours may include Brooklyn Heights Library, Greenpoint Library, Jefferson Market Library, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, and more TBA.
  • Complimentary invites to the OHNY Weekend Launch Party on October 20 at Surrogate’s Court ($150 value per person)
  • Complimentary tickets to OHNY’s upcoming Sunset Boat Tour on August 25 ($45 value per person)
  • Complimentary OHNY membership or a 1-year OHNY membership extension for existing Members ($50 value per person)
  • OHNY swag (tote bags and pins)


Questions? Please email


This program is offered as part of Festival of New York, a citywide collaborative movement featuring 300+ diverse organizations across all sectors spanning from Memorial Day to Labor Day 2022. Open House New York is proud to be a launch partner of the Festival.

On Saturday, Aug. 6, as part of Festival of New York, the New York Public Library, in partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library, will host dozens of outdoor dance parties across the city— bonus points if you take a photo at a dance party!


About Radical Knowledge: Libraries as Community Catalysts

The Library Love: Five Borough Scavenger Hunt is part of OHNY’s ongoing Urban Systems series, Radical Knowledge: Libraries as Community Catalystsa multi-year program examining how libraries serve as both vibrant learning institutions and centers for their communities, providing physical and virtual spaces to enrich civic life.

This series is being developed with learning institutions, community activists, and leaders across New York City’s diverse communities. Virtual, experiential, and participatory experiences for Radical Knowledge include conversations, workshops, site visits, self-guided tours, and a scavenger hunt. These activities are being designed to reach OHNY’s core audience of city explorers while also engaging underrepresented communities that are often not included in the power structures of New York City.

Radical Knowledge is the sixth installment of OHNY’s Urban Systems infrastructure series. We are grateful to our program partners: The New York Public LibraryQueens Public Library, and Brooklyn Public Library.