In his position, Andrew Rhoda curates the mechanical puzzles in the Jerry Slocum Mechanical Puzzle Collection. The collection contains over 35,000 mechanical puzzles, over 5,000 books, and the Slocum manuscript collection. He hosts classes from across disciplines who visit the collection, and he has presented on mechanical puzzles and the collection at puzzle events here in Bloomington and around the world. In addition, he processes new puzzles to the collection and coordinates donations.
Andrew’s experience with the Slocum Mechanical Puzzle collection makes him a valuable resource for the history and design of puzzles, recreational mathematics, and related subjects. Recent publications include a chapter titled “Professor Hoffmann’s Victorian Puzzles and Stage Magic,” for Playing Games in Nineteenth-Century England and America (2022, SUNY Press). The chapter focuses on the first person to attempt to categorize and define puzzles, including mechanical puzzles. Angelo John Lewis, under the pseudonym Professor Hoffmann, was a magician and puzzle collector who wrote extensively on both subjects, his works being foundational to both as well. Andrew’s writing on mechanical puzzles has also appeared in the Association for Games and Puzzles International Quarterly.
Andrew is involved in the planning of the Monroe County History Center’s PuzzleFest and represents the Lilly Library at IU’s annual Science Fest. Andrew gives presentations on mechanical puzzles and the Jerry Slocum Mechanical Puzzle Collection regularly to individuals and groups from the university and from around the world.
Andrew came to Bloomington to study at the Department of Theatre at Indiana University in 2004. He received his M.A. in Theatre History, Literature and Criticism in 2006 and then went on to receive his M.L.S. from Indiana University’s School of Library and Information Science in 2008, with a specialization in rare books librarianship. Prior to becoming the Curator of Puzzles, Andrew worked at the Lilly as the ALF Cataloging Specialist and the Rare Books Cataloger.