New Yorkers know that the city’s libraries offer more than just books. From museum passes to musical instruments, libraries throughout the five boroughs have an array of ways to help enrich your life. Now, the New York Public Library is trying to help out residents in another way by lending out ties, briefcases and handbags.
Residents can borrow these accessories from a “Grow Up Work Fashion” lending library that recently debuted at the New York Public Library Riverside branch when they’re in a pinch ahead of a job interview, graduation or other formal event.
“I’ve held a number of job-hunting workshops at the branch and I gave general talks about what you should wear for an interview,” said Michelle Lee, the Young Adult Librarian at the Riverside branch, who started this program. “One of the teens said he didn’t have any clothing to wear for an interview. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get him clothing, but I was just thinking of ways that [the library] could be helpful.”
Her college had a suit library, Lee said, and she thought her branch could do something similar. The Queens Library, as well as the previous library Lee worked at in Philadelphia, lend out ties, too.
Lee thought to include briefcases and handbags, she said, because so many people — teens and adults alike — work on their resumes at the New York Public Library and then ask for folders in which to carry them.
“I thought having a briefcase or handbag was another way to look professions and bring your resume and other job−hunting materials, as well,” she said.
New York Public Library beyond books
The tie lending library comes out of an initiative called New York Public Library Grow Up, which is funded through the funded through the New York Public Library Innovation Project.
Through the Grow Up programming, the Riverside Branch has offered workshops for teens on grown up issues like what to wear to an interview to eating healthy on a budget to managing your money.
Lee sees people working on their resumes or job searching at the New York Public Library all the time, and she knows both teens and adults may not have everything they need to give themselves the best shot at those opportunities.
But New York Public Library patrons can also borrow ties and handbags for more than just job interviews, she noted.
“They might need it for graduation, or for a performance, or any other sort of function: a wedding, a funeral, prom,” said Lee. “Sometimes folks might not need to wear a tie all the time, but they have an event coming up that they have to wear one to, and this is a way they can have [one] if they can’t afford it.”
This effort really underscores how much libraries are a community resource in general, Lee said, besides just a place to get your latest beach read.
“People keep saying libraries are obsolete, that people aren’t reading as much or buying books,” she said. “But that’s obviously not true. Libraries are one of the few places you can get stuff for free.”
The tie, briefcase and handbag lending library is only in place currently at the New York Public Library Riverside branch. You can borrow up to two ties and one briefcase or one handbag for a three-week period, and all you need is a New York Public Library card and total fines below $15.