New York Public Library Allows Patrons To Borrow Accessories For Job Interviews

"Libraries are one of the few places you can get stuff for free."

As the Young Adult Librarian at the Riverside branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL), Michelle Lee sees numerous people working on their résumés or conducting their job search each day. Yet, while the library offers countless resources for those seeking employment, Lee recognized that both teens and adults might not have everything they need to ace these interviews at their disposal.

"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," Lee told Metro. "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."

Thus, the NYPL Grow Up Work Fashion Library was born. Lee, the program's creator, gathered an array of fashion accessories that those preparing for job interviews might need to succeed, including neckties and handbags. Any library card holder can access the collection, which currently features 17 different ties and 12 handbags and briefcases, according to the catalog. Borrowers need only have fines less than $15, or no fines on their library card, to check-out items for a one-time, three-week lending period.

Much like Dress for Success or Career Gear — which donated some goods to the collection, alongside private individuals — NYPL's Grow Up program aims to help those who don't have the necessary means to outfit themselves in an effort to help them to achieve their goals. According to the NYPL website, the branch "also provides information sheets on job interview tips, free career resources and suggested books, and websites and organizations that can help with professional fashion advice and attire."

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While the program was initially created with job seekers in mind, Lee also notes that these items are available for anyone who might require business or formal attire that they cannot afford.

"They might need it for graduation, or for a performance, or any other sort of function: a wedding, a funeral, prom," Lee said. "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."

Funded through the New York Public Library Innovation Project, as made possible by a generous grant from The Charles H. Revson Foundation, the Grow Up mini-lending library program also demonstrates that, contrary to popular belief, libraries aren't antiquated, as these institutions provide much more than the traditional access to books and other reading materials.

"People keep saying libraries are obsolete, that people aren't reading as much or buying books," Lee added. "But that's obviously not true. Libraries are one of the few places you can get stuff for free."

Although the Queens location offers a similar "tie library," the Riverside branch remains the only location to house such an extensive location. However, if the program proves popular, other branches within the NYPL might follow suit. Until then, those who frequent Manhattan's Upper West Side have a variety of options available. Here's hoping that everyone involved — both branch and borrower — find style and success.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article referred to the library branch as Riverdale. The article has been updated with the correct name of the branch: Riverside. 

Cover image via Gutesa / Shutterstock

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