The New York Public Library is lending ties, briefcases, and handbags to people who need them
Back in 2016, librarian Michelle Lee was teaching a free class about employment and resumé writing to high school students. At one point, Lee recalls to The Washington Post, she told the teens that they should dress appropriately for a job interview. When the students responded that they didn’t have professional clothes, Lee got to work on a simple, innovative idea.
Lee drafted a proposal for the Riverside branch of the New York Public Library to start offering ties, handbags, and briefcases to people who need them. She successfully pitched her idea to the NYPL Innovation Project and was given funding to purchase 12 items from Amazon. A Bloomingdales employee also stepped up and donated some ties and pocket squares.
— Here & Now (@hereandnow) September 21, 2018
Patrons already come in and use library computers to work on their resumés and look for jobs, Lee notes. Now, they have a whole new resource for their employment search.“A lot of them will ask for envelopes or folders to carry into the interview,” she said. “We didn’t really have them. But now we have something nicer they can check out.”
And the items aren’t just reserved for job interviews. The New York Public Library encourages patrons to use them for a “wedding, audition, graduation, prom, or other formal event.” The only prerequisite is that the borrower has less than $15 worth of library fines. If they pass that test, then they’re free to check out their item for three weeks.
Having nice, professional apparel can make a significant difference, Kimberly Spring, network manager of the Riverside area of branches, tells NPR. “You know, you look good, you feel good,” she said. “You feel more confident…when you’re going out.”
This is just one of the many thoughtful, helpful resources that libraries across the country offer.
The Arlington County Library, for example, actually has American Girl dolls that kids can check out for one week at a time, taking the burden off of parents who can’t afford the hefty $110 price tag. The lending program began back in 2013, and there was already a waitlist of more than 60 people as soon the announcement was made. As an added bonus, librarians hoped that their system would encourage kids to visit more often.
“Our whole goal is to get people into the library,” Julia Karell, a branch manager, tells The Washington Post. “This is a way to connect kids with books and with history.”
So much applause to libraries who are giving back to their communities. If you’d like to donate ties, handbags, or purses to the New York Public Library, head here for more information.