Library Loans Out Ties and Handbags So Those With Limited Resources Can Go to Job Interviews

The New York Public Library will lend neckties and bags to help any cardholder with job hunting.

NEW YORK — For a young person, going to a job interview can be expensive. You need nice clothes and a case or handbag to hold your resume and other documents.

But if you live in New York, there’s help. The New York Public Library is making sure you dress to impress in all your interviews — as long as you don’t have any library card fines.

The NYPL’s Riverside Library has rolled out a “Grow Up Work Fashion Library,” which lends out neckties, handbags, and briefcases to responsible patrons.

The goal is to help anyone with limited resources to get clothing and accessories for interviews, graduations and other “business-like occasions.”

How it started

The idea was born last year when Michelle Lee, a young adult librarian at the Riverside branch, was helping students prepare for college interviews and part-time jobs.

Lee pitched it to the NYPL Innovation Project, which selects 25 proposals by library staff members to fund each year.

Successful projects have ranged from museum family-pass programs to a newspaper digitization project. This year, more than 300 proposals were submitted.

Those proposals, like Lee’s idea, are all programs or projects that aim to educate or otherwise benefit the libraries’ communities.

Lee helps teens and young adults prepare for their first job and has hosted library talks about resumes, job applications and what to wear for interviews.

“Many of the teens at the Riverside Library who attend my job-hunt talk did not know what would be appropriate to wear for job interviews, or did not have proper attire,” she said in her proposal.

Where the items come from

A lot of the students that came into the library didn’t even have folders for their resumes, Lee said. So she started with that and then took it one step further.

“They cannot afford these accessories and I want to be able to provide access to them,” she said.

With funding from the library, Lee bought a dozen briefcases and handbags.

She then added a selection of neckties, bow ties, and pocket squares to help job applicants step up their fashion game.

Although the fashion library was created to help young people, it’s open to any adult who wants to borrow a tie or a bag, Lee said.

Adults and teens can also check out the library’s online career-advancement pages, which include job-search databases, workshops on mock interviewing tips and other resources.