Visit Your Library to Borrow ... a Tie, Briefcase or Handbag!

New York Public Library logoMany thanks to Michelle Lee, of NYPL's Riverside Library, who tells us about their Grow Up Work Fashion Lending Library!

Can you please tell us a bit about the Grow Up Work Fashion Lending Library? What is it? To whom is it available?

This program lets any teen or adult who has a New York Public Library card with low (below $15) or no fines borrow a tie, briefcase or handbag for job interviews, prom, graduation or other special events. Items may be borrowed once for a three-week loan period, and must be returned in-person to the Riverside Library staff. The late fee is $.25 a day per item. The replacement fee for ties is $25 and varies for briefcases and handbags.

Another colleague and I provide informal resume reviews for teens and adults at the library when time allows. We also offer patrons info sheets with free resources for job-hunting and professional attire.

How long has the program been running?

The program launched last summer and is a pilot program. It is the final part of a series of life-skills events we ran in 2017 at the Riverside Library (the other workshops we held included guest speakers who talked about professional men's and women's attire, healthful eating on a budget and money management).

NYPL Grow Up program is funded by an Innovation Project grant from The Charles H. Revson Foundation and many ties were donated by Career Gear, a local non-profit organization that helps men with professional clothing.

bags and tiesGenerally speaking, how is the program going, i.e. what kinds of responses are you getting from patrons?

The program has generated a lot of publicity and we've had several people use the items for job interviews. We also had many generous donations of ties and bags to the program from the public (both from New York City and across the county) and a local travel bag company.

Are there any (either expected or unexpected) issues that have arisen?

Occasionally a handbag or briefcase has been returned to us a little dirty. Fortunately, I have a leather cleaning kit to use on the materials.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

So far, my biggest challenge has been getting more patrons to use the work accessories. Even though there have been many press articles about the program, it would be nice to have the materials checked out more. We are beginning to branch out with more outreach at other library events, such as job workshops and career fairs.

TiesWhat has been the biggest reward so far?

It's been great to offer teens and adults who cannot afford work accessories the opportunity to access fashionable handbags, briefcases and ties. It gives them an opportunity to look professional, build their confidence, and, hopefully, reach their career goals, whether it is making a strong impression at the work/college interview or getting that job. The work accessories lending library may be a small program, but it can make a big difference.

Thank you again for taking the time to contribute your library's idea to our newsletter. It just might inspire another library and will certainly have a positive impact on patrons' lives.

Thank you. I'm happy to say, there have been a few other libraries and municipalities that have called me to ask about the project with an interest in starting their own program. Our project was actually inspired by a local student who said he didn't have anything to wear for job interviews, and I knew of tie-lending programs at the Free Library of Philadelphia and Queens Public Library.

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