The New York Public Library Begins Lending Out Ties, Briefcases and Handbags


The New York Public Library has begun to loan out ties, briefcases and handbags as part of its “Grow Up Work Fashion” lending program. The program looks to help underprivileged New Yorkers dress professionally for a job interview, and even graduations and other formal events.

“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. 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,” said Michelle Lee, the librarian at the NYPL’s Riverside branch, who started the program.

Lee got the idea from her college which had a suit library. A previous library Lee worked at in Philadelphia also lent out ties.

Lee got the idea of including briefcases and handbags from the many visitors who work on their resumes and then ask for folders to carry them out in. “I thought having a briefcase or handbag was another way to look professional and bring your resume and other job−hunting materials, as well,” she said.

The formal-wear-lending initiative comes from a program called New York Public Library Grow Up. Through the program Lee’s branch offers workshops for teens on adult issues like proper attire for an interview, eating healthy on a budget and managing money.

The program highlights the important role libraries continue to play in society, Lee says.

“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 program is available only at the NYPL’s Riverside branch currently. Patrons can borrow up to two ties and one briefcase or one handbag for a three week period. A valid New York Public Library card and total fines below $15 are required.

Photo by The New York Public Library

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