November 8, 2017

Getting dolled up at the New York Public Library


Despite what you might have heard, people are still using libraries. And in a pretty genius and generous cross-marketing plan, American Girl is using the New York Public Library.

As it announced last week in a press release, American Girl, a company known for its line of historic (and expensive) dolls and corresponding books, has donated $1 million in American Girl books to the NYPL. Any child with library card in hand, or who signs up for one, can head to one of the NYPL branches in the Bronx, Manhattan, or Staten Island, and bring home one of the 100,000 donated books. The company will also donate one doll and a set of books to every NYPL children’s room.

This is great. As the press release states, “The book giveaway not only encourages children to read, but to obtain library cards and visit their local branches, which offer a wide range of books, materials, programs, and classes.” Getting children involved as active members of their library system is always a good thing!

American Girl has long supported and encouraged literacy and education — each of their dolls comes with a book that describes what it was like for girls growing up in the historical period the doll’s look dates back to. Still, they’re a capitalist company that sells $115 dolls, which usually restricts that education to those privileged enough to afford it.

And while donating 100,000 books is awesome and appreciated, the press release makes it clear that the giveaway is “in celebration of their new store, American Girl Place, opening in Rockefeller Plaza on November 11.” I really don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but this donation might feel a bit more altruistic and genuine if it wasn’t motivated by the marketing of a new retail location.

Even so, it’s kind of hard to hate on a company that, as NYPL president Tony Marx says, “understand(s) the importance of children developing a lifelong love of reading, curiosity, and learning from an early age.”

So now the only problem that’s left: Which American Girl Doll are YOU?



Stephanie DeLuca is the director of publicity at Melville House.